A Program Release (PR) happens when a student wishes to release early from the program and remain in the U.S. (after school is done) or remain in the U.S. after their program end date for varying reasons (e.g., their parents will be coming to visit or they want to take a vacation with the host family).
Students who successfully complete their program may remain in the U.S. legally for up to 30 days after the end of the program/PR date (starting from the date of release). To have successfully completed their program requires that they are finished with their school year. Hosted students who are terminated early from the AFS program or who choose to program release during the school year are not eligible for this 30-day grace period and are expected to leave the U.S. immediately.
During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the U.S., they should not travel beyond the borders of the U.S. as they may not be permitted reentry.
If students remain in the U.S. in violation of their visa, they will jeopardize future admittance to the U.S. and will be in violation of U.S. federal law.
Some countries do NOT allow their students to program release. This is why it is important to have students contact their sending families/AFS Partner office directly. Sponsored programs students (FLEX, YES & CB) are not able to PR.
The PR request process can be completed in two ways:
- A student/host family will let their volunteer know that the student would like to stay longer in the U.S.
- The volunteer will advise host family/student to have student contact their sending family/partner office to begin the process of confirming a program release.
- Upon receipt of the request from the partner office (via the support module), AFS USA Travel and Logistic staff will contact volunteers to confirm PR request.
- AFS Partner country will contact AFS-USA with a request from the sending family for a PR.
- AFS-USA staff member will contact the local volunteer to confirm PR request.
- AFS Partner country will assist in changing the international ticket and have the natural parents sign a PR form.
Note: AFS-USA no longer initiates PR requests for hosted students. The deadline for requesting a program release with the student's AFS sending partner country for NH22 is May 1, 2023. AFS Partners have been advised of this deadline, so please follow the steps above.
What a Program Release Entails:
AFS partner staff are responsible for updating the travel information in GL. This includes a new international e-ticket. Most partner offices will also email this information directly to the student. AFS USA Travel and Logistics staff will also email a copy of the ticket to the student/host family with these reminders the following reminders:
- Student is off program as of xxx date.
- Medical insurance is no longer in effect.
- They may not attend any AFS events.
- The students/sending parents are responsible for any fees associated with changing the international ticket (this varies based on country/airline).
- They are responsible for scheduling/paying for required COVID testing.
- Student does not receive any transit assistance.
- The student/sending parents are responsible for booking and paying for the domestic travel to the departure airport city
As a reminder, the planned program date can be found on the service case/placement info tab within the “late traveler date range” field. Please refer to this article.
Given the varied parties involved in processing a program release, the process can take anywhere from a week to a month. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding the PR process.
Please remember that AFS-USA staff are not responsible for being the intermediary between the sending families and the partner offices. It is the full responsibility of the sending family to follow through with the sending partner to finalize all aspects of the program release.
Sample PR letter sent by the office to student.