Friendly Reminders RE: NH21/SH22 On Program Travel/Visits

Friendly Reminders RE: NH21/SH22 On Program Travel/Visits

As we look toward the final quarter of the 2021-22 school year and participants’ end of program, AFS-USA would like to share a friendly reminder, together with some useful information, about policies surrounding Independent Travel, Sending Parent/Guardian Visits, International Travel and Belo Tours as well as providing clear guidelines for on program participant travel that does NOT require a waiver.

AFS-USA’s On Program Participant Travel/Visit policies remain as follows:

  1. Independent travel (travel without the host family and/or an AFS-USA Volunteer) is not currently permitted for USA hosted participants on the NH21/SH22 cycle
  2. Visits from family members and friends are not currently permitted while a participant is on program
    • If a participant wishes to have a family member visit, it should be arranged for after the conclusion of school and, ideally, on the last day of the program.
      • For such cases, the participant will be required to Program Release
        • For example, if a sending family wants to “visit” on 18-Jun-22, two days before end of their participant’s program on 20 JUN, the Program Release date will be 18-Jun-22 and the student will be considered off program and unable to attend any AFS activities after 18-Jun-22
    • Please review these helpful MyAFS H&L Articles for more information about Program Release processes and policies for participants hosted in the USA:
  3. International travel with the host family is also not currently permitted, as AFS-USA cannot guarantee that the hosted participant would be permitted to re-enter the US.
  4. AFS-USA will not offer Belo Tours for the 2021-22 school year. Belo Tours are optional independent travel tourism trips so are considered independent travel.
    • These trips are facilitated by Belo Tours, a travel tour agency with whom AFS-USA has partnered for many years and incur an additional cost to participant/parent.
    • This also means that students may not participate in a Belo Trip offered by another exchange organization.

While the above-mentioned policies remain in effect, AFS-USA does permit participant travel while on program under the following conditions:

AFS-Sanctioned Participant Travel

There are several categories of AFS-sanctioned travel. Formal permission from AFS-USA and a signed travel waiver from sending parents are not required for the following types of trips:

  • Trips organized by the AFS participant’s host school (i.e., sports events, field trips, school excursions etc.) with school-sponsored chaperones
    • School trips organized by a participant’s host school are considered part of the school program and are permitted so long as trip-related forms/waivers that require sending parent signatures are obtained (these can be obtained directly from the participant’s parents by the participant and/or host family).
    • Note: As in previous years, an AFS-USA travel waiver is not required for school trips.
  • AFS-sponsored trips
  • Travel with an AFS Volunteer who is at least 25 years of age
  • Travel with an AFS Volunteer 21-24 years of age with Team approval
  • Travel with a host family member who is at least 25 years of age
  • Travel with a host family member 21- 24 years of age with Team approval

If you receive a related question from a host family, please refer them to this article available in their Global Family Tool platform.