Rules and Policies

There are three rules you must remember!
  • No driving
  • No drugs
  • No hitchhiking

All AFS Rules are in place to keep you safe while you are on program.

Early Return

The consequence for breaking any of the big three AFS rules is program termination and an early return to your home country at your own expense. The following can also get you sent home early:
  • Taking unauthorized trips away from your host family or host community
  • Continued unwillingness to or inability to adapt to the lifestyle of the host country or abide by host family rules
  • Pregnancy or causing pregnancy
  • Theft
  • Eating Disorders
  • Breaking local laws
  • Unauthorized visits from family members or friends
  • Moving to another host family not arranged for and approved by AFS
  • Injury or illness which keeps one from participating in the AFS program, i.e. attending school or taking part in AFS or host family activities
  • Failing to attend or pass school in your host country

Participation Agreement

Your participation with AFS began formally when you signed the Participation Agreement.

This contract is legally binding; you have promised to adhere to the rules and policies it represents including those mentioned above. Call your Application Advisor (1-800-AFS-INFO with any questions you may have.
You will find a copy of the Participation Agreement for your reference on page 50 of this handbook. The Participation Agreement addresses the following:
  • terms and conditions of participation
  • safety and support
  • transportation and travel guidelines
  • medical support
  • program termination policies

Alcohol Policy

Few countries in the world have laws related to alcohol consumption similar to those in the USA. In many countries, wine or beer is regularly served with meals, and young people may be included in this tradition. As such, you may have legal opportunities to drink alcohol in your host country. However, a pattern of alcohol abuse on the part of an AFS Participant can result in program termination. If you are extended a legal opportunity to drink alcohol, moderation is expected. Excessive drinking or drunkenness is considered highly inappropriate and will not be tolerated by your hosts or by AFS.

In some countries, alcohol consumption is considered inappropriate because of religious practice. Be sensitive to the attitude toward alcohol in your host family and community in addition to the laws of your host country.

Academic Policy

As an AFS Participant, you must be committed to the academic portion of the program,even if you have already graduated in the USA. The terms of your participation in school are detailed in the Participation Agreement. For information on obtaining academic credit, see page 15.

U.S. Families Visiting

AFS highly discourages your family and friends from visiting during your exchange. AFS has learned from experience that visits from U.S. family and friends can be a serious disruption to adjustment. Our policies regarding family visits are included in the Participation Agreement, see page 50.
If a visit from your natural family does occur, be sure to adhere to the following:
  • Family visits must be cleared through local volunteers and your host family.
  • Visit should last no more than 3 – 4 days and occur at the end of the exchange
  • If you wish to travel with a family member during this time, your host family, volunteers, and staff must give permission before the trip is planned and you must obtain a travel waiver (see Independent Travel policy that follows)

Independent Travel

AFS is an educational program, not a travel program. While on the program and in the host country, you must adhere to the internal travel guidelines of AFS in the host country and, when appropriate, obtain approval for independent travel.
  • Local or national AFS official must grant approval prior to formulating any definite arrangements.
  • In most cases independent travel must also be approved by your natural parents or guardian who will be asked to sign an Independent Travel Waiver Form.
  • This permission is NOT required for:
    • ƒƒTravel activities within the host country that are approved school/class trips, or if the participant is traveling with members of the host family.
    • ƒƒIn these cases the participant must provide to AFS information regarding dates, itinerary, housing accommodation and telephone contact number.
See page 44 for complete guidelines regarding independent travel

High-Risk Activities

All high-risk activities in which you might participate in your host country should be approved by the natural parents before departure. To this end, the Activity Waiver was included as a part of your AFS application process.

Program Release

At times participants request to remain in their host country after their program ends or they may choose to leave the program prior to the completion date. Both instances are referred to as a “Program Release.”
  • AFS-USA will consider requests for changes to the international return tickets on a case by case basis and for a fee of $500.00, as noted in the Participation Agreement.
  • In a growing number of countries immigration laws do not permit participants to remain in the country after the completion of their program. In these cases AFS-USA will not be able to make changes to return international tickets and require that all participants return on their previously scheduled AFS-USA group flight.

Quality Standards

AFS-USA is fully committed to providing high-quality study abroad programs to its participants and host families. As such, the organization abides by several sets of quality standards.

AFS Standards

The AFS Statement of Purpose, Core Values and Attributes, and Quality Standards are shared by all AFS Partner Organizations worldwide. These statements comprise the foundation upon which all partners agree to operate their programs and they represent what all AFS organizations agree are the essential elements of quality programs and what AFS commits to providing to all participants, natural families, host families and schools. They also serve as the foundation for the AFS Standards, Policies and Procedures, which were developed by AFS International in consultation and cooperation with partners worldwide. To learn more about AFS standards and read all official AFS quality statements, visit:

CSIET Standards

AFS-USA must adhere to the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) standards regulating both inbound and outbound study abroad programs to maintain a “Full” listing on their Advisory List. CSIET evaluates organizations through a biannual audit process.
Access the full text of the CSIET Standards on the following website: