Non-US Citizen FAQ

Non-US Citizen FAQ

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If you reside in the US but you are not a US citizen, there are additional procedures to follow in order to travel abroad on an AFS program.

As a global organization, AFS-USA is committed to supporting non-US citizens on our programs. As non-US citizens require special processes to enter, remain, and exit the countries our programs operate in, AFS-USA’s staff will assist you with all necessary processes and paperwork.

Are you a non-US citizen interested in applying to one of our programs? Help us help you! You can start by simply filling out this Non-US Citizen Information Checklist and, once completed, email it to your Study Abroad Specialist.

What is a non-US citizen?

Simply defined, non-US citizens are people who do not hold or are unable to obtain a US passport. These individuals may have traveled to the US, but are not considered full citizens.  There are three general types of non-US citizens that AFS-USA can support on programs. Please read on to discover where you may fit in the process. If you are not in one of these categories, unfortunately AFS-USA will not be able to secure the visas and other documents you will need and, as such, cannot offer participation on any of our programs.

  • Temporary Resident
    • Foreign nationals, who have visas of certain categories (B1, H-1B, O1, E1, F1, J1 etc.)  that require prolonged stay, their dependants - spouse and children, are considered to be temporary residents.
  • Permanent Resident
    • Permanent residents in the US are known as ‘green card holders.’ Green card holders are authorized to live and work in the US permanently.
  • Dreamer
    • The term comes from the acronym DREAM Act - Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act - which stands for the category of undocumented immigrants, under the age of 31, who entered the USA before turning 16, lived here continuously for at least 5 years, have not been convicted of a serious crime, are currently enrolled in school, graduated from high school, or earned GED diploma, or did military service.

I am a non-US citizen and I am a temporary resident. What are common difficulties that I may face when applying to an AFS-USA program?

Temporary residents who are seeking green card status have time limits set for living abroad. If a temporary resident that is seeking a green card status spends more than 6 months abroad, it may disqualify them from receiving a green card. Temporary residents seeking permanent resident status often choose not to risk their green card candidacy and choose not to apply for a program longer than one semester. In addition to the above, temporary residents have to make sure to check expiration dates, rules, and other conditions on their visas. Furthermore, non-US citizens need to follow the visa rules applicable to their citizenship. Finally, many visa applications to other countries require vital records (birth, marriage, death certificates, etc.) to be submitted to consulates and occasionally temporary residents may encounter  difficulties in obtaining the vital records that were generated in their country of origin.

I am a non-US citizen that is a permanent resident. What are common difficulties that I may face when applying to an AFS-USA program?

Permanent residents have green cards and are permitted to exit and re-enter the United States under a standardized set of rules. However, because they are not US citizens,  they will need to follow the rules their destination country has established for their particular citizenship. For example, a US citizen traveling to Ireland does not need to apply for a tourist visa, but a Chinese permanent resident of the United States does. While sometimes permanent residents have the same visa rules as US citizens, oftentimes this is not the case. Permanent residents can travel on most of our programs. If a permanent resident is interested in a program that is longer than six months, we will recommend that they apply for a Reentry Permit Form I-131.  This ensures that any concerns by Immigration Officials for long absences from the US will be addressed by clear documentation.

I am a Dreamer. What are the common difficulties that I may face when applying to an AFS-USA program?

Organizations that are advocates for and experts on Dreamer policy indicate that all Dreamers should consider not traveling abroad, due to legal risks and concerns from our current federal administration. You are welcome to indicate your interest in our programs, and we will contact you when we are more confident that your ability to return to the United States is certain. If you have further questions, please let us know.

I am a non-US citizen or dual citizen of a country in the Schengen Region. What does that mean for me?

The Schengen Agreement is a treaty that standardizes visa, passport, and border controls across all member states. European citizens of Schengen member states may travel and work freely across borders. US citizens may travel as tourists to these countries for a period of 90 days without requiring a visa. When US and non-US citizens are traveling to the Schengen region on a short or long-term visa or resident permit, they may travel freely to other member states for a period of a few weeks, but must return to the country for which their visa is specifically issued.

If you are a citizen of a Schengen member state, traveling to any member states for the purposes of an AFS-USA program will likely be much easier than most US participants. Schengen citizen's visa requirements are simplified and occasionally non-existent - even as a temporary or permanent resident of the United States.

The list includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg,Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein.