The COVID-19 pandemic is calling for an agile response to changed realities. AFS is well-prepared to run study abroad programs with a robust risk management and support system in place, and we are fortunate to have already laid the groundwork for transformative change well before COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

AFS Study Abroad Programs

AFS programs will run in countries where health and safety conditions allow, and student visas are possible. We observe the continually changing situation on a daily basis and are in very close contact with our member organizations.

AFS exchange programs are currently running or planned to begin in all AFS destinations.

Discover AFS study abroad programs

How AFS Keeps Our Participants Safe

As a global network of organizations, AFS is actively re-assessing conditions for study abroad programs on a country-by-country basis. The safety and well-being of our participants remain our number one priority. We are closely monitoring health and travel recommendations from authorities, as well as receiving information from our robust, on-the-ground volunteer network. We pledge to be nimble and responsive to circumstances as they change.

Some countries may require a later program start date than originally planned. Moreover, either because of safety restrictions or a lingering economic impact, we may not be able to run our programs in all countries. If planned abroad experiences must change, we will let our participants know as soon as we are able. We will do all we can to offer alternative destinations and programs.

“Even though no one knew what was going to happen in this global pandemic, AFS tried their best to make sure that we all feel safe and supported us all the time when we all felt down. And it always helped. Sometimes their enthusiasm and positivity helped me get through the day.”

—2019 AFS study abroad participant (source: Customer Service Evaluation)

What our participants are saying


“The most important thing is to stay safe but never stop enjoying and discovering new things. Communicate with AFS to build the trust that makes you feel safe throughout the exchange program. Keep an open mind, the pandemic is not an impediment but something that lets you change your routine.”—Isabella Carrasquel (from Venezuela to Austria, 2021)

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“From the get go, AFS staff and volunteers have done everything they can to make sure the journey is amazing. Every advice and word of support have been very important for me throughout this experience”—Marielis Peña (from Venezuela to Switzerland, 2021)


“No pandemic can take away from the experience of an exchange program. Clearly, it’s different, but still worth it and much more. Normal activities change but they don’t go away. There’s still so much to live even with a pandemic in the way. My recommendation is to go for it and learn thanks to the experience.”Justo Farias (from Venezuela to Hungary, 2021)

Early response to COVID-19

Early in March 2020, some 7,000 students had to end their AFS study abroad programs early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AFS volunteers and staff around the world worked day and night to reunite participants with their families in their home countries and continued to provide all program support and services to those participants who remained under the care of host families before returning home. AFS rapidly reconfigured and deployed a virtual learning platform, based on our AFS Global Competence Certificate, to provide those thousands of young people with ongoing support, community and learning during the crisis.

Explore the World with AFS


Study Abroad

Teens can study abroad with AFS at a high school in a new country, during an academic year, semester or trimester. They will make new friends, learn a new language, live with a global family, and become Active Global Citizens! Key components of these programs are personal growth, cultural exploration, Active Global Citizenship and belonging.  

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Virtual Exchange

High-impact, educational, fun and truly global virtual programs empower young people to become global citizens and connect with peers around the world. Based on the decades of expertise in the field, we’ll help you build your personal and professional changemaker mindset and skills.

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AFS Academies

The AFS Academies are highly focussed short-term, theme-based programs for under 18s designed to empower you to change your world, engage in hands-on activities, and learn skills vital to becoming a global citizen of tomorrow. It’s easy to see why these programs are attractive to students: they’re more affordable, easier to fit into a school career, and for many parents, they probably seem less risky in these times.

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