Can an Exchange Student Be Sent Home Early?

International exchange student programs welcome students from all over the world to America each year for an educational and cultural learning experience.

Although most exchange students have a positive stay, sometimes programs send students home early for a variety of reasons.  This is often for their own safety, such as with the Covid-19 pandemic.  Other times, the program will send the student home early because they have broken the rules of their exchange student contract or were expelled from school for whatever reason. 

An exchange student can also choose to go home early. Although this is rare, it has happened before because of a parent/grandparent being ill or the student is unable to adjust and get past their feelings of homesickness. Other times a student’s parent might lose a job which changes their financial status and makes it impossible for the student to continue in the program. 

Most high school exchange student programs are for either one or two semesters. Leaving early means returning home prior to completing the agreed-upon timeframe. 

Students Can Be Sent Home Early for Health Reasons

Medical emergencies happen with exchange students sometimes. In most cases, this is something simple like an injury resulting from playing sports or the student having a minimally invasive procedure such as their wisdom teeth removed. But what happens if an exchange student is diagnosed with a serious disease like cancer or lupus? What about psychological problems like eating disorders or clinical depression? Notably, all these conditions can put the student in danger. Consequently, the program might require that the student go home early even if the host family wants the student to stay.  Along with minimizing your liability, the student will probably fare better when at home with their loved ones. 

Foreign Exchange Students Can Be Sent Home for Behavioral Reasons 

Although all exchange student programs vet their applicants, some students may not reveal their real motives for studying abroad during an interview. They might say everything the program wants to hear, but instead of coming to America to improve their English or learn about a different culture, they are more motivated by a desire to party and experience the excitement of American nightlife. Definitely the programs encourage the kids to have fun with their peers, but risky behaviors like hanging with the wrong crowd, skipping school, staying out past curfew, or having sex are prohibited and are grounds for dismissal. 

Illegal Drug Use

Any drug use, other than those prescribed by a physician, is strongly prohibited. This includes the use of cocaine, inhalants, ketamine, and marijuana. That said, any student caught using or in possession of illicit substances will be sent home early. 

Drinking Alcoholic Beverages

Other countries often allow teens to drink alcohol at home and in restaurants. However, by law under-aged drinking is prohibited here in the United States. This doesn’t mean that teens in America don’t drink because they do.  However, an exchange student signs an agreement that they will not drink while enrolled in the program. That said, although some might think having a drink is a minor infraction, it is a serious breach of contract for exchange students. Exchange student programs take this seriously and will send a student home early if it catches them purchasing or drinking liquor. 

Criminal Actions

There was once an exchange student who hacked into the school’s computer system and charged students to change their grades. Along with breaking the school policy, this was also a criminal act. Because of his actions, this student was sent home before completing the semester.  Fortunately, the school chose not to file criminal charges. 

Any exchange student engaged in criminal activity will have their student visa revoked. Without their visa, they cannot remain in the United States and thus must go home immediately. Even scarier, a student who engages in criminal activity can also face heavy fines or even prison time. Foreign exchange students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the law of the land. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. 

Breaking House Rules

Foreign exchange students are expected to cooperate with and respect the rules of their host family. When there are problems, the exchange student program will intervene with counseling and behavior modification plans. If these are unsuccessful repeated acts of disrespecting the home and family could result in a student being sent home. 

Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

The foreign exchange student is on either a J-1 or F-1 visa. This visa means that the student is admitted into this country for academic purposes only. As a part of the agreement, they must attend school regularly and perform satisfactorily in class. Being guests of the high school, they are also expected to adhere to all the guidelines of the school. This includes policies about grade point average, showing respect to teachers, no physical or verbal violence, and no weapons on campus. A student can be sent home early for breaking any of these rules. More importantly, if a foreign exchange student is expelled from school, he/she must immediately go back home. 

A Student Chooses to Go Home Early

In a few rare instances, such as a global pandemic, a student might choose to cut their stay in America short. Although every exchange student program discourages this and will do what they can to help the student continue their stay, it still happens sometimes. This could be because of something that happened at home or because the student is extremely unhappy. Either way, programs will permit students to go home early voluntarily with the permission of their legal parents/guardians. 

Exchange student programs cannot dismiss students without due process. This procedure typically involves an informal hearing with the local coordinator and regional director along with interviews with interested parties such as school administrators and host parents. If it is decided to send the student home, the program will make all the necessary travel arrangements. In cases where there have been behavioral issues, the student may be moved from their host family to the home of an administrator within the program.