Program rules

What should you do if you want to travel abroad during your J1 internship? What if you would like to change your host company? Can you get a second job during your J1 training?

Let’s discuss some important program rules guiding IIUSA internships.


Changing host companies

In certain cases you are allowed to change companies during your internship program. Such cases include your host company going bankrupt or downsizing its operations, eliminating the need to have an intern. If this ever happens to you, please rest assured that we will help find another company for you and if you suspect that such a thing is about to happen, contact us.

If you are thinking of changing host companies “just because” or because some other company offered you a better paid position, your host company change request is unlikely to be approved by your visa sponsor and IIUSA – you have to have a compelling reason for host company change and money and “just because” are not good enough reasons.

Keep in mind that when you were just an applicant your current company invested their time and effort into hiring you and by signing the training plan you have committed to training with them for the entire duration of your J1 training as listed on your training plan and DS-2019. So, unless they fail to provide training according to the written training plan, you are both committed to each other.

However, if your current host company is not following the training plan and is mistreating you in any way, let us know and we will investigate the case and change your training site if your company is indeed at fault. We do not allow our interns to be mistreated by companies; we also do not allow companies to be mistreated by interns.

If for any reason you are searching for another host company, keep in mind that not all US businesses qualify to host interns. Read our host company eligibility criteria to find out more.

Extending your internship

If you are here in the US as a:

  • J1 intern doing a 6 month internship
  • J1 trainee doing a 6 or 12 month internship in any training field other than Hospitality and Tourism

you can extend your training program through IIUSA and your visa sponsor.

Exceptions to this rule are Hospitality and Tourism trainees who can only come here for 12 months maximum and can only extend their program from 6 to 12 months. If you are changing your training site during the extension period, please take a look at host company eligibility criteria and read through the “Changing host companies” entry above.

Repeating your internship

If you are on a J1 training visa right now or if you ever had J1 training or internship visas in the past, keep in mind that you can take part in these programs more than once. The general rule is that the repeat training/internship program cannot duplicate the program/training plan you have already had. We covered all the J1 repeat scenarios in our recent blog post.

Second job

Many interns wonder if they are allowed to get second jobs during their training. The answer is no, secondary employment is not allowed on J1 internship and training programs and if you get caught working for a company other than the one listed on your training plan, it is considered unauthorized employment and your visa sponsor will terminate your training program and visa immediately.


If you are here on a J1 internship or training visa, it is perfectly legal for you to take classes at a US-based college or university as long as your studies are related to your field of training. To explain your legal status to the International Students Office of any US university or college, show them your DS-2019. Note that you still have to discuss your academic plans with your host company, especially if your class schedule interferes with your training hours.

Traveling abroad

You are allowed to travel abroad during your training program if

  • you have your host company’s permission to have time off
  • you still have a valid, multiple-entry J1 visa in your passport (otherwise you will have to renew your J1 visa to come back to the US)
  • you will be traveling outside the United States for less than 30 consecutive days
  • your visa sponsor put a travel validation signature on your original form DS-2019, which looks like this

ds2019 travel validation

The travel validation signature is valid for one year for multiple visits outside the U.S. or until the DS-2019 expires, whichever comes first. Since you have to mail the original form to your visa sponsor and they have to mail it back to you, make sure to plan ahead and get the signature with the form back several weeks before your overseas travels.