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Culture and Travel

Go exploring!

Exploring the U.S.

One of the great things about CIEE Internship USA is the option to independently explore the United States. It adds a whole new dimension to the training experience. You can go anywhere you like – the only limits are imagination, budget, and the expiration dates of your visa and insurance coverage.

Personal exploration is an important part of cultural exchange, and most host organizations encourage travel by being flexible about time off during the program. Your host organization also can share recommendations for places to go and things to do; the U.S. has many hidden gems that tourists rarely discover.

You can travel during or after the program, as long as you have insurance coverage. Note that the J-1 Visa allows up to 30 additional days for travel after a DS-2019 expires. If you plan to travel after your DS-2019 end date, make sure to discuss this with your international representative so that you purchase insurance for the correct duration.

Traveling outside the U.S.

You also can travel outside the United States during the program, as long as CIEE approves the trip. However, there are some guidelines to be followed:

  • You may only travel outside the United States during the train dates in Box 3 of your DS-2019, and for no longer than 30 days
  • You must be authorized to enter the United States on more than one occasion. The number of times you’re allowed to enter the United States is indicated on your J-1 Visa under the section “Entries.” You can have multiple entries if the letter “M” appears in this section. If it does not, you’re only allowed to enter the U.S. the specific number of times indicated (usually one or two).
  • If you travel outside the United States, you must have your original DS-2019 signed for travel by CIEE and receive a Letter of Good Standing. Mail your DS-2019 and a note explaining your travel plans to CIEE (via the U.S. Postal Service, not email). Include a prepaid UPS or FedEx return envelope (from CIEE to your U.S. mailing address), and we’ll return your DS-2019 form and Letter of Good Standing. For detailed instructions on how to obtain proper travel validation from CIEE, call 1-888-268-6245, or email us.
  • Notify CIEE by phone or email two weeks before any trip outside the United States to ensure you get your DS-2019 signed and returned
  • Travel to Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas) is covered by CIEE insurance. Travel anywhere else outside the United States is not.
  • Your J-1 Visa must be valid and the dates on your DS-2019 must be current when re-entering the U.S. You won’t be allowed back into the U.S. with an expired DS-2019, even for connecting flights! It’s your responsibility to make sure you meet reentry requirements.
  • Do not travel without your signed DS-2019 form. Doing so will cause delays of 30 to 90 days before you may re-enter the country, while the Department of Homeland Security processes your paperwork.
  • Depending on your home country, you may be required to have a visa for the country you’re traveling to. Be sure to check with your embassy before traveling anywhere outside the United States.
  • If you have multiple trips outside of the U.S. planned, depending on the timing of your travel, you may not need to get an updated travel validation for each one. Please contact CIEE before sending in your DS-2019 form to get requirements for your specific travel plan.
  • Although you can choose to stay in the United States for up to 30 days after your program ends, you should not travel outside the continental United States during this period.

Travel tips

There are so many things to discover, people to meet, and places to see in the United States! While you’re exploring this great country, please keep safety in mind to make sure your travel experience is the best it can be:

  • Travel with friends when possible
  • Plan ahead. Research hotels, hostels, and transportation if traveling for more than one day.
  • Always tell friends and colleagues where you’re going and when you’ll be back
  • Make sure you have contact information for friends and your host organization, and give them your phone number, too
  • Take important documents with you
  • Protect personal property by keeping it in a safe place; if there are safes where you’re staying, lock up your valuables and important documents
  • Never hitchhike! In addition to being unsafe, it’s illegal in many states.

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