International Stewards:

SAGE & J-1 Trainee Visa Eligibility

Candidates must meet eligibility requirements for both SAGE and for the J-1 visa for agricultural trainees. For SAGE, you must be:

  • Keenly interested in ecological agriculture or sustainable food systems;
  • Age 21 -34;
  • Excellent health;
  • Eager for daily, rigorous, hands-on agricultural training;
  • Interviewed by MESA staff via Zoom, or nominated/interviewed by a MESA representative in your home country;
  • Able to pay ALL pre-program expenses, including: SAEP course (first time candidates only), round-trip flight, visa fees (forms I-901 and Nonimmigrant visa processing), U.S. program fee (SAGE or NLP) and, if applicable: home country representative fee;
  • Free of financial obligations to send money home. Candidates whose dependents will experience economic hardship in their absence are not eligible.

For the J-1 trainee visa in agriculture category, you must have:

  • Five years of work experience in agriculture -OR- one year of agriculture experience plus an academic degree or professional certificate from a post-secondary institution
  • Basic English to communicate with your U.S. Host;
  • Proof of economic and social ties to your home country;
  • Firm commitment to return home upon program completion.

For the U.S. State Department’s detailed J1 visa eligibility criteria, please visit this page.

To apply for the J-1 visa, you must assemble various documents, and schedule your in-person interview at the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country.

Documents needed for your U.S. Consul interview

(Required documents in Bold font; additional/suggested documents in normal font)

Supplied by MESA

  • Form DS-2019 – Your J-1 visa application. It is signed by your program sponsor (MESA) and you.
  • Form DS-7002 – Your Training/ Internship Placement Plan. It is signed by you, MESA and your U.S. Host.
  • SEVIS I-901 form* – Your $720 SAGE deposit may include your $220 SEVIS I-901 fee unless you live in a country that does not permit online payment for SEVIS. For most candidates, MESA will file and pay the form upon receipt of your initial program deposit and SEVIS invoice. Your SEVIS Receipt will be enclosed with your visa documents delivered to you by MESA.

Supplied by You

  • Valid passport
  • 2” x 2” Photos. Click here for visa photo requirements.
  • *SEVIS form 1-901 – See above. Depending on your home country, you may need to file and pay this U.S. government form by yourself if your country is excluded from online payment/filing of this form. e.g. Kenyan applicants are currently excluded from I-901 payment/filing online.
  • Form DS-160 – This nonimmigrant US visa form costs $185 to file in most countries, and must be paid by you before your U.S. Consul appointment.
  • Form DS-158 for married men, if applicable (refer to U.S. Embassy web site to determine if this form is required)
  • Printed copies of the U.S. Host Application & Training Plan (print it from the link MESA sends with your Host invitation)
  • Marriage certificate if married
  • Birth certificates of your children, if any
  • Employer release letter and/or confirmation of employment upon return home
  • Proof of salary/wages from recent Employer(s)
  • Your own and/or family Bank statement
  • Property documents such as title deed and log books, if available
  • Spouse letter if married, indicating acceptance of your program participation
  • Any other documentation that you can provide to show you do not intend to immigrate to the U.S., including: evidence of prior travel abroad, support/reference letters from reputable professionals, professors, employers, etc.