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: round-trip flight, visa fees (forms I-901 and DS-160), 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- an academic degree or professional certificate from a post-secondary institution with at least one year of agriculture experience;
  • 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 the program sponsor (MESA) and you.
  • Form DS-7002 – Your Training/ Internship Placement Plan. It is signed by you, MESA and your U.S. Host.

Supplied by You

  • Valid passport
  • 2” x 2” Photos. Click here for visa photo requirements.
  • SEVIS form 1-901 – This US government form costs $220, and may be filed online after MESA issues your DS-2019 form.
  • Form DS-160 – This non-immigrant US visa form costs $160 to file in most countries, and must be paid 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.