International Stewards:

J1 Visa Eligibility

Candidates must meet eligibility requirements for both the US-based program and the J1 visa.

To qualify for US program consideration, you must be:

  • Very interested in ecological agriculture or sustainable food systems;
  • Age 21 or older;
  • In excellent health;
  • Eager for daily, rigorous, hands-on agricultural training;
  • Interviewed with MESA staff via Skype, or nominated by a MESA representative in your home country;
  • Free of financial obligations to send money home. Candidates whose dependents will experience economic hardship in their absence are not eligible;
  • Able to pay these pre-program expenses: round-trip flight, visa fees (forms I-901 and DS-160), US program fee (SAGE or NLP) and, if applicable: home country representative fee.

To qualify for the J1 agricultural trainee visa, you need:

  • 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 agricultural experience;
  • Basic English to communicate on a day-to-day basis with the US Host;
  • Proof of economic and social ties to your home country;
  • Firm commitment to return home upon program completion.

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

To apply for the J1 visa, you must assemble various documents, and schedule your in-person interview at the nearest US Consulate or Embassy in your home country.

Documents needed for your US Consul interview

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

Supplied by MESA

  • Form DS-2019 – Your J1 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 US 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 US 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 US, including: evidence of prior travel abroad, support/reference letters from reputable professionals, professors, employers, etc.