SAGE – NEXT LEVEL PROGRAM (NLP)
Welcome returning MESA Alum! The NLP requires that you:
- Successfully completed MESA’s first-level US program 2 or more years ago, and
- Want to advance your agricultural skills, particularly in management.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the NLP differ from my first-year MESA program?
The NLP helps returning Stewards gain leadership and management experience. As a NLP Steward, you may start your US program whenever a suitable Host is available, and you may participate for up to one year.
NLP Stewards are invited, but not required, to enroll in MESA’s new Global Partner-facilitated Sustainable Agriculture Education Program (SAEP) courses on Global Food Systems and Global Citizenship (certificate course completion is now required for all first-time Stewards), for a reduced $100 fee. NLP Stewards are also always welcome to join free monthly webinars, courses and/or workshops facilitated by MESA and our US partners, as available.
Do I need to find my own Host placement?
MESA welcomes alumni to seek out their own placements, and we are also happy to match alumni with current Host partners, on a case-by-case basis. Some alumni may want to return to their previous Host, however this option is only considered if 1. your prior Host placement creates an advanced training plan that offers different activities from your first program, and 2. you have not already completed a NLP with the same Host. MESA also welcomes your interest to train on a new farm, farm education center, or sustainable supply chain business. If you’ve received an invitation from your former US Host from your first program season, or if you identify a new placement that has not yet joined MESA, please let MESA know who to contact on your behalf, or invite them to contact us.
What does it cost?
NLP Stewards pay these costs before arriving in the US:
- MESA NLP Sponsorship fee: $1850 for 4-12 month training program, or $1250 if your U.S. program is less than 4 months. Payment due as follows:
- $500 non-refundable deposit due upon Host placement confirmation and before MESA delivers your visa application.
- Your NLP fee balance of $1350 (or $750 for 1-4 month program) is due only upon visa authorization and prior to your U.S. arrival.
- SEVIS I-901 fee ($220)
- U.S. Embassy J-1 interview fee ($185)
- Airfare to/from the major airport closest to your Host placement, plus any ground transportation
- Optional GP fee: If you need assistance from one of MESA’s Global partner representatives, they may charge additional fees for their services
- Optional MESA fee: $275 if you request relocation -or- want to extend your U.S. program (up to the 12-month maximum duration)
NLP Stewards are responsible for these costs during the US program:
- 10-15% estimated for US taxes if you receive a stipend or wages
Will I receive wages during my program?
Maybe. MESA authorizes US Hosts to offer wages or increased stipends for our successful alumni. However, you may also choose to join an educational and/or non-profit placement that may offer food and housing with little or no stipend.
If your Host does offer an hourly wage or larger stipend, you may need to pay for some of your own US living costs such as food and housing (compensation will be clearly detailed in the Host information that MESA will share with you before you accept the Host invitation). If you receive wages, MESA will authorize temporary employment for your agriculture-related training. We also provide a Sponsor Authorization letter for you to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) upon your US arrival.
What about Health Insurance?
Unless your Host provides separate insurance, MESA will enroll you in a health insurance plan and your Host will reimburse MESA. MESA will maintain your insurance throughout your US training program, and we will assist you with insurance claims if you need medical care. It is important to note that MESA’s health insurance does not pay for dental, vision or treatment for a pre-existing condition.
My previous first program season Host wants me to return! Can he/she help with my travel costs?
If you are returning to your previous Host for your first NLP, they may be willing to contribute toward your flight, SEVIS and/or Embassy fees. Your former host may also choose to loan you the funds which you must pay back during your program. Please be sure to tell MESA if your Host has agreed to help with your visa and/or travel expenses.
Do NLP Stewards pay taxes on US wages?
If the Host pays wages, yes. However, J1 trainees typically pay 10-15% less in taxes than Americans.
Ready to Apply?
*When you email us, please describe your:
- Host placement preferences
- training objectives
- desired dates of training