Next Level Program (NLP)

Certificate in Applied Agroecology and Advanced Management

Welcome returning MESA Alum! The NLP is only available if you have:

  • Successfully completed MESA’s first-level US program 2 or more years ago, and
  • Seek 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 eligible to enroll in MESA’s online courses, including the Certificate in Applied Agroecology course, at no additional charge. NLP Stewards are also always welcome to attend MESA events for free — you need only pay transportation costs to/from our SF Bay Area events.

Do I need to find my own Host placement?
No. Some alumni choose to return to their previous MESA Host. Others want to train on a new farm, agricultural organization, or ag-related business. If you want to join a new Host, MESA can provide placement assistance for a $100 fee. If you’ve already made arrangements with your former US Host or want to join a placement that isn’t yet approved by MESA, please have them contact us.

What does it cost?
NLP Stewards pay these costs before arriving in the US:

  • SEVIS I-901 fee ($220)
  • U.S. Embassy MRV fee ($160)
  • MESA fee: $175 non-refundable NLP application processing, J1 visa application packet and delivery fee
  • Airfare to/from the major airport closest to your Host placement, plus any ground transportation
  • Optional MESA fee: $100 to recruit and assign your new Host placement ($0 if you’re rejoining your former Host or if you secure your own placement that hasn’t ever participated as a MESA Host)
  • Optional GP fee: If you need assistance from one of MESA’s Global partner representatives, they may charge additional fees for their services

NLP Stewards pay these costs during the US program:

  • MESA NLP Sponsorship fee: $225/month, due by the end of each month
  • 10-15% estimated for US taxes if you receive wages

Will I receive wages during my program?
Some US Hosts offer wages or increased stipends. However, you may also choose to join an educational and/or non-profit placement that may offer food and housing, but no or little stipend. MESA can authorize temporary employment for your agriculture-related work and training if your Host pays wages. MESA will also provide a Sponsor Authorization letter for you to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) upon your US arrival.

What about Health Insurance?
Hosts are now responsible to maintain health insurance for their Stewards. However, your Host may choose to pay the insurance as part of your compensation -or- deduct your insurance cost from your stipend or wages (the cost for MESA’s recommended J1 insurance plan for Stewards is between $65-$90/month) Be sure to review your Host’s Training Plan to see if they or you will be responsible to pay for your health insurance.

My previous Host wants me to return! Can he/she help with my travel costs?
If you are returning to your previous Host, they may be willing to pay for your flight, SEVIS, Embassy fees, etc., or advance/loan you the funds to 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?

Complete this short survey now.