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 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 or with an agricultural organization or 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:

  • MESA fee: $175 non-refundable NLP application processing, J1 visa application packet and delivery fee
  • Flight to/from the Host placement
  • SEVIS I-901 fee ($180)
  • U.S. Embassy MRV fee ($160)
  • 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 is not already an approved MESA Host)
  • Optional GP fee: If you need assistance from one of MESA’s Global partner representatives, they may charge a small fee for their services

NLP Stewards pay these costs during the US program:

  • Health insurance. You can self-enroll in an online insurance plan that costs between $35-$70/month (upon request, MESA will provide resources for online plans that meet State Department requirements for J1 trainees). If you self-enroll, you must send a copy of your valid policy to MESA to ensure compliance. Or,  you can choose to have MESA enroll you and provide administrative support for a recommended health insurance plan for $90/month, with a two-month minimum.
  • 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?
Many US Hosts offer wages or increased stipends. However, you may also choose to join an educational and/or non-profit placement that does not offer wages. MESA will authorize temporary employment for your agriculture-related work and training. To receive wages, you must apply for a Social Security number after your US arrival.

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.

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