Program FAQ and Eligibility Requirements

Please read the FAQ and eligibility requirements carefully. If you still have questions, please email Cassandra Balfour at cbalfour@icfj.org.

General Program FAQ:

What are the costs to participate in this program?
Selected fellows will have all program costs covered by ICFJ and the Department of State, including travel, housing, and emergency travel insurance. Fellows will also receive a stipend to cover living costs during the program. There are no costs to participate in the program.

What level of English proficiency is required?
Participants should have very strong English reading, writing, and speaking skills. The application should be filled out in English, and the interview will be in conducted in English. For more eligibility requirements, see below.

What is the Professional Fellows program?
This two-way exchange fellowship program brings young professionals to the United States to complete professional fellowships, while promoting mutual understanding and enhancing leadership. The Professional Fellows Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Professional Fellows Division.

What is the selection process for this program?
There will be two separate rounds of selection for this program. Applications for the spring 2018 program will open in the fall of 2017. During late 2017 and early 2018, ICFJ will evaluate applications in consultation with the Public Affairs Section of each country’s U.S. Embassy and partner organizations on the ground. During early 2018, program finalists will be interviewed before being accepted into the program. Only completed applications submitted by the deadline will be considered.

How would I get a U.S. visa? Can I travel on a U.S. tourism visa?
All selected fellows must travel on a J-1 exchange visa regardless whether the participant has a tourist visa. If you are selected for the program, ICFJ will help facilitate the J-1 visa process, and all visa fees will be covered by the program. Selected fellows will not need to apply for the visa on their own. If you the fellow has to travel for the visa interview, reasonable costs will be reimbursed. Although ICFJ will help facilitate the visa interviews, the consular section at each embassy or consulate has sole discretion to grant or deny J-1 visas. Please note that all J-1 visa holders are subject to certain rules including a two-year home-country physical presence requirement after the program. This means the fellow will be required to return to the home country for two years at the end of the exchange visitor program. For more information, please read here.

I can’t participate in the program in spring 2018. Can I apply for the fall 2018 program?
Applications for the fall 2018 program will open sometime in spring 2018. Applicants who apply in fall 2017 will be considered for the spring 2018 program.

What housing will I stay in during the program?
Selected fellows will spend some time during the program in hotels/apartments and some time during the fellowship with home-stay families in the host organization’s city. Participating in the home-stay experience is required for all selected fellows.

What will my fellowship placement be?
ICFJ will identify fellowship placements based on the individual fellow’s interests, background and skills. Please note that ICFJ cannot guarantee any particular organization.

Program Eligibility:

The program is open to young professionals and emerging leaders between the ages of 25 and 40 who meet the following criteria:
• Is a citizen, national or permanent resident of their home country;
• Is living and working in his/her home country at the time of application;
• Has at least two (2) years of professional experience at the time of application;
• Submits a complete application, with all required documents, by the application deadline;
• Is able to begin the Professional Fellows Program in the United States in 2018;
• Is able to receive a U.S. J-1 visa;
• Is committed to returning to his/her home country after completion of the program;
• Is proficient in spoken and written English at the time of application.

Individuals in the following circumstances are NOT eligible for the Professional Fellows Program:
• U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents of the United States;
• Spouses of U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents of the United States;
• Individuals participating in academic, training or research programs in the United States at the time of application;
• Individuals residing or working outside their home countries at the time of application;
• Individuals who have participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored or funded by the U.S. Government (e.g., U.S. Department of State, Public Affairs Sections of U.S. Embassies or other U.S. government agencies) who have not fulfilled their two-year home residency requirement by the time of application;
• Individuals who have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years;
• Employees and their families of non-profit organizations who administer the Professional Fellows Program on behalf of the U. S. Department of State. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting members of families who live apart from their parents;
• Local employees of the U.S. missions abroad who work for the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development are ineligible during the period of their employment and for one year following the termination of employment;
• Immediate families (i.e., spouses and dependent children) of U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development employees for a period of one year following the termination of such employment. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting members of families who live apart from their parents.