FAQ & Requirements

Please read the FAQ and eligibility requirements carefully. If you still have questions, please email Paul Rothman (prothman@icfj.org) and Alexandra Susano (asusano@icfj.org)


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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 conducted in English. 


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 are the eligible countries?

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, ​​​​​​Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.


What is the selection process for this program?

The selection process includes 4 phases:

  1. Submit a complete application with all the information required;
  2. Internal selection review process;
  3. Interview with top candidates; and
  4. Candidate approval from the Public Affairs Section of each country’s U.S. Embassy and partner organizations on the ground.


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 approved 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.

What will my housing accommodations be during the program? 
Selected fellows will spend some time during the program in hotels/apartments and with the possibility of also spending time with homestay families during their fellowship in the host organization’s city. 


How will my newsroom placement be selected?

Fellows will be paired with U.S. media outlets across the USA at newsrooms, digital communications firms, and startup incubators. ICFJ will identify fellowship placements based on the individual fellow’s background, interests, skills, and project proposals. Please note that ICFJ cannot guarantee placement with any particular organization.


What is the program eligibility?

  • Must be between the ages of 25 and 40;
  • Must be from one of the 25 eligible countries;
  • Must be a citizen, national or permanent resident of their home country;
  • Is living and working in their home country at the time of application;
  • Has at least two years of professional experience at the time of application;
  • Submits a complete application, with all required documents, by the application deadline; 
  • Must be able to begin the Professional Fellows Program virtually in 2024 and participate in the United States in 2025;
  • Must able to receive a U.S. J-1 visa; 
  • Must be committed to returning to their home country after completion of the program; 
  • Must be 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.

When is the next call for applications?

The call for applications is from February 12 to March 11, 2024.

This is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, administered by ICFJ.