Bring the World to Your Doorstep: Become a MAST International Host Trainer
Hosting an international exchange visitor provides a mentoring opportunity for you and an experience of a lifetime for a young professional. You gain a skilled intern who is eager to learn and provide them with training and cultural opportunities. MAST can help you match you with one of our qualified applicants, or if you already have a trainee in mind, we can assist with the visa process.
MAST International is designated by the U.S. Department of State to issue J-1 visas, a visa that allows non-U.S. citizens to have a paid internship experience in the U.S. MAST International works with country partners across the globe who help evaluate prospective applicants, assist through the visa approval appointments at the embassy, provide pre-departure orientations and may assist with travel arrangements.
Why Choose MAST International?
There is a simple application process to become a host trainer. MAST International coordinates all necessary paperwork for participants to apply for a J-1 visa.
As the oldest agriculture-related exchange program in the U.S., we have a strong reputation and a seasoned, professional staff with significant experience and training in international exchange.
MAST International staff provide ongoing support to exchange visitors and host trainers; they visit training sites and are available to answer questions or resolve conflicts should they arise.
Host trainers pay $175 for placements scheduled for 1-4 months. For placements longer than 4 months, host trainers pay a $100 placement fee per trainee or intern, as well as a $75 hosting fee per month for the length of the placement period. Your fees allow MAST International to recruit applicants, have a placement coordinator match you with trainees, create a customized training plan for each participant, and offer J-1 visa sponsorship, U.S. Embassy assistance, and ongoing guidance and support.
- Discuss your hosting preferences with a MAST placement coordinator.
- Complete a short host trainer application.
- Review intern applications and select the best fit for your organization.
- MAST International starts the visa paperwork, requiring signatures from you.
- The visa paperwork is mailed to the applicant, which they take to their visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in their home country.
- The trainee arrives! If they are training for longer than 4 months, they attend an orientation in the Twin Cities.
- You provide an on-site orientation, including a tour of the operation, safety information, and general expectations.
- You guide the trainee's day-to-day training, rotating them throughout your organization and providing cultural opportunities.
- You and MAST International monitor the trainee's training and growth throughout their program.
Host trainers pay wages directly to trainees. Trainees are paid at or above the state and national minimum wage while at the placement site. Although the primary focus of the program is on cultural and educational exchange, trainees and interns should be fairly compensated and paid a wage similar to the standard industry and regional standard salary.
Host trainers assist participants in finding affordable and comfortable living arrangements. Most trainees live in a separate unit at the training site or in a nearby location, and trainees can also live in the host family's home. Depending on the housing and meal situation at a placement site, some of the cost for room and board may be deducted from each participant's paycheck. If the trainee is living outside of the host's home or training site, the host trainer should assist in finding living arrangements that are not too costly for the area or should assist in subsidizing the housing costs.
Host trainers are responsible for ensuring that the hourly wages and room and board compensation comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act.
Trainees and interns are required by the Department of State to train at least 32 hours per week. MAST requests that you provide at least 40 hours per week. Trainees and interns are allowed to work over 40 hours per week. We do understand that during peak work periods, such as planting or harvesting, they may be asked to work long hours, which should be no more than a maximum of 60 hours in a week. Host trainers are to keep hours reasonable and ensure trainees/interns are getting enough time off.
Trainees and interns must receive a minimum of 1 day off for each week of training. Time off may be one day per week or two days every other week.
Long-term trainees/interns are allowed to accumulate two days per month of unpaid vacation, which can be accrued and used during the training period. Some trainees/interns may not choose to utilize their vacation time, but all must be given the opportunity to. Participants are told to arrange vacations with their host trainer in advance and are advised that the vacation should not be taken during peak work periods.
All MAST International trainees/interns are subject to withholding of federal, state, and local taxes. You are responsible for taking the appropriate taxes out of your trainee/intern’s paychecks. MAST participants are exempt from FICA and FUTA withholding. Because tax laws are complex and ever-changing, the MAST staff is unable to give tax advice. Please confer with your personal accountant or a tax specialist.
2021 COVID Update: MAST is not currently offering in-person orientations; we are providing alternative online orientation materials to trainees.
Trainees that will be in the US for longer than 4 months are required to attend an orientation on the Saint Paul campus at the University of Minnesota. Typically, they attend this orientation when they arrive before traveling to the farm. Host trainers reimburse up to $150 of the costs of traveling from orientation to the training site. Orientations are held approximately once a month on a Monday and Tuesday; trainees then travel to the training site on Tuesday evening or Wednesday.
Short-term placements (1-4 months) are not required to attend a MAST International orientation at the University of Minnesota and instead receive comprehensive online orientation materials.
Host trainer are expected provide an orientation at the training site. Topics to be discussed include overall operation and procedures, equipment use and policies, safety on the operation, medical and weather emergency procedures, training hours and expectations, drug and alcohol use, state and federal laws, etc.
MAST Study Program
The MAST International program is unique; in additional to practical experience, MAST offers an optional semester-long academic experience at the University of Minnesota in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Exchange visitors pay a highly reduced tuition rate to participate. This experience with top professors and researchers has afforded many MAST International alumni with professional opportunities upon returning to their home countries.
Trainees and interns can participate in the study program after they complete their practical training if it aligns with their training program dates. The fall semester is September through December and the spring semester is January through May.
For 1-4 month placements, there is a flat $175 hosting fee.
For placements longer than 4 months, host trainers pay a $100 placement fee per trainee or intern, as well as a $75 hosting fee per month for the length of the placement period.
Support from MAST
The MAST International staff has extensive international experience and training. They are responsible for providing educational leadership and guidance to all participants during their time on the program. Staff members assist in developing Training/Internship Placement Plans for participants, visit participants at their training sites, support and advise participants and hosts throughout the time on the program, and evaluate the experiences of participants and host trainers.
We are always available to be contacted with questions or concerns.
DS-2019: This is the trainee's or intern's key visa document, which shows they are allowed to live and work in the U.S. The dates listed on this form are the dates the trainee is allowed to work in the USA. The dates can be amended if necessary. Trainees may arrive 30 days before the start date and may stay in the USA for 30 days after the end date on the DS-2019 (but they cannot work during this time).
DS-7002: The Training/Internship Placement Plan, which provides an overview of the trainee's experience and responsibilities.
Entry Visa: The visa in the trainee's passport with allows them to enter the USA.
I-9 Form: You will complete this form when a trainee or intern begins working to verify their identity and employment eligibility.
I-94 Admission Number: This identification number is used to prove the trainee entered on a legal visa.
Social Security Number: All trainees are required to apply for a Social Security number. This can only be done after MAST staff have validated their arrival.