Host Trainer Basics
Host trainers page wages directly to trainees. Trainees are paid at or above the national minimum wage while at the placement site. However, the primary purpose of the program is learning and cultural exchange. Any applicable state minimum wage requirements may apply.
Host trainers assist participants in finding affordable and comfortable living arrangements. Depending on the training location, trainees may live in the host family's home, in another housing unit on the training site, or at another nearby location. Depending on the housing and meal situation at a placement site (which varies from host to host and is decided by the host), a certain amount 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.
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 (maximum of 60 hours in a week). Please try 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.
Trainees/interns must be 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.
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. Rather, we ask that the host trainer 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. You can view the discussion page given the trainees here.
The MAST International program is unique; in additional to practical experience, MAST offers an affordable academic experience at the University of Minnesota. The Semester Study Program allows participants to study for one semester 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 may participate in the study program if their DS-7002 includes the phase "Academic Option (Selection)" or "Academic Training." If this is not in their visa documents, they unfortunately do not have the option to study.
Host trainers pay a $100 placement fee per trainee or intern, as well as $75 per month for the length of the placement period of that trainee/intern.
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 participates and host trainers.
DS-2019: also known as a J-1 visa. 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: complete forms and keep a copy of necessary visa paperwork for your records.
I-94 Admission Number: identification number used to prove the trainee entered on a legal visa. Directions for printing a copy of the I-94 can be found here.
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. You can find more information about this process here.