Hours of Training
Practical training in agriculture is hard work and can require long hours each day. Participants typically work at least 40 hours per week and sometimes more; participants are guaranteed at least 32 hours of work per week. A short growing season and unpredictable weather often mean participants work long hours during peak periods, such as planting or harvest.
Participants are paid at or above the national minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) while at the placement site. Host trainers are allowed to deduct up to $250 from each participant's monthly pay for room and board. Overtime will not be paid except where state or federal law mandates it, or where it is the choice of the host trainer. Some placements may have an alternative compensation package (typically a monthly stipend) which shall be agreed upon by all parties prior to the beginning of the program. All participants are subject to state and federal income taxes, which may be withheld from the participant's paycheck. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the program is learning and cultural exchange, not to make money.
Participants should receive a minimum of one day off each week during the practical training period. Time off is unpaid and may be scheduled as one day per week or two days every other week (agreed upon between the participant and the host trainer). Exceptions will occur during peak periods when participants are expected to be flexible about arranging their time off.
Participants will receive two days of unpaid vacation for each month of the practical training period. These days may be accumulated, and should be arranged to be taken during the practical training period. Timing of the vacation must be approved by the host trainer and may not be taken during peak work periods. In addition, participants have a 30-day grace period following their program to prepare for departure from the U.S. Often participants will travel around the USA during this grace period.
Housing/Room & Board
Applicants indicate a preference for housing on the application, however, this choice cannot be guaranteed. Some participants live with and take all meals with a family; others live on their own and are responsible for some or all meals. Each situation is different and will be discussed during the placement process. Host trainers are allowed to deduct up to $250 from each participant's monthly pay for room and board. Host trainers assist in finding living arrangements that are a reasonable cost for the area. The only time a participant is responsible for finding their own housing is if he/she participates in the semester study program in St. Paul, Minnesota and guidance and resources will be provided by MAST to aid in finding housing.
Location of Training
Placements are located throughout the USA. Agricultural placements are usually located in rural areas. Horticultural placements are most often located in urban areas.
Qualified host trainers are screened, interviewed, and evaluated by the MAST program. Many have participated in a host trainer orientation and have been a part of the MAST program for several years.
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, provide orientations upon arrival in the USA, visit participants at their training sites, support and advise participants and hosts throughout their time on the MAST International program, and evaluate the experiences of participants and host trainers.
Orientation in Minnesota
Participants that will be in the U.S. for longer than 4 months start their program by attending a mandatory orientation at the University of Minnesota. Attendees get an overview of their program, get a chance to meet other MAST participants, and get introduced to American culture. (Short-term placements receive online orientation materials in place of an in-person orientation.)
The training/internship fee is based on the length of practical experience and can range from $600 - $1,200. You must pay $600 at the time of your arrival in the USA and the remainder of your program fee will be parceled into payments due during your first few months in the U.S.
|1 to 4 months||$600|
|10 to 12 months||$1,200|
Health Insurance - Health insurance is required for all J-1 exchange visitors in the USA. MAST International offers two insurance policies and the cost ranges from $65-$87 per month. Participants can bring their own insurance but it must meet certain requirements. MAST participants receive guidance for purchasing health insurance before they arrive in the USA.
Optional Semester Study Program - Provides one semester of classes for $1,500. Other expenses not included in this fee are housing, food, transportation, books, and supplies.
Country Partner - MAST works with a network of Country Partners located in participants' home countries, who help participants to complete their MAST applications, apply for their U.S. visa, and prepare for their trip to the USA. Your Country Partner may charge a fee for their services.
Other Expenses - Participants are required to pay for I-901 SEVIS Fee ($220), travel to orientation in Minnesota, travel to their placement site in the USA, and for their return trip home.
The cost of your program includes:
- A customized training plan and placement at a U.S. business
- J-1 visa sponsorship and U.S. Embassy assistance
- Social security application assistance
- Pre-departure packet and participant handbook
- Airport pick-up, accommodation, t-shirt and most meals when attending orientation in Minnesota
- Transportation coordination to your placement site and $150 paid by your host trainer
- Access to MAST staff throughout your program
- 24-hour emergency support