YLAI Professional Fellows Program Frequently Asked Questions

Applications for the 2018 Young Leaders of the Americas (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program are now closed. For general information on the YLAI Professional Fellows Program, please visit: https://ylai.state.gov/fellowship.

Eligibility Requirements

Age
Q. On the application due date I am 35, but will be 36 once the YLAI Professional Fellows Program starts. Am I eligible for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. No, applicants who will be 36 by September 15, 2018 will not be eligible.

Q. I will not turn 25 until after the YLAI Professional Fellows Program start date. Am I eligible for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. No, applicants who have not turned 25 by September 15, 2018 will not be eligible.

Q. I have fewer than two years of experience in my entrepreneurial entity. Am I eligible to apply?
A. No, candidates must have a minimum of two years of experience in a for-profit or non-profit business. In the context of this program “social entrepreneur” is defined as an individual who implements, scales, and sustains an innovative solution to a pressing social challenge. Such social enterprises can be for-profit or non-profit. “Business entrepreneur” is defined as a person who has successfully started his or her own for-profit business. For this program, both social and business entrepreneurs have successfully grown their business for at least two years.

Q. Can applicants with disabilities apply? Why does the application ask if I have a disability?
A. Applicants with disabilities are eligible and encouraged to apply. Meridian International Center does not discriminate against people based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, national origin, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established by U.S. law. The purpose of this question is to identify what accommodations candidates with disabilities may need to complete the program. Answering this question is voluntary and will not affect your chance of acceptance. If you require additional accommodations to apply, please email us at [email protected].

Q. I do not have a passport. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. Yes, you are still eligible to apply. If accepted as a YLAI Professional Fellow, you will need to immediately apply for a passport. All YLAI Professional Fellows must be eligible to receive a J-1 visa.

Q. I have traveled to the U.S. for study or work or as a participant in an exchange program. Will this affect my candidacy for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. Previous travel, study or business in the U.S. does not affect candidate eligibility in the YLAI Program. However, we reserve the right to give priority to applicants with limited U.S. experience.

Q. Is a university degree or admission into a university required in order to apply?
A. No. Formal and informal education are considered in your application, but applicants are not required to have a university degree or to have attended college or university.

Application

Q. Can I access the application from my phone or tablet?
A. Yes, you are able to view and submit the application from your phone or tablet and anywhere with an internet connection.

Q. What browser should I use to access the application?
A. For optimal performance, we recommend using one of the following browsers: Chrome, Safari, Firefox.

Q. How should my name appear on the application?
A. Please type your name exactly as it appears on your government identification card or passport.

Q. Can I submit a paper copy of my YLAI Professional Fellows Program application?
A. The application must be submitted through the online YLAI application system. Paper applications or applications not submitted through the online YLAI application system cannot be accepted. However, if you require additional accommodations to apply, please email us at [email protected].

Q. Can I submit more than one application for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. No, you may only submit one application. Candidates who submit more than one application will not be considered for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program.

Q. What is plagiarism? What does it mean to answer a question in my own words?
A. Plagiarism means using another’s ideas or words without crediting the source. Candidates must respond to application questions on their own, using their own ideas and their own words. Meridian International Center and the U.S. Department of State will check all applications for plagiarism. Applications containing plagiarism will be disqualified. For more information, visit www.plagiarism.org.

Q. Is there a fee to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. No. There is no fee to apply for or to participate in the YLAI Professional Fellows Program.

Q. After I submit my application, can I go back and make any changes?
A. No, once you have submitted your application for review you will not be able to make any changes or add additional information. However, prior to submitting your application you may save and return to the application to make changes or to add information.

Q. I do not have a business/ organization plan or resume. Is an organization or business plan a required component of the YLAI Professional Fellows Program application? Is my resume required?
A. Yes, the application requires a business or organization plan to help reviewers understand your entrepreneurial entity’s vision, goals, and resources. The application requires your resume to understand your professional experience and abilities. You will create your business/organization plan and resume within the application by answering a series of short questions about your business/organization and your prior work and educational history.

Residency and Citizenship
Q. What countries are eligible for the program?
A. Eligible countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Q. I am a citizen of an eligible country currently living in a non-eligible country. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. No, if you are currently a resident in a non-eligible country you are not eligible for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program.

Q. I have dual citizenship in the U.S and an eligible country. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A: No, U.S. citizens and applicants with dual U.S. citizenship are not eligible to apply.

Q. I am from Aruba, Curaçao, or St. Maarten and I have Dutch citizenship. Am I eligible for the program?
A. Yes, in the specific cases of residency in Aruba, Curaçao, and St. Maarten, citizenship in the Netherlands is accepted.

Q. I am an employee of the U.S. government and a citizen or resident of an eligible country. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?

A. No, U.S. government employees, even if you are a citizen and/or resident of an eligible country, are not eligible to apply.

Language
Q. I am not proficient in English. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. No. This fellowship will be conducted in English, and YLAI Professional Fellows will be expected to be able to fully carry out work responsibilities in written and spoken English. English-language proficiency is required to participate in the YLAI Professional Fellows Program.

Q. How will language be assessed?
A. Language proficiency will be assessed based on your YLAI application and subsequent YLAI interview.

Q. My native language is not English. May I submit my application documents in my native language?
A. All application content must be submitted in English. Responses in any other language will not be reviewed.

Miscellaneous

Q. I have a family and would like to bring them with me to the U.S. if I am selected. Is this allowed?
A. No, program rules prohibit YLAI Professional Fellows from bringing their dependents and/or other family members to the U.S. during the YLAI Professional Fellows Program. Visas will not be issued for family members/dependents.

Q. What should I expect during the YLAI Professional Fellows Program?
A. Please visit ylai.state.gov/fellowship/ for YLAI Professional Fellows Program details.

Q. Will I be able to speak with investors?
A. YLAI Professional Fellows have opportunities for networking during the fellowship, and the YLAI team encourages them to reach out to potential partners and/or investors in their host cities; however, fellows should not solicit funds from their fellowship host or fellowship host institution. The YLAI team cannot guarantee that YLAI Professional Fellows will secure funding during the program as this is not a primary goal of the YLAI Professional Fellows Program. While the YLAI team encourages Fellows to connect with other organizations and businesses in their host cities, YLAI Professional Fellows must participate fully in all program activities, regardless of any individual meetings Fellows may set up for themselves.