An official website of the United States government

YLAI Fellows Program Frequently Asked Questions

The application process for the next YLAI Fellowship Program is now closed. For general information on the YLAI Fellowship Program, please visit: https://ylai.state.gov/fellowship.

Eligibility Requirements

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

Q. I will not turn 25 until after the YLAI Fellowship Program start date. Am I eligible for the YLAI Fellowship Program?
A. To be eligible for the YLAI Fellowship, you must be between the ages of 25-35 by January 1, 2023.

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 as of the application close date.

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. The U.S. Department of State 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. Once the application process for the next program is announced, we will provide contact information if you require additional accommodations to apply. If you are unable to complete this online application due to a disability, please email apply.ylaifellowship@irex.org. The YLAI Team at IREX will coordinate with you directly regarding application accommodations.

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


Q. Can I submit more than one application for the YLAI Fellows Program?
A. No, you may only submit one application. Candidates who submit more than one application will not be considered for the YLAI 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. IREX 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 Fellows Program?
A. No. There is no fee to apply for or to participate in the YLAI Fellows Program.

Residency and Citizenship

Q. What countries are eligible for the program?
A. Eligible countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, 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 Fellows Program?
A. No, if you are currently a resident in a non-eligible country you are not eligible for the YLAI Fellows Program.

Q: I am a citizen of an eligible country currently living in a different eligible country. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Fellows Program?
A: Applicants who are living outside of their home countries at the time of application are eligible to apply if: 1) they meet all other eligibility criteria, 2) they are residing in a YLAI-eligible country, and 3) they are able to operate a business/organization and actively contribute to their country of residence.

Q. I have dual citizenship in the United States and an eligible country. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI 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 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.

Q. I am not proficient in English. Am I eligible to apply for the YLAI Fellows Program?
A. No. This fellowship will be conducted entirely in English, and YLAI 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 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. IREX and the U.S. Department of State reserve the right to request an additional English language evaluation where deemed necessary.


Q. What are the dates of the fellowship?
The YLAI Fellowship will begin with pre-arrival virtual programming in August 2022. Fellows will travel to the U.S. for the in-person component of the fellowship from January – February 2023. Please note that if safe travel is not possible at the time of the YLAI Fellowship, the program will be conducted virtually.

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 Fellows from bringing their dependents and/or other family members to the United States during the YLAI Fellows Program. Due to the intensive nature of the YLAI Fellows Program, successful applicants must be fully focused on their professional development and program activities during the entirety of the six-week U.S. fellowship. Therefore, the YLAI Fellows Program is an unaccompanied program and no additional guests may join any YLAI Fellows during the Fellowship. Visas will not be issued for family members/dependents.

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

Q. Will I be able to speak with investors?
A. YLAI 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 Fellows will secure funding during the program as this is not a primary goal of the YLAI Fellows Program. While the YLAI team encourages Fellows to connect with other organizations and businesses in their host cities, YLAI Fellows must participate fully in all program activities, regardless of any individual meetings Fellows may set up for themselves.

Applications are considered by the implementing partner for the YLAI Fellows Program. YLAI is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.