BEFORE THE PROGRAM:
Q. What type of training is offered?
A. All of our participants train in businesses related to agriculture. We offer internship placements in:
- greenhouses ( tropical plants, annuals, vegetables, cut flowers )
- outdoor nurseries and garden centers
- animals ( dairy, swine, equine )
- crop production and machinery
- mixed (grain and animals)
- turfgrass management
Placements are limited. We place interns according to their honest interests and on education and experience.
Q. When can I start my adventure?
A. We accept applications year around. The best time to apply, however, is in September-February to start training between December-May. This is the time when most placements are available. Sutable applications received before or during the peak time are often placed in just a couple of days.
Q. How much will I earn? Will I get paid overtime?
A. First, remember that this is an internship program not a work program. You are guaranteed to receive compensation, and the federal minimum wage in the USA is $7.25 at the moment, higher in many States. You are guaranteed to receive compensation for 40 hrs a week. It may happen in a slow season that will be less than 40 hours and in the peak times more. Potentially over 60 hrs a week during the busiest time.
Extra pay for any overtime hours you complete is not required of agricultural or horticultural businesses under U.S. law. Only some companies opt to pay 150% of the regular hourly compensation for any hour over the normal 40 hour week.
Q. Will I be insured while on the program?
A. Yes, having good health insurance is one of requirements to participate in any J1 program. Almost all participants buy the insurance directly from TOP as it offers excellent value and exceeds US Department of State minimums. If you wish, we can send to you a detailed description of the insurance we offer. During training hours, you will be covered by insurance provided by your host. This policy is called Workers Compensation. This insurance protects you against work related accidents.
Remember! Interns' insurance does not cover any pre-existing conditions. This means that if you arrive with a broken leg to the USA, our insurance will not pay bills related to this injury. The same rule applies to long-term health issues such as diabetes.
Q. Will I have to pay any taxes?
A. Yes, you will. You will also have to complete tax forms / return early in the following year. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send to you a tax refund check about 2- 3 months after you submit your paperwork to them. You can expect to receive some of your paid taxes back - but precisely how much depends on variables such as: how much tax you paid, what was your income, what is your nationality, how much time you remained in the USA and more. TOP will provide to you tax software that will help you to resolve your tax return documents.
Q. Where will I live and how much will this cost?
A. When you arrive, a house or an apartment will be waiting for you. Very often accommodation is provided for free or at a subsidized rate compared to rental properties in that area. Sometimes you will live in a regular, commercially rented apartment. In this cases the rent may cost you more but you can expect to be paid well enough to cover rent. Before you agree to your particular placement you will receive all needed information concerning your pay, accommodation, responsibilities etc.
Q. You ask for reference letters to be submitted with application to your program. Why?
A. We cannot emphasize enough how important reference letters are to your future career. After receiving your application we send it to many companies which we feel can best offer you the type of internship experience you are seeking. It is up to them to select you from competing applications. This is why your application should be prepared well. You will have to provide at least two good letters of reference, preferably from former employers. Some students send letters of reference from their college, from teachers and professors. These are acceptable, however recommendation from agricultural enterprises are worth more.
Q. How long can I participate in The Ohio Program?
A. Majority of TOP participants can only remain in the USA for 12 months plus one additional month for travel (grace period). Shorter internships are available.
DURING THE PROGRAM:
Q: I plan to leave and re-enter the US during my program. What do I need to do?
A: If you are traveling with a valid J1 visa and original visa stamp/sticker in your passport, you need to send us your most recent DS2019 and a copy of your flight itinerary with good return address. If there is a rush, you will need to send this via special courier delivery (UPS, FedEx, Priority Mail etc) with either a self-addressed, pre-paid return envelope enclosed, or include payment of $40 for us to return it to you, be it within the US or overseas. If you give us enough time, lets say you plan to travel 4-6 weeks later, there is no need to rush it and regular mail will be fine. No $40 postage required.
If you intend to travel during your extended program and your J-1 visa has expired you will need to plan enough time for a return visit to the US consulate overseas. When making the appointment explain your situation. Follow any instructions the consulate gives you and be sure to take your passport, with your old J-1 visa stamp and the new DS-2019 form with you.
Travel to Canada and Mexico is much simpler, there is no need for the special Travel Authorization Signature.
Q. I want to travel outside of the US, during my grace period (see above) and then return to the US before flying home, can I do this?
A. In a word, NO (unless you have a separate tourist visa to the US that covers you after the date you intend to re-enter). Although participants are typically allowed a 30-day grace period at the end of their program, this is considered for tourism within the US. If you decide to leave the US at any time during that 30-day grace period, officials will consider your exit as signifying you have opted NOT to utilize any of that remaining period. If you still want to visit Mexico, our advice is to get all your US travel completed prior to departing the US, and then simply fly home from Mexico.
Q. I want to extend my program? How does that happen and when?
A. Firstly, you must maintain good performance evaluations. These are done by your supervisor and sent directly to OSU. If your evaluations are in order, we will consider your request. In many cases finding a suitable placement for the transfer/extension is difficult or even impossible, especially if the remaining time on your visa is just 2-3 months.