Frequently Asked Questions
We put together some Frequently Asked Questions together with answers.
You can also email us if you cannot find your answer here.before the program
during the program
Q. What type of training your Program has to offer?
A. All of our participants train in businesses related to agriculture. We offer internship placements in:
- general horticulture
- greenhouses ( tropical plants, annuals, vegetables, cut flowers )
- outdoor nurseries and garden centers
- animals ( dairy, swine, equine )
- mixed (grain and animals)
- agricultural machinery
Placements are limited. We place interns according to their desires based on 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-December to start training between December-May. This is the time when most placements are available. We strongly advise you to chose that period. If you do, you can expect placement much faster then during the May-August period. Good applications received 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 a training 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 some particular States. You are guaranteed to receive compensation for 40 hrs a week. It may happen that in the slow season that will be less 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/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 our program. Almost all participants buy the insurance directly from TOP, as it offers excellent value. If you wish, we can send 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 those bills. If you break it here it will be covered. 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 you a tax refund check about 2- 3 months after you submit your paperwork to them. You can expect to receive much 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.
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 regular, commercially rented apartment. In this case the rent may cost you more, but you can expect to be paid better. Before you agree to on 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 say enough how important the reference letters are. 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 or not. 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 and if you were hired on a farm or had an internship abroad already, better. Some students send to us letters of reference from their college. from teachers and professors. These are acceptable however recommendation from agricultural enterprises is 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). Only participants on the Trainee visa that are on TOP Management program can, in some cases, extend their stay to 18 months.
Q: I plan to leave and re-enter the US during my program. What do I need to do?
A: If you are traveling while your J-1 visa and your original visa stamp is valid, all you need to do is to send us a full copy of your flight itinerary with a good return address. If there is a rush on this, you will need to send this via special courier delivery (DHL, FedEx, TNT, Priority Mail) 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 needed.
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 you need an extended J-1 trainee visa stamp. Follow any instructions the consulate gives you and be sure to take your passport, with your old J-1 visa stamp and 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 really want to visit, say Mexico, our advice is to get all you US tourism and affairs completed prior to departing the US, and then simply fly home from that country.
Q. I want to extend my program? How does that happen and when?
A. Firstly, you have to maintain good performance evaluations. These are done by your supervisor and sent directly to us. 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.
1/19/2015 - We are working on the Cultivate (OFA) Program for you again. See some information in your orientation booklet and on this new page OFA Experience