YTILI Fellows should be passionate about his or her business or social ventures and driving innovative and positive change in their home communities. We encourage you to apply if you would like to gain professional experience, develop transatlantic relationships, and scale your business or social venture at home.
The 2022 YTILI Fellowship Application is now closed.
Please note that if safe travel is not possible at the time of the YTILI Fellowship, this program will be conducted virtually.
Candidates will be considered without respect to race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, national origin, disability or any other protected characteristic as established by U.S. law. Applicants with disabilities are eligible and encouraged to apply for the YTILI Fellowship Program. The YTILI Fellowship Program is open to young entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria:
Are between the ages of 25 and 35 by March 15, 2022 when the application closes.
Are a citizen and resident of one of the following countries: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Be a citizen and resident of the eligible country for which the applicant is applying (Note: Citizens of eligible countries residing in a different eligible country due to specific geo-political reasons may apply and will be considered by the Department of State on a case-by-case basis).
Business or social entrepreneur with a demonstrated track record of at least two years of experience successfully managing an entrepreneurial venture in their home countries.
Demonstrated commitment to develop, enhance, or lead an existing venture. During the application process, successful candidates must provide a well-articulated action plan they will work to refine and for which they will seek support during their fellowships.
Committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Are eligible and able to receive a U.S. J-1 Visa.
Demonstrated proficiency in both written and oral English.
Are committed to returning to his or her home country after completion of the program.
Are not a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident of the United States or have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years.
Are not a U.S. government employee.
Preference will be given to candidates who have not previously participated in U.S. Government programs or spent significant amounts of time in the United States.
YTILI Fellows are not allowed to bring dependents (including spouses and children) during the U.S. Fellowship and U.S. Conferences.
The U.S. Department of State and WorldChicago reserve the right to verify the information included in the application. If there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible. If you do not meet the technical eligibility requirements for this program, we invite you to visit www.exchanges.state.gov or your home country's U.S. Embassy website for information on other U.S. Department of State exchange opportunities.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State strives to ensure that its efforts reflect the diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad. The Bureau seeks and encourages the involvement of people from traditionally underrepresented audiences in all its grants, programs and other activities and in its workforce and workplace. Opportunities are open to people regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Bureau is committed to fairness, equity, and inclusion.
The purpose of the application is to better understand applicants' qualifications for the YTILI Fellowship Program. The application has four main sections outlined below. More detailed application instructions can be found on the application during the open application period.
The purpose of this section is to collect general information to confirm certain eligibility criteria.
Short Answer Questions
The purpose of this section is to highlight the applicant's experience and leadership potential for the YTILI Fellowship Program.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this section is to evaluate the applicant's personal and professional goals and the potential impact on their home communities and the YTILI network.
CV Attachment & Reference Letter
The purpose of this section is to emphasize the applicant's qualifications and experience.
Throughout the process, applicants will be evaluated based on their leadership abilities, community impact and engagement qualities, clarity of program goals and objectives, program and cultural preparedness, innovative mindset, entrepreneurial background, and potential for community impact after the program. There are four stages of the YTILI Fellowship Program selection process. The stages are as follows:
All applicants will be initially reviewed based on technical eligibility.
If ruled technically eligible, applicants will then move onto the Application Review stage. The U.S. Department of State, WorldChicago, and a panel of experts will evaluate the completed applications.
Semi-finalists will be invited to participate in a virtual interview with U.S. embassies representatives, the U.S. Department of State, and WorldChicago.
The U.S. Department of State and WorldChicago will then select approximately 60 participants and a list of alternates. Finalists and alternates will be notified.
Selection Process and Activity Timeline
YTILI application release
February 1, 2022
YTILI application deadline
March 21, 2022, by 11:59 pm EST
(Extended deadline 3/21/2022)
Semi-finalists are selected and interviews scheduled
June - July 2022
Finalists and alternates selected/announced
2022 YTILI Fellows announced
Virtual entrepreneurship curriculum, led by DePaul University in Chicago, IL begins
2022 YTILI Opening Conference in Chicago, IL
Early Spring 2023
U.S. Fellowship experience
Early Spring 2023
YTILI Closing Conference in Washington, D.C.
Virtual entrepreneurship curriculum, led by GEA College in Slovenia, begins
Reciprocal Exchanges in various European countries
YTILI Application and Selection Frequently Asked Questions
You must have been working in your current social or business venture through which you are applying for two years.
The YTILI Fellowship Program is an exchange visitor program funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported in its implementation by WorldChicago. In order to arrive in the U.S. for the U.S. based experience portion of the YTILI Fellowship, you will need a J-1 Visa. This J-1 Visa will only be valid for the duration of the U.S. based experience dates of the YTILI 2022 program. As the YTILI program is funded by the United States government, you will be subject to the two-year home-country foreign residency requirement. You must return to your country of permanent residence for at least two years, cumulatively, at the end of your exchange visitor program. You are not prohibited from traveling to the United States or conducting business in the United States but may not benefit from certain employment-based or family-based visas until the foreign residency requirement is satisfied. Please read through the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 Visa Common Questions here.
When you agree to participate in the YTILI Fellowship Program, you will be issued a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Visa that will cover the duration your U.S. based experience of the fellowship. If you already have a valid J-1 Visa for another program, you will not be able to participate in the YTILI program as you cannot have two valid J-1 Visas at the same time. Having another class of visa for the U.S., such as a B1 or B2 Tourist visa does not conflict with obtaining a J-1 Visa for the YTILI program. Preference is given to candidates who have not participated in a U.S. Department of State funded program in recent years.
Yes, previous applicants are able to apply again so long as they meet the eligibility requirements for the current iteration of the program.
The application window is open from February 1, 2022, through March 15, 2022, at 11:59 PM EST. Applications will be reviewed for technical eligibility on a rolling basis and then further evaluated through Spring 2022. Semi-Finalists will be selected and notified of next steps in Summer 2022.
Yes, all applications must be completed in English, including: the submitted application, the attached CV, and the interview.
You are not required to use a specific CV format.
Yes, you can still complete the initial application. If you advance as a Semi-Finalist, then you may be asked to provide more specific details on your past travel to the U.S.
WorldChicago and the U.S. Department of State do not require written permission from employers to apply for the program; however, it is expected that selected fellows proactively communicate with employers, complete any due diligence, and meet any obligations that may require employer notification.
Fellows will be required to participate in a virtual entrepreneurship curriculum and U.S. fellowship experience. The virtual Entrepreneurship course will begin Winter 2022 and include synchronous and asynchronous sessions lasting 60-120 minutes each. There will be three to four sessions before and after the U.S.-based fellowship experience. Workshops and classes will also be embedded as part of the U.S.-based experience. The U.S. experience will be in early Spring 2023, which includes opening and closing summits and a four-week fellowship placement. Select Fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in reciprocal exchanges.
If you are selected as a YTILI Fellow, you are not able to defer your participation to another fellowship year. All selected fellows must be available to travel and participate in all fellowship activities, including the Opening and Closing Summits and their fellowship experience in the United States. Selected fellows must be available to participate in the virtual Entrepreneurship curriculum before, during, and after the U.S.-based experience.
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