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 YTILI Fellowship Program application is now closed.
Competition for the YTILI Fellowship Program is merit-based and open to young entrepreneurs and leaders in their home communities who meet the following criteria:
Applicants between the ages of 25 and 35 at the time of application.
Applicants who are citizens of the following countries: Albania, 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, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Applicants must be living and working in their country of citizenship.
Have at least two (2) years of experience at their current social or business venture.
Able to begin the YTILI entrepreneurship curriculum in November 2021 and their U.S. based experience in March – April 2022.
Are eligible and able to receive a U.S. J-1 Visa.
Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English at the time of application.
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.
Have not participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored or funded by the U.S. Department of State in the past five years.
Are not residing or working outside of Europe at the time of application.
YTILI Fellows are not allowed to bring dependents (including spouses and children) during the U.S. Fellowship, U.S. Conferences, and the Innovation Summit.
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, please visit www.exchanges.state.gov 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 to 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.
Following the Application Review stage, semi-finalists will be asked to submit a pre-recorded, asynchronous interview. This asynchronous interview will be evaluated by U.S. embassies, 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
January 4, 2021
YTILI application deadline
March 1, 2021 by 11:59 pm EST
Semi-finalists are selected and all applicants are notified
May 17, 2021
Semi-finalists' asynchronous interviews are due
May 31, 2021
Finalists and alternates are selected and all semi-finalists are notified
YTILI Fellows announced
Virtual entrepreneurship curriculum, led by DePaul University in Chicago, IL begins
YTILI Opening Conference in Chicago, IL
March 23 – 25, 2022
U.S. Fellowship and entrepreneurship training
March 28 – April 22, 2022
YTILI Closing Conference in Washington, D.C.
April 25 – 26, 2022
Virtual entrepreneurship curriculum, led by GEA College in Slovenia, begins
Innovation Summit in Ljubljana, Slovenia
September 12 – 14, 2022
Reciprocal Exchanges in various European countries
September 14 – 22, 2022
YTILI Application and Selection Frequently Asked Questions
It is preferred that you 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 portion of the YTILI Fellowship Program, you will need a J-1 Visa. This J-1 Visa will only be valid for the duration of the U.S. Fellowship dates of the YTILI 2021-2022 program, including the Opening and Closing Conferences. 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 last 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. If you are unable to return to your country of last permanent residence to fulfill the two-year requirement, you must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States. Please read through the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 Visa Common Questions here.
If you have participated in a U.S. Department of State funded program in the last five years, you are ineligible to participate as a YTILI Fellow. 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.
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 January 4, 2021 through March 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST. Applications will be reviewed for technical eligibility on a rolling basis and then further evaluated through Spring 2021. Semi-Finalists will be selected and notified of next steps in May 2021. If you are not selected as a Semi-Finalist, you will be notified in May 2021. Finalists will be selected and notified of next steps in August 2021 and if you are not selected as a finalist, you will be notified in August 2021.
Yes, all applications must be completed in English, including: the submitted application, the attached CV, and the asynchronous interview, if applicable.
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, a U.S. Fellowship, and an Innovation Summit. The virtual Entrepreneurship Curriculum will begin November 2021 and end in September 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. Fellowship, one or more per month. Workshops and classes will also be embedded as part of the U.S. Fellowship experience. The U.S. Fellowship experience will be from March 22, 2022 – April 27, 2022, which includes Opening and Closing Conferences and a fellowship placement. Fellows will also attend an Innovation Summit from September 12-14, 2022 and participate in reciprocal exchanges from September 14, 2022 – September 22, 2022.
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 Conferences and their fellowship experience in the United States. Selected fellows must be available to participate in the virtual Mini MBA curriculum before, during, and after the U.S. Fellowship experience.
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