2016 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students

IYLEP 2016

Funded by the US Embassy in Baghdad and implemented by Meridian International Center, this prestigious program is designed to provide talented, hard-working, and highly motivated Iraqi undergraduate students with an opportunity to spend four weeks studying at a US University on an intensive academic institute in the summer of 2016.

Please send any questions that you might have, in regards to the application to iylepundergraduate@gmail.com

About the Program

In summer 2016, Meridian International Center will implement the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), a series of summer exchange programs in the United States for Iraqi undergraduate students sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The program, which will occur between late June and August 2016, will give young Iraqis the chance to build their leadership skills and will give them the tools needed to develop their own youth-led projects for community change upon their return home.

The Undergraduate Program will bring 100 competitively selected Iraqi university students in their first, second, or third year of school to the United States for a leadership program within an American university setting. In addition to an opening conference in New York City, NY, and a closing conference in Washington, D.C., participants will take part in one of four Institutes at an American university. Participants apply to the Institute of most interest to them. Institute topics in 2016 are Public Policy; Entrepreneurship and Community Development; Information Technology and Media; and Leadership, Law, and Social Justice.

Program Timeline

Application due: December 1, 2015
Applications reviewed: December, 2015 - January, 2016
Semi-finalists selected for in-person interviews: January – February 2016
Finalists selected and notified: February-March 2016
Visa interviews in Baghdad or Erbil: March-April 2016
Program dates: Late June – August 2016

Application Process

Applications now closed

The Meridian IYLEP team, in coordination with our local consultants working across Iraq, has worked hard to advertise this program to students at universities across your country. It is our strong belief that a talented diverse pool of students will make for the best possible program, and it is our commitment to recruit students’ representative of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

We wish to be clear that selection for the IYLEP program will be done through an open and fair competition. In order to ensure no bias or special preference is given to any student based on background, political affiliation, or family connections, applications will be reviewed by at least two different reviewers in the United States. Applications will be reviewed on the following criteria:

  • Completeness of application in English, including copy of passport, proof of university enrollment, and letters of recommendation
  • Applicant's demonstrated knowledge, interest, and relevancy in relationship to the thematic topic selected
  • Demonstrated interest in and commitment to public service and volunteerism
  • Commitment to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and/or community after they return home
  • Leadership potential
  • Strong academic record
  • Written English proficiency

Highest ranking students by region will be notified in late January 2016 and be invited to an in-person interview. You will be interviewed by a panel that will rate you on the following criteria:

  • Oral English proficiency
  • Good social and communication skills
  • An energetic, positive attitude
  • Ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and tolerate the opinions of others

The Meridian team will then select the program finalists based on the best average scores of the written application and interview. Please understand: simply meeting all program criteria does NOT guarantee you a spot in the program, and all decisions by the review team are FINAL. Requests for reconsideration will not be possible. Unfortunately, due to the high demand of this program, we know some very talented students will not be chosen to participate this year, but they are encouraged to reapply in future years, and look for other leadership training opportunities in Iraq and abroad.


Students must meet ALL the following criteria to be eligible for the program:

  • Be a citizen and current resident of Iraq (Applicants with dual U.S. citizenship will not be considered).
  • Have an Iraqi G or A series passport valid through March 2017 by December 1, 2015
  • Be a current student in your 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of undergraduate academic studies at an Iraqi university/college (Students in their first year of an English language preparation program are not eligible).
  • Have at least one undergraduate semester or year to complete after returning from IYLEP Summer 2016.
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 24 by the time of the program in summer 2016.
  • Be proficient in the English language enough to actively participate in a college level academic program.
  • Be in good academic standing at an Iraqi university.

Students who can answer YES to any of the following questions are NOT eligible to apply:

  • Applicant has applied for permanent residency or refugee status in the United States
  • Applicant has been to the United States on a U.S. government-funded exchange program (including IYLEP (undergraduate or high school), MEPI, YES, Fulbright, SUSI, and others)
  • Applicant has immediate family members who are employees or contractors of the U.S. embassy or any U.S. government agency; and/or
  • Applicant has a sibling or parent permanently residing in the United States (it is ok to have relatives in the U.S. temporarily, such as for university study)

Frequently Asked Questions


If I have an S/M/N series passport; can I use this to travel to the U.S.?
No. The only passports valid for travel to the U.S. are the A and G series.

I don’t have an A or G passport; how can I get one?
You must locate your closest passport office in Iraq and contact them regarding the latest procedures for obtaining your passport.


I was on the high school IYLEP program and now I am a college student. Can I apply for the IYLEP undergraduate program this year?
No, unfortunately the U.S. Embassy does not allow past participants (alumni) to participate in IYLEP more than once.

For my field of study, I will spend more than 4 years in college before graduating; does the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year student rule apply to me also?

If I am in an English preparation program before I begin my academic program, can I apply for IYLEP?
No. Only students in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd academic year in their field of study at undergraduate university programs may apply.

Can siblings apply to the IYLEP?
Yes, siblings can apply to IYLEP, and will be considered for whichever institute they apply to.

I was selected as a finalist/alternate for IYLEP 2015, but was unable to participate; do I need to re-apply to be considered for IYLEP 2016?
Yes. Application procedures and requirements have changed since the 2015 application, therefore you are required to re-apply and not guaranteed acceptance.

I do not meet the age requirements for IYLEP, can I still apply?

Will my application be considered if I have a disability?
Yes, we encourage all eligible applicants to apply for this program. Having a disability does not disqualify you from being selected for the program. If you are selected to participate and have a disability, special accommodations will be made for you to attend your programmed activities.

I have already graduated from college with a degree; can I still apply to IYLEP?
No. IYLEP recruits only undergraduate students who are still enrolled in an Iraqi university.

After You Submit the Application

Will I receive confirmation that my application has been received?
Yes. You will receive a computer-generated email.

Will I receive notice whether or not I have been accepted to the program?
All applicants will be notified of their status in late January 2016.

How many students will be accepted into the IYLEP undergraduate program?
100 students will be selected as participants.

I originally applied to this theme, but now I want to change to a different theme; can I?
If it is before the application deadline, yes. After December 1st, you will only be considered for whichever theme you have on your application at the time of submission.

What if I am not accepted to IYLEP this year; can I apply again next year?
Yes, if you are still within the age and degree eligibility requirements.

Required Documents

I am having trouble obtaining proof of my current university enrollment. What can I do?
Email iylepundergraduate@gmail.com if you are having trouble obtaining your proof of enrollment.

Can I submit proof of my current university enrollment in Arabic?
Yes, the proof of university enrollment may be in Arabic, but the rest of your application must be in English.

Who can write my letters of recommendation?
All applicants MUST submit TWO letters of recommendation.
Letters of recommendation MUST BE FROM: professors, employers, or other individuals who know you in a professional or formal manner. It is important that the reference has a good understanding of your academic, leadership, and personal qualities. It is preferable that one letter is written by an individual in an academic setting (professor) and the other letter is written by an individual in a professional setting. However, it is completely acceptable to have both letters written by professors. Letters of Recommendation CANNOT BE FROM: Friends or family.

What is included

There is no application fee for applicants. The United States Government, in conjunction with its private partners, will pay for international transportation to and from the United States, orientations, program and visa fees and administration, site visits and seminars, lodging and meals, cultural activities, educational materials, accident and sickness insurance, and a modest amount of pocket money. Participants will reside in dormitories or other campus housing at their host institutions. Participants are responsible for expenses related to the application process (copying, mailing, photographs, interview travel, etc.), passport fees, and spending money for souvenirs and other items in the United States.

Project summary

2016 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students | August 2016
Number of Visitors: 100
Regions: Near East and North Africa
Countries: Iraq
Impact Areas: Youth Leadership Development
Program Areas: Global Leadership
Partners: Public Sector