FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (APPLICATION)

Top 10 Application FAQ

Can I apply before I graduate from undergrad?

Yes, if you will be graduating from an accredited university with a Bachelor’s degree by July 15th of the departure year, you are eligible to apply for the JET Program. Please bear in mind that your degree must be officially conferred by that date; simply completing all requirements for graduation is not sufficient.

When applying, you must also provide an official statement from your college or university stating that you are currently enrolled and your expected date of graduation. We will accept a statement or certificate of expected graduation from the registrar’s office, from a dean’s office,the National Student Clearinghouse, or an academic adviser.

NOTE: If the date listed is too vague to determine that you will graduate by July 15, 2019 (i.e. Summer 2019, etc.) it will not be accepted as adequate proof of expected date of graduation. It is the applicant’s responsibility to check that the date is correct.

Do I have to have a teaching certificate/TEFL/TESOL?

TESL/TEFL certification is not a requirement for participation on the JET Program but such certification will be an asset during the selection process.

Do I need official transcripts from all of my universities/colleges? Really?

Yes, you need to obtain official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. There is only 1 exception to this rule, and that is when your current institution’s transcript lists all of the following: the course title, date (e.g. semester/year), and number of credits received for all individual transfer courses.

If even one of these is missing from the transcript, you must obtain an official transcript from the transfer institution.

I’m an international student living in the US. Can I apply to the US JET Program?

No. You must apply to the JET Program via the country of your citizenship. Thus, only US citizens can apply for the US JET Program. You can check the JET Program’s list of participating countries here: http://jetprogramme.org/en/countries/.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Applicants to the JET Program in the U.S. must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Complete a Bachelor’s degree by July 15th of the departure year
  • Have native-level English speaking proficiency
  • Not have lived in Japan for a total of six years or longer in a 10-year period prior to the departure year

To see full descriptions of eligibility criteria, please go to Eligibility Criteria page.

What is the difference between the three medical forms in the application? Do I need all of them?

The JET Program application has three medical documents associated with it. Not every applicant has to submit all three, so read the following explanation carefully:

The Self-Report of Medical Conditions form is required for every applicant. On this form, you will disclose your medical history as well as any medications or other medical needs you may have.

The Statement of Physician form is only required in the following cases:

    If you are consulting a physician or other professional on more than one occasion regarding a physical/mental health issue
    If you are taking medication to alleviate a condition, illness or injury such that the prescription is re-filled on one or more occasions
    If you are undergoing hospitalization (including surgery) to alleviate a condition, illness or injury (not including dental surgery)
    If you answer yes to questions 1, 2a, 2b, or 3 as found on the Self-Report of Medical Conditions form.

The Certificate of Health form is the third and final health form associated with the JET Program application. Only those who are applying for Early Departure should prepare this form with their application. Unlike the other two health documents, this one must be given in hard-copy to your interview location.

What university majors are you looking for?

The JET Program welcomes all majors! We are always seeking well-rounded candidates who are flexible, open-minded, and enthusiastic about the goals of the Program: internationalization and people-to-people exchange.

If you would like to become a stronger candidate while still in university, we recommend seeking out opportunities that will evidence your interest in the above. For example, volunteering at a Japan-related interest group, tutoring international students, studying abroad, and gaining real-life work experience are all excellent ways to increase your standing as a candidate.

When can I apply?

A general timeline of the JET application cycle is available, though specific dates may vary from year to year. JET applications for U.S. citizens become available on the JET Program USA website in October the autumn before the departure year. The deadline for submission is in November. We strongly recommend that potential applicants follow our Facebook page or Twitter as we announce the most updated information using those platforms.

Where are JET Program interviews held?

The US JET Program has 19 offices across the United States which act as interview sites. Candidates are encouraged to choose whichever location is most accessible for them. Interviews for the US JET Program are not held outside the United States.

You must apply to the JET Program through the JET Program Office in your country of citizenship. Thus, only US citizens may apply for the US JET Program. For a list of JET Program offices worldwide, please see here: http://jetprogramme.org/en/countries/.

Who should I ask to write my letter of reference?

The JET Program has the following requirements for letters of reference:

References must fall into 1 of 2 categories: Academic or Professional

    Academic: Professors or academic advisers. Current students must have at least 1 academic reference whose letter mentions their expected date of graduation.
    Professional: Managers or supervisors who have overseen your work (excluding coworkers)

No personal references: classmates, coworkers, family/friends, and student tutors are not acceptable.

Beyond these criteria, who to choose as your letter of reference writer is one of your discretionary choices as an applicant. We recommend choosing writers who can speak positively about your skills and experience.

Eligibility

Can I apply before I graduate from undergrad?

Yes, if you will be graduating from an accredited university with a Bachelor’s degree by July 15th of the departure year, you are eligible to apply for the JET Program. Please bear in mind that your degree must be officially conferred by that date; simply completing all requirements for graduation is not sufficient.

When applying, you must also provide an official statement from your college or university stating that you are currently enrolled and your expected date of graduation. We will accept a statement or certificate of expected graduation from the registrar’s office, from a dean’s office,the National Student Clearinghouse, or an academic adviser.

NOTE: If the date listed is too vague to determine that you will graduate by July 15, 2019 (i.e. Summer 2019, etc.) it will not be accepted as adequate proof of expected date of graduation. It is the applicant’s responsibility to check that the date is correct.

Can I apply if I have dual citizenship?

Yes. However, dual citizens of the U.S. and Japan must renounce their Japanese citizenship before departing for Japan if accepted. Japanese law requires that individuals choose either Japanese nationality or their other nationality. To apply for the JET Program, you must prove that you have U.S. nationality, therefore it is not possible to also hold Japanese nationality as a JET participant.

If you have dual nationality with the United States and another country, this does not affect your eligibility for the JET Program, however, if you have nationality with another country that also participate on the JET Program (such as Canada, Australia, etc.) you can only apply through ONE of these countries.

I have a TEFL/TESL certificate / a lot of teaching experience, but not a Bachelor’s degree. Am I still eligible to apply?

No. Regardless of experience, an applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree by July 15 of the departure year in order to be eligible for the JET Program. Applicants must have the Bachelor’s degree either at the time of application OR expect to have one conferred prior to departure as outlined above.

I’m a U.S. resident, but not a citizen. Can I still apply through the U.S.?

No, to be considered eligible in the United States, you must have U.S. citizenship by the application deadline. Please contact the Embassy of Japan of your country of citizenship to learn more about applying for the JET Program. A list of countries currently participating on the JET Program is available at the JET Program international website.

Is a junior or associate’s degree sufficient to be eligible?

No. To be considered eligible for the JET Program in the United States, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university before July 15 of the departure year.

Will I still be considered if I have a criminal record?

Applicants should read the information on disqualification listed under the eligibility requirements page. Applications with criminal records will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It is important to honestly answer the questions regarding criminal history in the application and provide as full and detailed an explanation as possible. This includes any criminal history which occurred while the individual was a juvenile or which the individual believes to have been expunged from their record. The ruling law for the JET Program is Japanese law which requires full disclosure of all criminal history. Individuals with a criminal history will be required to provide an FBI background check (instructions for doing so are provided in the application).

U.S. Citizenship

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen in order to apply for the JET Program?

In order to apply through the Embassy of Japan in the United States, you must have U.S. citizenship. Also, U.S. citizens are only allowed to apply to the JET Program through the Embassy of Japan in the United States. Citizens of other countries should visit the JET Program international page and/or contact the Embassy of Japan in their home country.

Do I need to provide my original birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers? Will I get it back?

No. A photocopy of this document will suffice.

Is my social security card proof of citizenship?

No. Accepted proofs of citizenship include a photocopy of a birth certificate, a photocopy of your passport information page, or a photocopy of your naturalization papers.

My legal name does not match what I wrote on my application. Is this a problem?

Yes. You must apply using your current legal name. Do not apply using a nickname. If your current legal name does not match the name which is on your birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers, due to reasons such as marriage or legal name change, then you must submit additional proof, such as:

  • Photocopy of marriage certificate if your legal name changed because of marriage
  • Photocopy of legal name change paperwork if you legally changed your name

Physician's Form

How do I know if I need to complete a Physician’s Form and submit it with my application packet?

Applicants who list medical history in the Self-Report of Medical Conditions form should provide a Physician’s Form to clear them to live and work in Japan. A sample of the Self-Report of Medical Conditions form is available on the Required Documents page for your reference and to help you determine if you will need a Physician’s Form; however this sample form cannot be used for application purposes. The actual Self-Report of Medical Conditions form will print as part of the application form once you have completed it in the online application portal. We strongly recommend that applicants take the Self-Report of Medical Conditions form with them to the doctor’s appointment.

Having a medical condition will not disqualify the applicant from consideration, however, failure to provide the Physician’s Form if one is required may delay or disqualify the application at the initial screening. We strongly encourage all applicants with any medical history to plan ahead by making an appointment with your physician in mid-October, as the application timeline is October-November, and it is easier to cancel an appointment than to try to schedule one in a short amount of time.

Who can fill out the Physician’s Form?

Ideally, a doctor or mental health specialist with knowledge of your condition should fill out the Physician’s Form. This doctor cannot be a family member. A registered Nurse Practitioner can also complete the form. A Physician’s Assistant cannot sign off on the form unless it is co-signed by the practicing doctor.

Certificate of Health

Do I need to submit the Certificate of Health with the initial application?

Candidates who are applying for Early Placement consideration should submit a Certificate of Health by your interview day. If you are not requesting Early Placement, please do not submit the Certificate of Health at the time of application.

Who can fill out the Certificate of Health?

The Certificate of Health form should be completed by a doctor or a registered Nurse Practitioner with knowledge of your medical history. They should not be a family member. A Physician’s Assistant cannot sign off of the form unless it is co-signed by the practicing doctor.

Criminal History Check

Are electronic versions of background checks acceptable?

No. As per our Instructions, applicants must submit an un-opened, hard-copy background check. This is true regardless of whether you are submitting it because you applied for Early Departure or if you disclosed a criminal history on your application.

NOTE: Applicants who are not applying for Early Departure and who do not have criminal records should not order an FBI Background Check until they pass the interview stage. Your local Program Coordinator will then instruct you on how to obtain and submit it to them.

Do I need to submit the FBI background check with the initial application?

Only two types of applicants need to submit the FBI background check (also known as an Identity History Summary) :

  • Those who wish to apply for Early Placement and/or
  • Those who indicate a criminal history (having ever been arrested, charged or convicted of any crime, other than a minor traffic violations such as speeding or parking tickets, including incidents which occurred when the applicant was under 18 years of age or which the applicant believes to have been expunged from his/her record). Please note that regardless of U.S. federal or state policies regarding non-disclosure of past criminal history, this background check is for the purpose of employment in Japan, and all applicants are required to provide full disclosure.

If one or both of above applies to you, you must submit a result of FBI background check to your interview location before February 9th.

Please do not submit a background check with your application packet if you do not fall into either category unless instructed by the JET Program Office.

I know that all candidates who are selected after the interview stage must provide an FBI Criminal History Summary. What is the earliest I should request it?

After you have passed the initial screening stage of the selection process, your JET Program coordinator will provide specific instructions for submitting the FBI Criminal History Check. Unless you are reporting a criminal history or applying for Early Placement, please wait to request the FBI Criminal History Check until instructed to do so.

I’m currently living in Japan and possess a Residence Card. Do I still have to get a background check?

Yes. As JETs work in a variety of sensitive situations, such as at schools or in local government offices, we require a recent, cumulative background check. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Should I open my FBI Background Check when it arrives?

No. Do not open, remove, or otherwise tamper with the envelope your Background Check arrives in. You must provide it to your Interview Consulate in its original envelope or else it will be considered invalid.

The FBI website lists two options, should I get the background check directly from the FBI or can I use one of the FBI-approved channelers to complete my background check?

For the purposes of the JET Program application, either option is acceptable. Please note that some channelers will not issue FBI background check for the purpose of employment abroad. Be sure to call and confirm that they will provide a criminal history for overseas employment. Please also note that the processing times and fees are different for the FBI background check and the FBI-approved channelers. These fees are the responsibility of the applicant.

What if my criminal history background check doesn’t come by the application deadline?

Due to the processing time for the background check (approximately 12-16 weeks), the results are not due at the same time as the application. Background check results must be received by your interview location no later than February 9th, so please plan accordingly.

Applicants are solely responsible for sending the original application form, fingerprints, and payment for the background check to the FBI or FBI-approved channeler.

Early Placement applicants who do not have the results to the interview location by February 9th will be removed from Early Placement consideration but will be eligible for regular departure. Applicants with a criminal history who do not have results in time will be disqualified.

Where do I send the FBI background check?

If you are an applicant for Early Placement or with a criminal history, please direct the results to your home address. If selected for an interview, you must then forward the unopened envelope to your interview location to be received at that location by February 9th.

Furthermore, please be sure to indicate “Live, work, or travel in a foreign country” as the reason for request (as successful candidates will be contracted to work directly for a Japanese school, municipality, or prefectural government, rather than by the JET Program itself).

Transcript

Can I send transcripts separately?

It is very strongly preferred that applicants submit all documents through the online application portal. If your university registrar will not release official transcripts to students, you may have official transcripts sent directly to the JET Program Office at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. When received, they will be associated with the proper application. Please upload a PDF document to the transcript section of the portal explaining the circumstances.

Can I use a single copy of my transcript to fulfill multiple requirements? (i.e. as both a transcript and a proof of graduation)?

Yes. Please scan your official transcript and upload it to each applicable area of the JET Application in the online portal.

Do you accept e-transcripts?

The JET Program strongly prefers official hard-copy transcripts (i.e. provided by your university registrar and printed on security paper). The JET Program will accept secure electronic transcripts which are uploaded through the online application portal, however, it is important that the e-transcripts:

  1. will not expire or “lock” after a limited number of days or a limited number of views
  2. will not require JET staff to verify using any type of code or 3rd party website
  3. will not be sent to the JET Program Office’s email address

It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm that the e-transcripts from their school meet these requirements. If your e-transcripts do not meet one or more of the above requirements, they are not acceptable and you must provide official hard-copy transcripts.

Do you ever accept unofficial transcripts or screenshots of student portals in lieu of an official transcript?

No. Only official transcripts will be considered when we review your application. If no such document is uploaded to your online portal account by the deadline, your application will be considered incomplete.

I took college/university classes/AP/IB credit as a high school student. Do I need to provide the transcripts?

Credits earned through AP Exams or International Baccalaureate programs do not require additional proof.  College courses taken as a high school student do not need to be documented. However, please make sure that if these appear as transfer credit on your transcripts that it is clear that they were taken during your high school (e.g. showing a date prior to your stated high school graduation date).  If there is not a clear date on the credits earned in high school, they might be construed as transferred credit from a college and cause your application to be considered incomplete.

If I attended more than one college or university as a part-time student, do I still need to provide transcripts?

Yes. The JET Program requires documentation for all academic credit you received in your undergraduate career. Failure to provide transcripts from all college or university coursework will cause your application to be disqualified. However, photocopies are accepted in case of foreign institutions.

My official transcript from my current institution shows transfer credits from another institution. Do I need to get an official transcript from both schools?

You may use the academic transcript from your current university to show proof of coursework completed at a previous university if it has the following information for all transfer coursework:

  • Titles for each individual course
  • Date or semester/year the courses were taken
  • Name of the institution they were taken at
  • Number of credit hours received for each individual course

If one of these is missing, you must get an official transcript from the transfer institution.

My student portal page/online transcript show transferred credits, but the official transcript does not. Can I submit my unofficial transcript instead?

The JET Program application requires official transcripts. However, unofficial transcripts can be accepted if the applicant takes it to the registrar’s office and has it authenticated with the official embossed/inked stamp or seal/signature.

My transcript is in a sealed envelope that says it will not be official if removed. How should I scan and upload?

We are aware of this situation. Please ignore such warnings and remove the transcript from its envelope. Scan and upload the transcript to our online application portal as you would any other Required Document.

Proof of Graduation or Expected Graduation/Current Enrollment

I do not have a bachelor’s degree, but I have employment experience and/or an associate’s degree. Am I eligible for the JET Program?

No. Our guidelines are quite clear that an applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree conferred before s/he can be a participant on the JET Program.

I have not yet completed my bachelor’s degree, but I am in progress. Am I eligible to apply for the JET Program?

Yes. Many individuals apply in the fall of their final year.  In order to be eligible, you must complete your degree and have it conferred by July.  For Early Placement, you must complete your degree by April 1 of the year of departure.  At the time of application, you will be required to provide the JET Program Office with proof that shows you will graduate in this time frame.  If you provide a proof of expected graduation at the time of application, you will have to provide additional proof that you have actually graduated before you can depart for the JET Program.

My university will not provide a proof of expected graduation, but I can show proof of current enrollment and I will have enough credits to graduate. Can proof of enrollment suffice?

Yes. An official proof of enrollment from the registrar’s office or National Student Clearinghouse can be submitted.  Alternatively, if your recent transcript shows the classes you are enrolled in or “in progress” for the current semester at the time of application, this is considered sufficient proof of enrollment.  If you are currently enrolled but will not graduate in the required time frame, you will not be eligible, as you must have the degree completed.

What kinds of documents can be used as proof of expected graduation?

Proof of Expected Graduation is required for all applicants who are completing their Undergraduate degree (i.e. a Bachelor’s) at the time of application. We request this document as proof that you will graduate with your Bachelor’s by the July 15th, 2019 deadline.

Acceptable: A letter written on university letterhead from your university’s Office of the Registrar, dean’s office, or an academic adviser stating your name and expected date of graduation(month/year).

Not Acceptable: Degree audits, screenshots of student portals, unofficial transcripts, letters written by the applicant

Applicants who are completing Masters or PhD programs do not need to provide Proof of Expected Graduation. A scan of your Bachelor’s diploma and an official transcript from your current program will suffice.

The Statement of Purpose

My statement of purpose is more than two pages long, is that okay?

No. It must be no more than two pages long. You will need to copy and paste your essay into a text field in the online application portal to generate a standardized format. If your essay is more than two pages when pasted into the field, any additional pages beyond the second will not be reviewed.  It is your responsibility preview the essay and make sure that it fits within the required field.

What should I write about?

The Statement of Purpose should describe all of the following:

  • Why you wish to go to Japan and participate in the JET Program and why you are interested in the position for which you are applying (ALT or CIR).
  • What effect you hope to have on the Japanese community and internationally as a result of your participation in the JET Program.
  • What applicable experiences, professional skills, relevant interests and personal qualities you have, and how you feel these will be useful to you as an ALT or CIR.
  • What you hope to gain, both personally and professionally, from your JET experience if you are selected and how participation will assist you in your future goals.

The essay is a place to showcase your ability to follow instructions in the prompt, express yourself and your motivation for applying, and your use of English grammar and spelling.

Letters of Recommendation

Can I provide more than two letters of recommendation?

No. The online reference portal only allows for two requests to reference writers. If you request a letter and there is no response from the reference writer, the reference writer declines the request, or you want to change the person from whom you are requesting a letter, you can manage these issues in the online reference portal. You can delete a reference and send a request to a new writer or send a reminder to an unresponsive reference.

My reference writer wants to email me their letter of recommendation, is that okay?

No. At no time should any JET applicant view the letters of recommendation him/herself. If your reference writer cannot provide you with the letter as the instructions state (i.e. they are experiencing technical difficulties with uploading their letter to the online portal) and instead wishes to send it directly to the JET Program Office, please have him/her contact our office directly first by phone or email.

Should I open a letter of recommendation to upload to the portal?

No. Applicants should provide contact information for their reference writers in the online portal. The portal will send an email to the reference writer which will allow the reference writers to securely log in and provide confidential letters of recommendation. At no time should any applicant view the letters of recommendation him/herself. If your reference writer experiences technical difficulties with the portal, they should contact the technical support in the online portal or email the JET Program Office directly.

Who should I ask to write my letter of recommendation?

The JET Program has the following requirements for letters of reference:

  • References must fall into 1 of 2 categories: Academic or Professional
  • Academic: Professors or academic advisers
  • Professional: Managers or supervisors who have overseen your work
  • Current students must have at least 1 academic reference whose letter mentions their expected date of graduation
  • No personal references: classmates, coworkers, family/friends, and student tutors are not acceptable

Other than these criteria, who to choose as your letter of reference writer is one of your discretionary choices as an applicant. We recommend choosing writers who know you well and can speak positively about your skills and experience.

Why should my reference writers submit their letters of recommendation through the online portal, as opposed to mailing a hard copy?

Submitting through the online portal will automatically associate the letters of recommendation with the correct applicant account and allow our office to review your completed application documents easily. Some applicants have the same first and last name; to avoid confusion and a mix-up of letters of recommendation, letters should be submitted electronically through the online application portal.

Will you accept letters of recommendation in Japanese? In other languages?

The JET Program Office will accept letters of recommendation in either English or Japanese, though English is strongly preferred. The online application portal will accept Japanese characters in the body of the text-box for inputting the recommendation. The JET Program Office will not accept letters of recommendation in any language other than English or Japanese.

Study Abroad

I am having difficulty getting transcripts from the college/university where I studied abroad. What should I do?

Although a transcript is most preferred (photocopied if not original), we will also accept a letter from the registrar’s office at your school or a study abroad office certifying your study abroad experience. Failure to provide proof of the study abroad will not disqualify your application unless you received a degree from a foreign institution. In this case, you must provide official transcripts as required.

My transcript from my primary university shows that I studied abroad, but it only lists the number of credits received, is this sufficient?

If your proof of study abroad does not list all necessary information, your application will not be disqualified.  You can provide a letter from your registrar’s office or study abroad office to supplement the information in the transcript.

Should I list my study abroad experience under Education History or International/Intercultural Experience?

To be sure that it is not overlooked, it is better to list it in both places. Do not be afraid of redundancy in the application.

Teaching and TESL/TEFL Certification

Do I need to provide an original copy of my certification for proof of TESL/TEFL certification or teaching qualification? Will I get it back?

No. Uploading a scan of the original to the online application portal will suffice.

Do you accept CELTA/TESOL/etc.?

The proof of TESL/TEFL certification will be accepted from any reputable source. We do not have a preference for one certifying agency over another. Be sure that it lists the number of hours of training you have completed.

I do not have a teaching certification or TESL/TEFL. Am I still eligible to apply for the JET Program?

Although it is beneficial to your application, applicants are not required to have teaching experience or certification in order to participate on the JET Program. If you have this experience though, it is helpful to document it for the application.

Japanese Language Proficiency

Do I need to provide an original copy of my certification for proof of Japanese language ability? Will I get it back?

No. Uploading a scan of the original to the online application portal will suffice.

I have not studied Japanese and/or have not taken a Japanese language proficiency exam. Am I eligible for the JET Program?

ALTs are not required to have Japanese language proficiency at the time of application or in order to participate on the JET Program. For those who are selected to become JET Program participants, it is expected that those who do not have experience studying the Japanese language will prepare by studying Japanese prior to arriving in Japan. If you do have this experience, it is beneficial to note it in your application.

CIRs must have at least semi-advanced to advanced level Japanese proficiency in order to qualify for the position on the JET Program. Please carefully read the proficiency guidelines in order to determine your level. Proof of language proficiency is not required at the application stage, though if you have passed a proficiency exam such as the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) it is helpful to document it for the application. CIR applicants must honestly self-assess their ability in the semi-advanced to advanced level on the application to be considered. This ability will be tested at the interview stage of the selection process.