Please read through these frequently asked questions about the JET Program and specific sections on how to apply.
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
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.
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).
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.
THE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
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.
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.
If transferred schools and my credits from my first school transferred to my current university, do I still need to provide transcripts for the first school?
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
• Number of credit hours received for each individual course
• Grades received for each individual course
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 transcript is in a sealed envelope that says it will not be official if removed. How should I scan and upload?
For the purposes of our the JET Program application, please remove the transcript from its envelope to scan and upload the transcript to our online application portal. You must then mail the transcript to the JET Program Office with your application package and you may use the one which you have already opened.
If my transcript fulfills multiple requirements, (i.e. shows my classes, lists my study abroad information, and the date my degree was conferred), do I need to provide multiple sets of the same transcript to fulfill the transcript requirement and the proof of graduation requirement?
No. Please submit only one transcript from a school to serve the place of multiple requirements. We do recommend that if this is the case you attach a sticky note to the transcript to indicate the different areas. Do not write on the transcript.
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 school prefers to send online/email transcripts. Will this satisfy the JET Program application requirement?
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 through an outside website; and 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.
If you will submit an e-transcript through the application portal, please be sure to print out a copy for inclusion with your application package. The JET Program will still accept this printed copy even if it the paper shows “Void” or “Copy” when printed
Can I send transcripts separately?
It is very strongly preferred that all applicants submit complete applications in order to minimize processing time and reduce the risk of application materials becoming lost or misplaced. 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. They will be held on file here until they can be united with your application packet. Due to the volume of materials being received during the application period, we recommend that you include your transcripts in your application document set.
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.
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.
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.
PROOF OF GRADUATION OR OF 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.
TEACHING and TESL/TEFL CERTIFICATION
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.
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.
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. A photocopy of your certificate will suffice.
JAPANESE LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY
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.
Do I need to provide an original copy of my certification for proof of Japanese language ability? Will I get it back?
No. A photocopy of this document will suffice.
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.
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.
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.
My legal name does not match what I wrote on my application. Is this a problem?
Yes, it is a problem. 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
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Who should I ask to write my letter of recommendation?
Applicants must provide two references, either academic or professional. An academic reference is a professor or advisor from your college or university. A professional reference is a manager or supervisor who has overseen your work and can comment on your skills. Do not provide a personal (non-academic/non-professional) reference, or a reference from friends, family members, or students.
It is recommended that applicants request a reference from someone who is more familiar with their work or studies, rather than an individual with an impressive title who can only provide a generic letter.
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.
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.
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.
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.