Please read through these frequently asked questions about the JET Program and specific sections on how to apply.

The 2019 JET Program application is now closed.


What’s the difference between the medical forms? 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.

How do I apply for the JET Program?

As of September 2018, the US JET Program has moved to an entirely online application. You can only open an account during our application season, which is usually late September to mid November. The online application portal can be found here:

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 for 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:

Is there an age limit for JET Program participants?

There is no age limit to apply for the JET Program. However, the JET Program was conceived as a youth to youth exchange program. If you understand the goals of the JET Program and have the ability to accomplish these goals, we warmly welcome you to apply.

What is ‘Proof of Expected Graduation’? Do I need it?

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.

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.

Where can I interview for the US JET Program?

Applicants are free to choose from any of our designated interview locations. You must appear in person at your chosen interview location, as there are no remote interviews. There is no advantage to choosing one location over another, so you should choose the most convenient option.

What’s the best way to contact the JET Office?

During open application season, all active applicants should direct their questions to us via the JET Inbox messaging service found within the online application portal. If you are not an active applicant, we kindly ask that you read our FAQ and website thoroughly and direct your question to us after the application season ends.

Who can write a letter of reference for me?

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 can speak positively about your skills and experience.

Are electronic FBI 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.


What does ‘paperless application’ mean?

‘Paperless application’ means that you do not have to send in ANY hard-copy documents to the Embassy of Japan in the US in order to apply for the US JET Program. Your application, including all of the Required Documents associated with it, should be completed in our online portal. You can find the application portal here.

I saw on another site that you require a mail-in application packet in addition to the online application. Is this true?

No. The US JET Program application has moved 100% online, so you do NOT need to send any hard-copy documents to the Embassy of Japan.

Are there any cases where I might need to send hard copies?

No. You should be able to scan the originals of your Required Documents and upload them to the portal. If you are experiencing a rare circumstance where obtaining the original of a Required Document is impossible, please contact us at as soon as possible.

What should I do with the originals of my Required Documents?

Keep them for your records. We also recommend printing out a copy of your completed Application Form for the same purpose. You can do this on the ‘Documents Checklist’ page inside the online portal. Note that this page will not be accessible after the application has closed.

What about the Certificate of Health and the FBI Background Check?

Read the relevant sections below for more details on how to handle these documents.


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

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.


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 with knowledge of your medical history. They cannot be a family member. If a Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant completes your form, it must be co-signed by the practicing doctor (M.D. or D.O.).


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 cumulative 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 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.

I currently live in Japan and possess a Residence Card. Do I still have to provide a FBI 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 the FBI Background Check when it arrives to my address?

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.

Are electronic FBI 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.


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 cannot be 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 to preview the essay and make sure that it fits within the required length.


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
  • Grade for course
  • Date or semester/year the courses were taken
  • Number of credit hours 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.

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.

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

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

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:

  • will not expire or “lock” after a limited number of days or a limited number of views
  • will not require JET staff to verify using any type of code or through an outside website
  • 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 scans of official hard-copy transcripts.

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.

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

We do not require additional proof for credits earned through AP Exams, International Baccalaureate programs, or college courses taken as a high school student. However, if these appear as transfer credits on your transcripts, please make it 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.

Note: Please do NOT write on your official transcripts, as this will invalidate them. Instead, please upload a separate document listing which courses were taken as high school credit rather than as transfer credits. Categorize this document as ‘Official 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.

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

Although a transcript is most preferred, 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 that case, you must provide official transcripts.

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

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


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?

You are eligible to apply if you will graduate before July 15th, 2019. However, if you wish to be considered for Early Placement, you must complete your degree by April 1, 2019. 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.


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?

No. Uploading a scan of your certificate 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 in order to participate on the JET Program. If you do have this experience, it is beneficial to note it on your application. It is expected that those successful applicants without Japanese language experience will prepare for their time in Japan by studying Japanese prior to departure.

CIRs must have at least semi-advanced to advanced level Japanese proficiency in order to qualify for 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?

No. Uploading a scan 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?

No. Uploading a scan 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

My passport is expired. Can I still use it as proof of citizenship?

No. If you choose to use a passport as your proof of US citizenship, it must be valid at the time of application. Additionally, if your passport is going to expire within the next calendar year, you may need to renew it before participating on the Program. More information about passport validity will be sent to successful applicants.


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.


Since the JET Program was founded in 1987, we have sent more than 61,000 global participants (including nearly 32,000 Americans) to work in schools, boards of education, and government offices throughout Japan.

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