FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
You’ve got questions? We have answers! Below are answers to our most frequently asked questions. Take a few minutes and read through the below questions. If you still have questions, please send us an email or give us a call.
TOP 10 FAQ
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.
When are the departure dates for the JET Program?
Applicants selected for Early Placement may depart any time between mid-April and mid-July of the departure year.
Main departure groups depart in late-July (Group A) or early-August (Group B). Dates may vary from one year to another.
Group A: New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles(Phoenix*), Seattle, Denver(Salt Lake City*)
*Interview location only
Group B: Washington DC, Nashville, San Francisco, Portland, Anchorage, Honolulu, Hagatna, Miami, Detroit
Do I need to know Japanese to be eligible?
Applicants for the ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) position are not required to have prior knowledge of the Japanese language, although it is beneficial and highly recommended to have some speaking ability before going to Japan.
Those applying for the CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) position must have at least a semi-advanced to advanced level of Japanese proficiency. CIR duties usually involve translation and interpretation of official government communication, so as a benchmark applicants should have approximately JLPT level N2 or above Japanese proficiency in order to be considered eligible.
Do I have to have 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.
Where will I be placed?
The goal of the JET Program is to enhance internationalization in local communities in Japan, and there is a relatively low demand for JET participants by urban local authorities. Few JET participants are therefore placed in large cities. The majority of JET participants are placed in small to medium sized cities or in small towns and villages.
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 kind of applicants are you looking for?
JET recruits participants from a variety of cultural, personal, and academic backgrounds. Applicants who demonstrate a background in Japanese studies or in TEFL/TESL may have an advantage in the application process; over and above these qualifications, JET seeks flexible, open-minded, and enthusiastic young people with a genuine interest in Japan, English education, and intercultural exchange.
What are my chances of being selected for JET?
The JET Program application is a competitive process. Several thousand applications are received each year, about half of all applications will be invited to interview, and then only the top candidates are selected for participation. General statistics about JETs currently in Japan can be found here.
I’m a U.S. citizen currently living overseas. Can I still apply for the JET Program?
Yes. U.S. citizens living abroad are welcome to apply, but you should consider the following items when preparing to apply:
- All application documents must be received at the JET Program Office in Washington, D.C. no later than the application deadline. Exceptions unfortunately cannot be made for applicants living abroad.
- All interviews are conducted in-person at designated interview locations in the U.S. without exception. Applicants are welcome to choose the most convenient location for them, but remote interviews will not be conducted.
Is there an age limit?
There is no age limit to apply to participate on the JET Program. However, you should understand that 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, please feel free to apply.
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.
Can I apply before I’ve finished my degree?
Yes. You are eligible to apply if you will graduate from an accredited university with a Bachelor’s degree by July 15th of the departure year. Please bear in mind that your degree must be officially conferred by that date; it is not enough to have simply completed classes by the date.
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.
Can I apply before I graduate?
Yes, if you will be graduating from an accredited university with a Bachelor’s degree by July 15 of the departure year, you are eligible to apply for the JET Program. With your application, you must also provide an official statement from your college or university that you are currently enrolled and the date that you are expected to graduate.
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 academic advisor.
NOTE: if the date listed is too vague to determine that you will graduate by July 15, 2017 (i.e. Summer 2017, etc.) it will not be accepted as adequate proof of expected date of graduation. It is the applicants 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.
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).
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.
INFORMATION SESSIONS & CAREER FAIRS
Will a JET Program representative be coming to my school this year?
JET Program representatives visit many career fairs and Japan-related events around the country. Recruiting sessions hosted by a JET Program coordinator or alumnus take place on university campuses in September-October. On-campus information sessions are also held to provide interested applicants with a more in-depth introduction to JET as well as an opportunity to ask questions.
You can visit the JET Program Calendar for a view of the events around the country or contact your local JET Program Officeto find out if they will be visiting your area. You can also find out more by liking the JET Program on Facebook or following us on Twitter.
HOW TO APPLY
Where can I pick up a copy of the application?
All information and application materials are available online. Please see the information on the How to Apply page for detailed instructions on application procedures and requirements.
Can I apply for both the CIR and ALT positions?
No. You can only apply for one at a time, not both concurrently. Please do not submit more than one application.
Can I apply any other time of the year than fall?
No. JET applications are only available in the fall and there is only one application cycle every year. The only exception to this is application for SEA positions (if available), which are posted in February and due in the spring.
I was unsuccessful last year but want to apply again. What should I change to increase my chances?
Applications that are incomplete (i.e. missing required documentation) cannot be reviewed, and each year a number of applications are disqualified for this reason.
Other than ensuring that your application is complete, tips to strengthen your application includes:
- Demonstrating Japanese study (by formal study, taking the JLPT, etc.)
- Gain teaching/tutoring experience
- Broaden involvement in volunteer activities
INTERVIEWS AND NOTIFICATION
Can I change my interview location?
No. Once you have submitted your application, your interview location cannot be changed.
I can’t interview in January or February. Can’t I do it by phone or in another month?
No. Interviews must take place in person at the location you indicated on the application during the designated interview days for that location. If you are not able to interview during this time, your application will be removed from consideration.
When will I find out if I got an interview?
Interview notifications are typically sent to applicants in early January. Applicants will be contacted directly by the JET Program coordinator at their interview location. The interviews themselves typically take place in late January or early February. Exact dates are determined by the interview location based on availability of venues, interviewers, etc.
Can I defer my acceptance until another year?
No. All decisions are relevant for the current application year only. Please notify your JET Program coordinator as soon as possible that if you find that you are no longer able to participate. Applicants must reapply to participate in the following year.
Can I request where I want to go?
Yes. Applicants may request up to three (3) locations on the application. However, while these placement requests will be taken into consideration, we cannot guarantee they will be met. Married and engaged couples may be given priority in their placement requests, but even in those cases where the couple is requesting to be placed with or near one another, it is possible that their assigned contracting organizations may be distant from one another. Couples should discuss and prepare for this possibility.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING
Will there be additional orientations/training once we reach Japan?
Besides the pre-departure orientation, the Embassy and Consulates General host their own trainings, such as workshops or Q&A sessions presented by local JET alumni for new JET Program participants in the summer before departure.
After departure, all new JET participants will attend Tokyo Orientation before traveling to their placements. Prefectural JET associations will typically host an orientation for new JETs shortly after their arrival, and they may also organize a skills development conference for all JETs in that prefecture later in the year.
Can I interview in one city but leave from another?
Yes. However, applicants can only move to a different city within the same departure group. JETs depart from cities designated as Group A or Group B. A full list of departure locations for U.S. applicants is listed here: https://jetprogramusa.org/interview-departure-locations/
Additionally, individuals who have a residence status in Japan other than temporary visitor can choose to depart directly from their home in Japan to Tokyo Orientation. Please note that this is an option for departure only, there are no interviews for U.S. applicants in Japan.
Do I have to buy my own plane tickets?
No. Transportation to/from Japan will be covered by your contracting organization. JET Program participants are responsible for the cost associated with transportation to the designated airport.
LIFE IN JAPAN
How much money should I plan to bring with me?
We strongly recommend JETs bring (or have access to) at least $2,500-$3,000 with them for start-up costs, including set up of their apartment, utilities, and services like cell phones, internet, etc. JETs typically will not receive their first paychecks until the end of the first month, so they should plan to have enough money for basic necessities, including for food and potentially apartment deposits and rent.
Can I work at another job while employed with the JET Program?
No. JET participants are only allowed to work for their contracting organizations. Violation of this policy could result in termination of the JET’s contract and deportation.
Can I bring my family to Japan with me?
Legal spouses as recognized by Japan and children under the age of 18 may accompany JETs on a general dependent visa, which is valid for 3 years (it may be renewed if the JET re-contracts beyond a third year). Spouses and children must travel to Japan within 3 months of the dependent visa’s issuance. Please note that those on a dependent visa are not eligible to work unless they apply to a local immigration office.
Can I bring a pet to Japan with me?
Because Japan has very strict quarantine laws, we strongly discourage bringing pets. The initial on-boarding process is overscheduled and does not provide JETs with the time necessary to take care of legal issues involved with importing an animal into Japan.
What is JET housing like?
Contracting organizations generally assist with housing for JETs, but the quality and cost can vary significantly depending on the location. Many new JETs “inherit housing” and sometimes are given or sold furniture from their predecessors. Once placement decisions have been made, current JETs and/or contracting organizations will usually contact new JETs and can provide more detailed information on living situations and any upfront expenses to expect.
Can I stay in Japan after I finish my appointment?
Yes. Depending on their intended purpose, a JET alumnus may remain in Japan after finishing their appointments. See the Immigration Bureau of Japan for additional information about restrictions.
To receive proof of JET Program employment, visit the Japan Local Government Center website’s page on JET Certificate of Participation.
I was a JET previously. When can I reapply?
JET alumni are eligible to apply to return to Japan providing that they meet the following conditions:
- They must have finished their appointment three or more years prior to the departure year
- They must not have lived in Japan for six years or longer in a 10-year period prior to the departure year
- They did not withdraw from the JET Program after receiving placement in the year prior to the departure year