Toronto's Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The following responses to frequently asked questions are provided for the convenience of Toronto JET candidates for the 2009-2010 JET Programme cycle, and are revised and updated periodically.

The JET Progamme in Perspective

What is the JET Programme?
The JET Programme is an exceptional opportunity. One of the largest exchange programmes in the world, in the 23 years since its inception it has gained a reputation for excellence in its efforts to promote mutual understanding between Japan and other nations, and to foster ties between Japanese youth and foreign youth through foreign language education and international exchange activities. It has grown exponentially from its original 848 participants from four countries in 1987, to include over 4,436 participants from 36 countries in 2009.
Who administers it?
The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) administers the JET Programme in cooperation with local government organizations; the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC); the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA); and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
What do JET participants do?
Canadian JET participants may work as either an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) providing language instruction in elementary, junior and senior high schools; or as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) assisting communities with international exchange activities.
How long are JET contracts, and what benefits do they include?
Contracts are for one year, commencing the day after arrival in Japan. In principle they may be extended twice (three years). Also, if after careful consideration by the Contracting Organization, the JET’s work performance, level of experience and ability to be of an exceptionally high standard, they may choose to re-contract the participant an additional two times (altogether, five years). Salary and benefits include: 3,600,000 yen per annum (after Japanese income and inhabitant taxes); return travel expenses; government health insurance; employee pension insurance; employment insurance and JET Progamme accident insurance. JET participants generally work Monday to Friday, 35 hours per week, during regular school/office hours.
Where do JET participants work and live?
Participants are placed with local authorities throughout Japan in every imaginable locality including large cities, small and medium sized towns, and rural farming and fishing villages. The majority live in their own apartments, found with the assistance of their employer. Costs of accommodation vary significantly, and while some JETs receive subsidies or assistance paying deposit fees, all JETs should be prepared to pay for their expenses out of their monthly earnings.
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Is the JET Programme right for me?

I have a medical condition. Will that prevent me from being accepted?
All applicants are judged on their individual merits. Provided that your physician believes you are fit to participate, your medical condition should not in itself preclude you from participating.
Will my race, gender or religion affect my candidacy?
No. As above, all applicants are judged on their individual merits and equally considered.
I am a single parent. Is it possible to bring children to Japan when working for the JET Programme?
Yes. The Japanese government is happy to arrange visas for JET participants' dependents, and children are generally welcomed in Japanese schools. Please be aware, however, that all related financial responsibilities for flights, living and childcare will be your own responsibility.
I have been in the workforce for a few years and am older than many new graduates. Is there an age limit?
As the JET Programme is considered a youth exchange initiative, an upper age limit of 39 has been set for application eligibility purposes. However, it is still possible for qualified graduates to submit an application for consideration if you are in your early forties.
I would like to live in urban Japan. Will I be able to choose where I will be placed?
On your application you can request to be placed in a specific region and/or city, or in a rural, semi-urban or urban placement. Prior to submitting your application we recommend that you research Japan and regions of interest, and substantiate your placement requests with specific explanations. While placement requests made on your application are considered, they are not guaranteed, and those made at a later date will not be considered. As Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are very popular requests, your chance of being placed in these cities is minimal. Rest assured that there are many other large and fascinating cities, and that smaller semi-urban and rural areas of Japan offer an equally authentic and often slower-paced, more involved experience of Japan.
Will my salary be adequate to meet the high costs of living in Japan?
In most cases it will more than adequately cover normal living costs.
Will I be placed with my friend/partner/fiancé/spouse?
Though we take every effort to honour placement requests indicated on your application, these requests cannot be guaranteed.
When will I depart for Japan? If I cannot depart on that date, can another date be arranged?
The departure date is clearly outlined on the application form. If you accept a position on the JET Progamme, you must be prepared to travel from Canada in Group B, on July 31st, 2011. These change slightly each year, but always fall in late July or early August.
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Am I right for the JET Programme?

Do I require particular academic experience to be eligible for the JET Programme?
Canadian applicants must hold at least a Bachelors' degree from an accredited institution, or obtain one by July 24th, 2011. (If your degree is to be conferred in the fall of 2011, you must wait and apply to the 2012 -2013 programme.) A copy of your actual degree diploma must be submitted as proof of graduation.
I can't (yet) speak Japanese. Will this be a barrier to getting accepted?
While an interest in learning Japanese is an advantage when applying to the JET Programme, formal qualifications are not required for the ALT position. If accepted, you will be required to study Japanese prior to departure and while in Japan. However, fluent Japanese ability is required for the CIR position.
I have lived in Japan in the past. Can I still apply?
If you have not lived in Japan for six or more years in total since 2001 (up to and including November 30th, 2010) you may apply.
What if I am not a Canadian citizen?
You cannot apply for the JET Programme in Canada unless you are a Canadian citizen. If you are not a Canadian citizen you may be eligible to apply through your home country. Visit the JET Programme Official Website for information on the countries currently participating on the JET Programme.
I previously applied for the JET Programme and was accepted, but withdrew. Can I apply again?
If you withdrew prior to notification of placement, you may re-apply any year you wish. If you withdrew after notification of placement, you are ineligible to apply for the following JET Programme year. Special humanitarian conditions may be considered, if you fall under the latter category, on an individual basis.
I have already participated in the JET Programme. Can I apply again?
You can re-apply to the JET Programme if you have not participated since 2008 or have spent more than five years in total as a programme participant.
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How Do I Apply?

Where & when can I get an application?
The application form for Canadian citizens is available for download on the JET Programme Canadian Homepage, or in hardcopy from the Embassy of Japan and Consulates General of Japan in Canada - including the Japan Information Centre in Toronto - from October to November each year.
What is the application deadline?
Mail or hand-deliver your application to the Embassy of Japan. The application deadline for the 2011-2012 JET Programme is November 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm. Applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, November 30, 2010.
Can I apply from outside of Canada?
If you are a Canadian citizen and fulfill all other eligibility criteria, you may submit your application to the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa by post, from outside of Canada.
Can I attend an interview outside of Canada?
All Canadian applicants must attend an interview within Canada, without exception. On your application you may select the Embassy or the Consulate General of Japan in Canada that is most convenient for you.
Who should I ask to provide my references?
References must come from academic or professional supervisors that are able to assess your suitability for the JET Programme, including your abilities in teaching, public speaking, leadership, working under pressure and working in a group.
If you have not already graduated with a bachelor's degree, at least one of your references must be written on official university letterhead by someone related to your graduating university, and must contain reference to your expected graduation date. If you have been in the workforce for some time and find it difficult to obtain an academic reference, you may provide two professional references. References from colleagues, friends or family members are not acceptable.
Should I open my transcripts and reference letters to make the necessary copies?
You can and should open your transcripts to make copies, but you cannot and should not open your reference letters, for any reason. Opened reference letters will not be read.
The JET application asks for my employment history. Should I just attach my resume?
No. Your resume will not be considered. Please complete the application provided, as instructed.
Can I submit required documents separately from my application?
In principle, you cannot, but if the application deadline is approaching and you are still awaiting supporting documents, please contact the Embassy or a Consulate General of Japan in Canada to discuss your situation.
I missed the deadline. Is there anything I can do?
In the time period between now and the next application cycle you may wish to familiarize yourself with the JET Programme and its objectives by reading available on-line information, attending university or public information sessions organized through the Embassy of Japan and Consulates General of Japan in Canada, or contacting the same offices directly.
Successful JET applicants generally have interest and/or experience in Japan and Japanese language, Canadian and international issues, teaching, learning, cross-cultural and language exchange. Before the next application cycle you may wish to explore these areas through informal, volunteer or work opportunities.
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What is the selection process?

When can I expect to receive notification of my status as a JET applicant?
By late January you will receive notification from the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa, indicating whether or not you are invited to attend an interview. If you are invited to an interview and you selected Toronto as your interview location, by early February you will receive notification from the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto, indicating your interview time and date. By the middle of April you will receive notification from the same office, indicating the outcome of your interview.
How will JET officials contact me?
We will send all official correspondence by mail to the "current mailing address" indicated by you on your application form. For this reason it is vital that you keep us informed of any changes to your contact information. In some cases JET officials may also contact you directly by phone or e-mail. If this happens please assume correspondence is urgent and return messages as quickly as possible.
Who conducts JET interviews?
Interviews are conducted by panels of individuals with expertise in education, business, culture, international diplomacy and the JET Programme. All panelists assess JET candidates according to strict guidelines that help to ensure consistency in the quality of JET Programme participants.
What are the odds of getting accepted?
JET participants are selected on a qualitative - rather than quota - basis. For this reason we do not offer statistical odds, and the number of participants sent to Japan from Canada vary from year to year.
If I pass the interview, what can I expect to happen next?
'Final' and 'Alternate' candidates that successfully pass the interview stage will be required to confirm their intention to continue candidacy by returning a reply form, included with their notification letter. Those that do so by the date specified will be considered for employment and placement. Candidates that choose to withdraw at this stage remain eligible to re-apply the following year.
The Consulate will assume that 'Final' or 'Alternate' candidates that do not confirm their intention to continue candidacy by the date specified have chosen to decline their offer to participate on the JET Programme.
'Final' Candidates:
'Final' candidates that indicate their intention to continue candidacy on their reply form by the date specified will be informed of final selection results and notified of their offer of employment and placement by the Consulate, in May. In some cases, a contracting organisation or current JET participant may contact a candidate before the Consulate has information regarding the contracting organisation.
Successful 'Final' candidates (JET Participants) that withdraw from the JET Programme after receiving notification of employment and placement are not eligible to re-apply during the following contract year.
'Alternate' Candidates:
'Alternate' candidates that indicate their intention to continue candidacy on their reply form by the date specified will be notified of their promotion to 'Final' candidate status on an ongoing basis. Upon promotion, 'Alternate' candidates are required to confirm their intention to continue their candidacy.
'Alternate' candidates that choose to withdraw their candidacy from the JET Programme at the time of promotion remain eligible to re-apply during the following contract year.
Promoted 'Alternate' Candidates:
Promoted 'Alternate' candidates ('Final' candidates) that confirm their intention to continue their candidacy will be notified of their offer of employment and placement details on an ongoing basis. In some cases, a contracting organisation or current JET participant may contact a candidate before the Consulate has information regarding the contracting organisation.
Promoted 'Alternate' candidates that withdraw from the JET Programme after receiving notification of employment and placement are not eligible to re-apply during the following contract year.
What is the absolute deadline for responding to an offer of acceptance?
The deadline generally falls in the third week of April, and will be clearly marked at the bottom of the reply form. Please note that late replies may not be accepted, and withdrawals after the deadline may affect your future application eligibility.
I have been selected as an 'Alternate'. What does this mean and when will I know the details of my departure?
This means that you are considered suitable to participate on the JET Programme, but that we do not currently have a position available for you. Every effort will be made to contact you as positions come available, from late April until October 31. Be sure that your reply form is filled out and returned to the JET desk and follow the directions included with your offer of 'Alternate' status. Be certain that the JET Coordinator has current phone, e-mail and address information for you at all times. If you cannot be contacted, someone else may be offered your spot. Do not complete the certificate of health until you are upgraded to the candidate list.
I received a letter of decline. What are the most common reasons for rejection and can I re-apply next year?
As there are a limited number of positions available to a large number of applicants, not all applicants are selected. While the largest number of rejections occurs at the application screening stage, still more occur during the interview process. A poor interview can easily affect your candidacy, and lack of research can adversely affect your ability to respond well. In some cases, your goals, skills and aptitudes may have been assessed as unsuitable for participation on the JET Programme, at this time.
If you are not selected this year but would like to apply again in the future, we strongly recommend that you research the JET Programme, Japan and working in Japan, and evaluate your own reasons for wishing to participate. While specific interview feedback is generally not available, you are welcome to contact the Embassy or Consulate with general questions of eligibility. In most cases you may apply again.
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What about pre-departure training and preparations?

What is the proper way to refer to a JET Programme participant?
The JET Programme is commonly referred to as JET (all capital letters). From the point at which each JET participant confirms his or her contract with a contracting organisation in Japan, he or she is referred to as a JET (plural: JETs). An Assistant Language Teacher is referred to as an ALT (plural: ALTs), and a Coordinator for International Relations as a CIR (plural: CIRs).
Will I receive training prior to departure?
Yes, during a pre-departure orientation weekend organised by the Consulate in conjunction with the JET Alumni Association (JETAA), the Association for Japanese Culture (AJC) and other Japanese organisations in Toronto. Japanese language classes will also be available to interested participants (in limited numbers), prior to departure and a General Information Handbook (GIH), Japanese language texts, CDs and other useful reference materials will also be provided to all JET participants.
Besides attending these events and studying Japanese, what else can I do to prepare for life in Japan?
To deepen your understanding of Japanese culture and make a smooth adjustment to life in Japan, you could research the area where you will be living, as well as the rest of Japan. You may also want to familiarize yourself with Japanese food, festivals and various customs. There are a number of organizations in Canada that have Japanese resources and events for you to access, as well as the internet and travel guides. Speaking with former JET participants could also provide you with valuable knowledge.
Who do I contact for details about my placement?
From early to mid June through July your contracting organisation should send you an information package, including details about your placement. In many cases they will also include contact information for the current JET in your position. As each JET contract and living situation is unique, the first and best source of information about your placement will be your contracting organisation. The Embassy and Consulate have no direct contact with contracting organisations.
How will I arrange accommodation?
You will be met by your supervisor or a representative of your contracting organisation when you arrive. Typically that person will have already arranged your accommodation for you. At the very least they will help you to find a place and purchase initial appliances and furniture. New JET participants commonly assume the accommodation of their predecessor or are offered accommodation in an pre-designated JET apartment. In almost all cases, you will be responsible for paying for your own key money (a moving-in deposit), rent and utilities - which in some circumstances may be subsidised.
Who arranges my visa and travel documents and do I incur a cost?
The Consulate will arrange your visa and travel documents (airline ticket to Japan) and cover administrative costs. Accordingly, your passports will be collected during the pre-departure orientation and held at the Consulate until the day before your departure. If you require your passport during this time period, please make early alternate arrangements with the JET Co-ordinator.
Who arranges my health certificate and do I incur a cost? When do I send it to the Consulate?
Upon acceptance to the final 'Short List' you will be required to have a licensed physician complete a health certificate (provided by the JET Co-ordinator) that complies with Japanese Immigration and JET Programme policy. You are responsible for all costs related to the completion of your health certificate, which typically range from $0 to $200 (depending on your physician's or clinic's policy and your relationship to them). As medical test results typically take time to process, plan for and book an early appointment.
If you are a 'Short List' candidate you should submit your health certificate as soon as possible. If you are an 'Alternate' candidate you should submit it as soon as possible after you have been promoted to the final 'Short List'. If you expect a delay, be sure to notify the JET Co-ordinator.
My partner and I both applied to JET, but only one of us was accepted. What are our options?
You may apply (independently) for a 'Working Holiday Visa' or a 'Dependent Visa' through the Embassy or a Consulate General of Japan. Proof of marriage in the form of a marriage certificate is required for a 'Dependent Visa'. You are responsible for informing both the Embassy or a Consulate as well as your contracting organisation if your spouse or partner will accompany you. If this intention was not stated on your original application, please contact us immediately.
JET Programme officials keep asking me for photos. Why?
Photos are often requested for administrative purposes, and in Japan are commonly required on job applications, residency registration forms, out-of-country travel documents and other official forms. We suggest you bring 10 or more passport-sized photos with you, to keep on hand. Photo-booth photos with a simple white background are generally acceptable. Those with curtains or other backgrounds are generally not.
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Important Dates to Remember

2011 JET Programme Timeline* from Application to Departure
*specific to Toronto applicants/participants

Sep. ~ Nov. 2010

Applications are made available online at JET Programme Canadian Homepage.

Nov. 30, 2010

Deadline for submitting applications to the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa.

Dec. 2010
~ Jan. 2011

First stage of screening process: Applications processed and evaluated.

Late Jan. 2011

Notification, by the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa, as to whether applicants have passed the paper selection stage to be invited to attend an interview.

Early Feb. 2011

Notification, by the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto, of interview time and date.

3rd week of
Feb. 2011

Second stage of screening process:Interviews. Candidates who have selected Toronto as the interview location must interview in Toronto on the assigned dates.

Note: Other interview locations are Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal. All Canadian candidates must interview within Canada in one of these cities as designated on their applications. Location/date cannot be changed.

Mar. 2011

Interview results sent to Tokyo.

Mid-Apr. 2011

Announcement, by the Consulate, of final interview results:selected as a participant (short list candidate), an alternate (waiting list), or not selected.

Late Apr. 2011

Deadline to submit reply form confirming intention to continue candidacy.

Submission of photocopies of a valid passport; two passport-sized photos;
completed health certificate.

Preparations to secure a Criminal Record and Vulnerable Sector police check.

Late Apr.
~ Mid-Dec. 2011

Notification of alternates being upgraded to the short list on a rolling basis.

~ Jul. 2011

Notification to new JETs of placement details, on a rolling basis.
Final acceptance package sent by Contracting Organizations.

Early May 2011

Creation of Listserv for candidates (not alternates) who will depart from Toronto.  Invitations to join this list will be sent by e-mail.


JET Q&A Sessions 1 for Toronto candidates, Japan Information Centre.


Optional Japanese language course for new JETs (Toronto, Waterloo).

Mid ~ late Jun. 2011

Pre-Departure Orientation weekend;


JET Q&A Sessions 2

Late Jun. 2011

Short list candidates must submit a completed Police Reference Check.


JET Q&A Sessions 3


Mandatory pre-departure meeting and farewell reception.

Jul. 31, 2011

Departure for Japan for Toronto JET participants,
Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Toronto.

Aug. 1, 2011

Arrival in Japan at Narita Airport, Tokyo.

Aug. 2, 2011

Beginning of orientation and contracts.