Life of an ALT: Interac Timeline

I’ve seen a few blogs over the years from incoming ALTs who have logged their Interac timeline and I found them really helpful during the initial application process.

Remember that everyone and every situation is different – however, these are my personal experiences as part of the Autumn 2019 intake as an applicant from the UK.

My experience does not take into account any restrictions due to the pandemic.
(Dates are shown day/month as is standard in the UK.)

17/01 – Completed application on Interac’s website.
24/01 – Invited to interview, received questionnaire to complete.
25/01 – Contacted my references.
28/01 – Emailed completed questionnaire and contact information for my references.
29/01 – Received request for my demo lesson with tips and guidelines. Confirmed interview date.
19/02 – Emailed my demo lesson video to Interac.
24/02 – Posted my full CV, visa photos, copy of passport, degree and TEFL certification to Interac.
26/02 – Attended group interview in York.
06/03 – Interac confirmed my application has been forwarded to the Tokyo office for consideration and I should hear back in two weeks.
21/03 – I followed up with the Interac UK office since it had been over two weeks, and received a reply the same day that they recently conference called with the Tokyo office who are experiencing delays.
11/04 – Placement offer received for the Kansai region from the Tokyo office which I accepted the same day.
12/04 – Email from Kansai office welcoming me to the company and advised I will receive more information shortly.
26/04 – Received contract and application for COE (Certificate of Eligibility) from the Tokyo office to complete and return.
28/04 – Completed and emailed COE application and contract.
29/05 – Chased Interac for training dates as I was eager to book my flight. Received a response the same day with the tentative dates, but that these should be 100% confirmed within the week.
31/05 – Received confirmation of training dates, accommodation, and location of the training centre. Also received information regarding a driving position, and I emailed back advising in my application I specified I would require a non-driving position. Received an email back within an hour apologising for the error and confirmed I would definitely be placed in a non-driving role.
06/06 – Booked flight to Japan.
18/06 – Received notification that my COE application has been lodged with Immigration authorities and will be processed in 3-6 weeks.
12/07 – COE arrived via Fedex.
15/07 – Dropped COE and passport off at embassy.
26/07 – Picked up COE, passport, and visa from embassy. (They’re usually unable to post these.)
07/08 – Received apartment information and phone contract to sign and return digitally.
17/08 – Arrived in Japan.
20-23/08 – Training.
24/08 – Mandatory drugs test and health check at a clinic. A helper from Interac (known as an IC) takes me shopping for essentials and I move into my apartment. Internet, gas, and electric are switched on.
26/08 – City Hall adulting with IC: sorting out national health, pension exemption, received residence card, open bank account, etc.
27/08 – Visit schools.
28/08 – Term begins.

As you can see, the actual process takes longer than you might think.
It took four months from my initial application to receiving an offer, and eight months from application to arrival in Japan.

So I’d recommend even if you’re still just thinking about it, get your application in early.

While Interac does hire year-round, their big intakes are for the beginning of Spring (late March) and Autumn (late August) terms. I would aim for these, you’ll be in a larger training environment where you can meet other ALTs.
If you arrive outside these times, chances are you’re covering for someone who has done a bunk and you may find it harder to settle in, arriving in the middle of a school year.

My suggestion: For Spring intake apply by September. For Autumn intake, apply by January.

~ Carla

OFF-TOPIC: This was actually my 100th post on TheGeordieGaijin. Thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the years. Keep it 100, guys!

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