Program Information

  • IN WHAT INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS DOES THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S BUREAU OF POPULATION, REFUGEES, AND MIGRATION SUPPORT JPOS?

The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) funds and participates in the selection and placement of Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) .

To learn about other employment opportunities with international organizations available to U.S. citizens, please see http://iocareers.state.gov/Main/Home.

  • HOW DO THE UNHCR and IOM PROGRAMS DIFFER?

These staffing programs are affiliated with different organizations, and thus the work of the JPOs reflects the unique mandate of each agency. The application and selection processes also vary slightly. In most other respects, however, the basic program principles are similar. Where applicable, variations are highlighted below.

  • DO JPOS WORK FOR THE U.S. GOVERNMENT?

Though sponsored by the U.S. Government and funded by PRM, American JPOs are employees of UNHCR or IOM.

  • WHAT TYPE OF WORK DO JPOS DO?

UNHCR JPOs: JPOs, under the supervision of UNHCR officials, have an opportunity to work for, obtain training in, and exposure to UNHCR’s humanitarian work to assist in the protection of and assistance to refugees and other persons of concern. Job responsibilities vary by assignment but positions sponsored by PRM have included refugee protection, resettlement, refugee status determination, registration, livelihoods, and community services officer positions.

IOM JPOs: JPOs gain exposure to IOM’s work in providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants and helping to ensure the orderly and humane management of migration. The responsibilities of PRM-sponsored JPOs at IOM vary by assignment but may entail providing assistance to victims of human trafficking or technical advice and services to governments and/or migrants on migration management issues.

  • WHAT TYPE OF TRAINING DO JPOS RECEIVE?

Usually, newly recruited JPOs receive a 3 to 4 day orientation at UNHCR or IOM headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, before traveling to their respective duty stations. In addition, JPOs often attend workshops, seminars, and other relevant training throughout their assignment.

  • WHERE DO JPOS SERVE?

UNHCR JPOs: PRM currently supports JPOs in many places throughout the world where refugee and other person of concern populations are found, frequently in hardship locations. Recent American JPOs have served in Chad, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malaysia, Sudan, and Thailand, for example. PRM-sponsored JPOs rarely also serve at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva on an exceptional basis during an optional third year.

IOM JPOs: While IOM JPOs may serve anywhere in the world where IOM operates, PRM tends to support positions in developing countries or countries with economies in transition. Recent PRM-sponsored JPOs have served in Costa Rica, Indonesia and Senegal.

  • HOW LONG DO JPOS SERVE?

It is expected that JPOs will serve a complete 2-year term (JPOs are assigned for an initial period of 1 year, then extended for a second year, subject to their satisfactory performance). In very special circumstances, PRM may sponsor a JPO for a third year in a different post.

  • HOW MANY NEW JPO POSITIONS DOES PRM FILL EACH YEAR?

UNHCR JPOs: The number of new JPO positions sponsored annually by PRM varies from year to year but is typically in the range of 6 to 10 new posts.  PRM seeks to support approximately 20 JPOs at a given time.

IOM JPOs: PRM usually sponsors 1 new IOM JPO position annually.

  • WHAT COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS DO JPOS RECEIVE?

JPOs supported through PRM enter into service with UNHCR or IOM at the P-2 Step 1 level on the UN scale. For questions on salary, see UN Professional Salary information here http://www.un.org/Depts/OHRM/salaries_allowances/salary.htm.  Depending on the post, a JPO is often entitled to additional compensation, which could include a post adjustment multiplier and a mobility and hardship allowance. JPOs are also entitled to a standard entitlement and benefits package offered by their respective employers.

  • WHAT PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES DO THE JPO PROGRAMS PROVIDE?

JPOs are not guaranteed continued employment with UNHCR or IOM after their program completion. However, experience as a JPO does improve an individual’s chances of securing follow-on employment, and many JPOs successfully compete for permanent positions in UNHCR and IOM, as well as in other international agencies or humanitarian NGOs.

Application & Selection Process

  • MUST I BE A U.S. CITIZEN TO APPLY?

Yes, U.S. citizenship is required to participate in the JPO programs sponsored by PRM. Legal permanent residents are not eligible to apply. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please see the UNHCR and IOM websites at www.UNHCR.org and www.IOM.int for information about JPO opportunities sponsored by other countries and organizations.

  • IS THERE AN AGE REQUIREMENT TO APPLY TO THESE PROGRAMS?

The JPO programs are entry-level professional positions, so candidates with the appropriate level of experience typically are in their late-20s to 30s. However, there is no specific age requirement to apply.

  • WHAT QUALIFICATIONS SHOULD AN APPLICANT HAVE?

JPO program selection is very competitive. Qualifications for JPO positions vary by assignment, but a graduate degree in a relevant discipline (i.e. often but not limited to, international relations, law, humanitarian assistance, forced migration, international migration, development, or human rights) and a strong working knowledge of a second UN language (French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, or Russian) in addition to English are highly desirable. Competitive applicants generally possess three or more years of work experience in a developing country. Previous overseas experience working with refugees, vulnerable migrants, and or other persons of concern is especially valuable. Familiarity with the UN system is also an asset. Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree may be competitive if they have multiple years of overseas experience, especially in refugee- or migration-related work. All candidates must have the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships in cross-cultural settings and be willing to live and/or serve in hardship locations as required.

  • HOW DO I APPLY?

Once PRM decides to support a JPO position, the JPO job title and country are posted on the PRM website along with the link to the UNHCR website and application deadline. The JPO email distribution list is notified of the vacancy. If you would like to be notified when new JPO vacancies are announced, you can subscribe here. If you subscribe, updates will be sent to you from usstatebpa@subscriptions.fcg.gov. Please monitor your spam and junk mail folders to ensure you are not blocking emails from this address.

UNHCR JPOs: All applicants must apply directly through the UNHCR e-recruitment system: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/careers.html. Click on the blue button “International vacancies”, and use the search function for JPO posts. Applicants will be asked to register and complete an online profile in the UNHCR system (a blue form). For further information, please refer to: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/how-to-apply.htmlApplications must be received by 11:59pm Geneva time (GMT+1) on the closing date. Applications received after this deadline will not be considered. Applicants must apply separately for each position for which you are qualified and wish to be considered. Any questions on the application process should be submitted to HQAWFJPO@unhcr.org.

IOM JPOs: Interested candidates with the required qualifications should submit their applications on-line via PRISM, the IOM e-Recruitment system at http://www.iom.int/how-apply. In order for an application to be considered valid, IOM only accepts online profiles duly filled in and submitted with a cover letter (not more than one page) specifying the motivation for the applications.

  • MAY I APPLY FOR MORE THAN ONE OPEN JPO POSITION AT A TIME?

Yes, you may apply for multiple positions at a time. You must submit a separate application for every position for which you are qualified and wish to be considered. Applying for more than one opening at a time will not harm your chances of selection, as your qualifications will be reviewed against the unique requirements for each position.

  • IS THERE A DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS?

Yes. Applications typically are accepted for 3 weeks after a JPO position is posted on UNHCR’s website. The application deadline is clearly noted on individual JPO vacancy announcements.

Applications must be received by 11:59pm Geneva time (GMT+1) on the stated closing date.

Late applications will not be considered.

  • WHAT IS THE SELECTION PROCESS?

UNHCR JPOs: Once the deadline has passed, UNHCR conducts an initial review and interview.  PRM reviews the most qualified candidates. UNHCR then work to assess the finalists, typically including an interview and reference check. UNHCR then selects the preferred candidate, which PRM approves. It often takes a minimum of 3 months from the time a JPO opening is posted until a candidate is selected. If a large number of candidates apply, the selection process will take longer.

IOM JPOs: Once a vacancy announcement closes, IOM conducts an initial review and forwards a list of the most qualified candidates to PRM. PRM reviews the candidates and conducts interviews, and identifies a selection of 3 to 4 finalists for IOM to consider. IOM reviews the finalists, which may include an additional interview and reference checks, and makes a final recommendation. PRM notifies successful candidates of their selection by IOM. Once the offer of employment is accepted, all other applicants are informed via email that the position has been filled. It often takes a minimum of 2 to 3 months from the time an IOM JPO opening is posted until a candidate is selected.

  • WHAT IF I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS?

General program inquiries should be sent to the PRM JPO Coordinator at JPOcoordinator@state.gov and will be answered as promptly as possible. Questions on the online application systems must be directed to either UNHCR or IOM, as appropriate.

  • HOW DO I SIGN UP TO RECEIVE PROGRAM UPDATES?

Interested individuals may receive periodic JPO program updates and vacancy announcement notifications via email by subscribing here. Once you subscribe, updates will be sent to you from usstatebpa@subscriptions.fcg.gov . Please check your account settings to ensure your account does not block email notifications from this address.

U.S. Department of State

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