Staying in Japan – Visa

If you intend to stay in Japan, there’s one thing that you have to take care of before your adventure – applying for a Japanese visa.


There are many different visas you can apply for. In the following, we will show you the most common ones so you can decide for yourself which visa works best for you.

For an up-to-date breakdown of who is covered by which visa, check with ministry of foreign affairs. No matter what visa you require, you will want to prepare certain documents prior to your visa application.
– Valid passport
– Two passport-sizes photos
– Completed application forms (available through your Japanese consulate or embassy)
– Proof that you possess financial means to support yourself while living in Japan
– Proof of medical insurance
– Proof of a return ticket or funds to purchase a return ticket to your country of origin

These documents are required for every visa application unless indicated otherwise. Apply for your visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country prior to leaving for Japan. Make sure you submit your documents far enough in advance to give the officials enough time to process yoir application.

Temporary Visitor Visa
If you are a tourist, you will generally be able to stay in Japan between three to six months without a visa. Many countries have a visa exemption agreement with Japan. However if your home country is not on the list, you will have to apply for a Temporary Visitor Visa in advance. By far the easiest visa to obtain, Tourist Visa applications require a valid passport, a visa application form and proof of a return ticket from Japan.

Work Visa
To live and work in Japan, you will need to apply for a Work Visa. Work Visas are usually issued for specific fields.
For example, you will be issued a Journalist Visa if you work as a journalist. At the moment, there is a total of 14 types of work visas. You will want to request a Certificate of Eligibility from the company or organization that is sponsoring your move to Japan before submitting your visa application. While it is technically possible to obtain a work visa with alternative documentation (documents supporting your stated reason for living in Japan, proof of financial means of support), for convenience sake and to keep your sanity, you should make every effort to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility. Your employer must submit additional forms to the Immigration Bureau, including a registration form, profit-loss report and general company information. You will have to provide your CV, degree and employment contract as part of the application process. Work Visas may be issued for lengths from two months to several years. If you wish to stay in Japan longer than your visa permits, you must apply for an extension before the expiration date. Failure will result in you having to leave the country and apply for a new visa at a foreign embassy.

Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa was created to promote cultural exchange among young people. This visa allows a person between 18 and 30 years of age to spend a year living and working part-time in Japan. Likewise, young Japanese are permitted to apply for Working Holiday Visas in the respective countries. You are eligible to apply for a visa if you are from any of the following countries.

Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan, UK

To obtain a Working Holiday Visa, you will need to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Japan. You will have to submit a CV along with all other required documents such as an outline of your stay and a bank statement showing your funds. Note that the Working Holiday Visa allows you to enter Japan only once. If you travel outside Japan during the visa period, you risk being refused re-entry.

Student Visa
If you are going to study in Japan for longer than 90 days, your study abroad program or Japanese university should be able to help you obtain a Student Visa. However, you must apply for your visa at a Japanese consulate or embassy prior to your departure. Requirements are similar to those of the Work Visa, with the university taking the place of the employer. Students are not allowed to work in Japan (even part-time) unless they get special permission from local immigration officials.

Cultural Activities Visa
Japan offers Cultural Activities Visas to help foreigners involved in cultural or academic studies not covered by the Student Visa. For instance, foreigners studying martial arts in Japan, are eligible for this visa. The Cultural Visa allows you to remain in Japan longer than a Tourist Visa (up to a year). In order to obtain this visa, you will need to submit proof of your cultural activities in addition to the usual documents.

Volunteer Visa
With the introduction of the Volunteer Visa Scheme (a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and Japan) in 2003, it is possible for British citizens to volunteer in Japan for up to one year. Recipients of this visa must work for a registered charitable organization providing public services (e.g. The Red Cross) and may not receive any payment for their work. Applications can be submitted at the Japanese consulate in London or Edinburgh. Those travelling on Volunteer Visas may not bring children or spouses with them.

That surely has been a lot to read through. If you have questions left, the website of the Japanese embassy is always helpful. Good luck with your visa application!

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