How to get a Japanese visa?
Updated: Sep 16
An easy guide to the basics of Japanese visa procedures!
This is a basic explanation of the different types of Japanese visas, and their respective application procedures. For now, we will not describe the paperwork in detail, but feel free to ask us our advice. If there is interest, we will write separate posts about each type of visa.
Know yourself and avoid the paper cuts of a thousand depressing documents.
I'm not going to lie, getting a Japanese visa can be a serious pain in the caboose. Some visas are a lot easier to get than others though. If you can endure to only stay six months of the year in Japan, you might not ever need anything more than a tourist visa.
The current rule – at least for Norwegian tourists – is that we can stay maximum six months a year in Japan. Note that this does not mean that you can spend six months in Japan every calendar year.
From the moment you set foot in Japan, your days are numbered!
Let's say you entered Japan in late July, and stayed for four months. When the new year begins you will still only be able to stay in Japan for two months, until your yearly quota is reset in late July (when your entry date from the previous year comes up).
A lot can be done in six months, however, if your job allows it, and you don't require to register for Japanese health insurance, pension plan, taxes or residence. If you plan to stay in Japan on a more permanent basis, all of these issues have to be taken care of though.
Therefore, think very closely about your purpose and intent in Japan!
The essentials needed for getting a Japanese visa
Two passport photos
Application forms (obtained from your Japanese embassy or consulate)
Proof of financial self-reliance and the means to get back to your own country
Medical insurance papers
What are the types of visas in Japan? (In technical terms)
Japanese visas are categorized in two groups: «Short-Term Stay» and «Long-Term Stay». Note that this is a simplified categorization. In reality, there are close to 30 types of Japanese visas. A more technical categorization is to divide the visas into three types:
The most common Non-Working Visas are:
Temporary Visitor Visa
The most common Working Visas are:
Skilled labor visa
Intra-company transferee visa
Highly skilled professional visa
Working holiday visa
The most common Family Visas are:
Spouse or child of Japanese nationals visa
Spouse or child of permanent resident visa
Long term resident visa
Types of Japanese visas - Simply put!
We could get into specifics, but the idea at this point is to outline what Japanese visa procedures are about. For the sake of simplification, here are some general guidelines for the most common visa cases:
Non-Working Visa procedures:
Temporary Visa is self-explanatory and easy. Fill out some documents at the airport and you are good to go. Tourists are allowed to stay in Japan for three to six months, depending on what country you come from.
Student Visas will in most cases be taken care of by your learning institution, while Trainee Visas will be taken care of by your company (with certain exceptions).
Working Visa procedures for Part-Time Workers:
One of the easiest ways to stay in Japan for longer periods of time is to get a job as an English Teacher or ALT (assistant language teacher). There are many companies that will hire people with fluency in English. Often these companies will also offer visa sponsorship.
As for Working Holiday Visa, it can only be issued once to persons between the age of 18 and 30. It allows you to stay in Japan for six to twelve months. Basically, it lets you visit Japan for up to one year and work to support your stay.
The idea behind the Working Holiday Visa is to promote cultural understanding between Japan and various countries. Note that the rules and regulations for this visa type varies in relation to agreements between Japan and the countries in question.
Working Visa procedures for Full Time Workers:
Should you be so lucky as to get hired by a company in Japan, the company will take care of your visa application in most cases. Often they will also set you up with housing, telephone, bank accounts, health insurance and pension plan as well.
Japanese fluency is usually required, but life in Japan can be pretty sweet for skilled workers who knows the language. That is, if you can cope with the long working hours.
If you need to take care of the Working Visa yourself, you are advised to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the company or organization that sponsors your stay in Japan. It is possible to get a visa without this certificate, but it will definitely make your application process easier. For more info, check out the resources below.
Family Visa Procedures:
Family visa is a hassle if you don't want to hire a professional lawyer. If you are married to a Japanese national, who is above-average organized, you can get him/her to do this chore for you, but be prepared for frustration and comfort eating.
There are some 40 documents that need to be filled out – all in Japanese – in order to get a Certificate of Eligibility from the Japanese Ministry of Justice.
To get this certificate you first need to get confirmation from both Japan and your own country that the marriage has been accepted and registered by both governments. Foreign documents must be notarized, stamped with Apostille and translated to Japanese before they can be accepted by the Japanese government.
When the Certificate of Eligibility has been obtained, you can then apply for a spousal or child of Japanese nationals visa at your own embassy.
Overstay of Japanese visa
Never stay longer than your Japanese visa allows! If you for some reason are held back, or hindered from returning to your home country, you should notify a Japanese immigration office as soon as possible. If you notify the authorities about your problems you will usually not be penalized for your overstay.
If you are caught overstaying intentionally in Japan, you will be detained and confined for an undetermined period of time. Thereafter, you will be deported and banned from re-entering Japan for the following five years.
In-Dept resources on how to get a Japanese visa
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: Visa
VisasJapan: Japan Visa Types
June Advisors Group: Visa & Immigration Procedure in Japan
Japan Visitor: Japan Visas
Just Landed: Visas for Japan
Takeaway: Best tips for getting a Japanese visa
1. Consider your intentions and chose your visa type carefully.
2. Prepare well! Get your papers in order!
3. Prepare even better! Read all our listed resources about Japanese visas.
4. Get prepared to translate Japanese documents.
5. Be patient, honest and serious, and you will manage just fine.
6. Do not overstay your Japanese visa!
7. Feel free to contact Husky Loves Japan for personal advice.