Japanese Working Holiday Visa - The Guide
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 2:57:15 AM
I recently had the experience of getting my working holiday visa. The processes involved are pretty straight forward, but it's always a help to have a guide to push you through the process.
To start, not just anyone can apply for a working holiday visa. Working holiday visa agreements are mutual, that is it has to be a two-way opportunity between both your country and Japan.
Currently the following countries have a mutual working holiday scheme with Japan:
* Australia (Embassy Website)
* Canada (Embassy Website)
* Denmark (Embassy Website)
* France (Embassy Website)
* Germany (Embassy Website)
* Hong Kong (Embassy Website)
* Ireland (Embassy Website)
* Korea (Embassy Website)
* New Zealand (Embassy Website)
* United Kingdom (Embassy Website)
You must be aged between 18-30 (or 18-25 in the case of Ireland, for some random reason). For most countries, you get a one-off, non-renewable one year visa. In the case of Australia you get a 6 month visa that can be renewed twice (this too seems to have changed to one renewal).
So, what do you need in order to get a working holiday visa? Well, first and most important, is a little money. I mean, sure, you can work when your in Japan, but for the purposes of the visa, your main intention must be (at least you must pretend it is) to holiday, and not to work.
The amount depends on your country, but you are looking at around USD$3000, depending on whether or not you buy your plane tickets before or after you apply for your visa. If you buy return tickets, subtract about $1000 or so form this amount. Every visa is given individual treatment, so for example if you only buy a one-way ticket, they will take that into account.
The application process is usually pretty straightforward:
- Complete the visa application form;
- Attach one photograph approx. 35mm x 45mm in size;
- Give personal history, resume or curriculum vitae typed on A4 paper;
- Provide a proposed itinerary for the first six months in Japan, including details of prearranged employment;
- Prepare a written reason for applying for a Working Holiday visa typed on A4 paper;
- Show appropriate evidence of either a travel ticket to and from Japan or a confirmed reservation to and from Japan along with appropriate evidence.
The process is usually split into two parts: First is the submission of all the relevant documentation, minus your bank statement (or traveler's cheques), which are shown after this. After showing them your money, it is usually only a matter of a few days before you get your passport back.
This is the trickiest part. Fill up the itinerary with a bunch of stuff.. Tell a few white lies if you want. Google is your friend here, look up something like "Osaka August Event" and something will pop up. Put that in your itinerary, even if you have no intention of going. But don't write more words than you need to. "Kobe film festival," "Hokkaido Snow Festival," this is enough. Try to put three or four things in each month's box.
Do not write simply "Working" on your itinerary. Unless you have a job offer, write only your intention to work, or this may complicate matters.
You will need to decide where you are going to stay. This could be a friend or a hotel. Whether they will check up on this or not is left to chance, but it may be good to have a friend in Japan who can vouch for you.
Other stuff to note
Once getting into Japan, you will have to get your Gaijin Card within 90 days. It can basically be used in place of your passport for identification, so you'll probably want to get it sooner than that. You must carry your Gaijin Card with you everywhere you go. Ever. Update 15/July 12: This system is going through some changes, will post when I have my updated alien registration card.
You will also need to sign up for insurance at the same place (but probably a different counter). If you are late in signing up, don't worry, but you will need to back-pay from the date that your Gaijin Card was issued. The way it works in Japan is that you are charged depending on your earnings (in Japan) in the last year. If this is your first time to Japan, you are only looking at about ￥22,000 for a year's coverage. Not too bad, but it doesn't cover dental.
For the visa, sometimes an interview is required. I didn't need one and I've never heard of anyone needing one, but it is something to be prepared for.
There are quotas for visas; they only allow in so many people from each country each year. But rest easy, as these quotas are rarely reached.
You will not need a medical check.
Listen to the person over the counter. They're not the person who will yes-or-no your application, but they know what they're talking about!
Your bank statement! You may be asked to show an account statement showing anywhere from one to three months worth of transactions. I just asked a friend to spot me some money for a few weeks (I was applying far ahead of my departure date, so still planned on having more money, just not enough at the time). Worked like a charm, gave back the money.
Get the bank statement stamped or signed by a bank staff member, and try to make it as recent as possible, same day or day-before if possible. I got away with a week old statement because the office had been closed over Christmas, but they could ask for a more recent one if it's too old.
They expect you to have some kind of Japanese language ability, but it is not a definite requirement. You are expected to study the Japanese language during your stay there, though.
Some other useful guides:
Please feel free to share your experiences and tips, for everyone's benefit!