Quite a couple of people have asked me to explain how to apply for a visa to Japan (yes, you need a proper visa to enter Japan, if you haven't heard). The Japanese government has strict laws against illegal immigrants, so they make it tough for foreigners to enter. The process can seem taxing at first, so troublesome that I had to hire an agent to do it for my first visit. After getting used to it, applying no longer became a hassle. I thought it'd be a good idea to write it, so that it'll serve as a guide to anyone who's planning to visit Japan.
According to the Japanese Embassy, you need several documents:
- Original passport
- Visa application form
- Employment certificate
- Personal savings account
- Proof of relationship with other applicants
Okay, let me break them down.
1. Original passport
Get your passport ready. You'll be submitting it altogether with all of the documents below.
2. Visa application form
Fill this form up with black pen. They're also so awesome to have provided a sample form for your reference.
The photo must be taken within six months of the application date. Its size must be 4.5 x 4.5" and the background must be white. Mention to the photographer that it's meant for the Japanese visa and they'll know what to do. I'm not sure what's the rationale behind this, but some photographers say you're not allowed to smile in the photo and that you have to show your ears.
They need you to have an idea of where you'll be heading to while you're in Japan, not to trace where you go or what, but to assure that you have a clue of what you're doing, and not trying to work there illegally, I think.
Fill this itinerary form. Provide:
- All the dates of your visit
- Major activity for each day e.g. Visiting Tokyo Tower
- Your own mobile number or the number of the person you are visiting
- The name and address of the hotel or residence you'll be staying at for that date
5. Employment certificate
Purpose? The Japanese embassy wants to make sure that you are earning to support your trip, that you will return and because you have a commitment back home, you won't be migrating to Japan illegally (correct me if I'm wrong, but this was the information that was given to me).
If you're working...
You need to get workplace to issue an official letter which confirms that you are working for them - not an offer letter. The letter must provide:
- Your position in the organization
- Length of service
If you're not working...
The Japanese Embassy states that you can provide a self-explanatory letter providing how your expenses in Japan will be borne. It's an option, but I didn't do this though.
My trip was self-sponsored before I started work, but I still had my mom as my guarantor. She managed to get her letter of employment providing the details mentioned above, also stating in the letter that she was a guarantor and would bore the cost of my trip.
6. Personal savings account
You need to present at least one certified copy of your accounts latest statement - it could be from your:
- Personal savings
- Fixed deposits
- Tabung Haji
Make sure that the statement provides your name, account number and current balance.
I often go to the ASB branch at PNB early in the morning to get my latest statement copied and certified there. You can do this at your bank, too. If you're not working yet and are relying on parents or guardians as guarantors, get their statement copied and certified.
7. Proof of relationship
If you're visiting with family...
You need to show proof of relationship:
- Husband and wife need to show a copy of their marriage certificate
- If you bring children along, you need to provide a copies of their birth certificates, to prove that your children are in fact your children
If your guarantor are your parents...
- You need to provide proof that your guarantor are your parents, too, with a birth certificate
If you're visiting somebody there...
I don't know if this is necessary at all, but once upon a time an agent suggested that I provide copies of Reza's passport, Japanese ID and even a picture of us together to show that we know him.
Finally! Once you've gotten everything, arrange them properly in the order provided above and submit them personally to:
Off Jalan Tun Razak
8.30 a.m. - 12.00p.m
2.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.
But please do this at least two weeks before the trip. The visa is valid within three months of the issue date. After submission, they'll issue you a confirmation slip and expected date of pickup. Your visa will be ready within three days and if there are any problems, they'll give you a call :)