The immigration departments of most companies around the world today require that foreign visitors apply for a visa in order to enter the country. Of course, there are exceptions: many countries have special arrangements with certain other countries which allow their citizens to travel domestically without a visa. However, usually such arrangements are valid for short stays only: longer visits require visas. Japan is no exception.
If you are looking for a Japan travel visa, you should educate yourself about the 6 types of Japanese visas. Depending upon the reason for your trip to Japan, you will need one of these types of visas in order to enter, visit/stay, and carry out certain activities legally while in the country.
The 6 types of visas are: temporary visitor’s visa, working visa, general visa, specified visa, diplomatic visa, and an official visa.
The first type is the visa-free stay. This is technically called a temporary visitor’s visa as the name implies. However, do not let the name fool you: the visa-free stay has a number of restrictions associated with it. In order to qualify for a visa-free stay in Japan, you need to be prepared to leave the country within 90 days after entering. Also, upon entry you must be carrying a passport that will be valid throughout your entire stay, and you must have in your possession a ticket back out of the country. This visa is valid for 90, 30 or 15 days.
If you plan to work while in Japan – which means earning money in any manner while you are there – you will need to apply for a working visa before you enter the country. According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, the working visa is good for either 1 or 3 years. You must apply for your Japanese working visa before you enter Japan. This means that you cannot enter Japan on a visa-free stay and then convert to a working visa without leaving the country first.
Official categories for the working visa for Japan include: professor, artist, religious activities, journalist, investor/business manager, legal/accounting services, medical services, researcher, instructor, engineer, specialist in humanities, intracompany transferee, entertainer, and skilled labor.
It may be that your trip to Japan will have you staying there longer than 90 days but you do not plan to be earning money while you are there. Instead, maybe you plan to study or become involved in certain cultural activities while in Japan. Or, maybe you will be staying with friends, family members, or in a home-stay situation for longer than 90 days. If this describes your situation, you will need to apply for a general visa for your visit to Japan. This is good for either 1 year or 6 months (cultural activities), 2 years or 1 year (college student), 1 year or 6 months (precollege student), 1 year or 6 months (trainee), or 3/2/1 years or 6/3 months (dependent).
On the other hand, maybe you are married to a Japanese citizen, you are the spouse of a permanent resident in Japan, or you are a long-term resident. In this case, you will need to apply for a specified visa in order to stay legally in Japan. This is valid for 3 years, 1 year or 6 months.
Finally, if you are a diplomat or a diplomatic courier to Japan you will require a diplomatic visa upon entry into Japan. According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, the diplomatic visa is only valid for the duration of the mission. The visa is valid for the duration of the mission. Similarly, if you work in a way that supports diplomatic endeavors in general, such as working as a technical or administrative employee who supports a diplomat, you will need to apply for what is termed an official visa. Like the diplomatic visa, this visa, too, is only valid for the duration of the mission.
A cautionary note: if at present your particular plans for your trip to Japan are not yet clear, you may be tempted to enter Japan using a visa-free stay as you keep your options open. This is fine, provided that you actually do leave the country within the specified 90 days and that you do not try to earn money while in Japan. However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days or plan to work, do the wise thing and apply now for the appropriate type of visa. It could save you a lot of trouble later.
Consider applying for one of these 6 types of Japanese visas as you plan your upcoming trip and/or stay in Japan. For more information, visit the Embassy of Japan of Washington, D.C. website.