Immigration services from most companies around the world today require foreign visitors to apply for a visa to enter the country. There are, of course, exceptions: many countries have special arrangements with certain other countries that allow their citizens to travel inland without a visa. Usually, however, such arrangements are only valid for short stays: longer visits require a visa. Japan is no exception.
If you are looking for a travel visa for Japan, you should inform yourself about the 6 types of Japanese visas. Depending on the reason for your trip to Japan, you will need one of these types of visas to enter, visit/stay, and legally carry out certain activities in the country.
The 6 types of visas are:
- temporary visitor visa
- work visa
- general visa
- itemized visa
- diplomatic visa
- an official visa
The first type is a visa-free stay. This is technically called a temporary visitor visa, as the name implies. However, don’t be fooled by the name: There are a number of limitations to the visa-free stay. To be eligible for a visa-free stay in Japan, you must be prepared to leave the country within 90 days of entry. You must also have a passport with you that is valid throughout your stay, and you must be in possession of a ticket back out of the country. This visa is valid for 90, 30, or 15 days.
If you plan to work in Japan – meaning you make money in any way while you are there – you must apply for a work visa before entering the country. According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, the work visa is good for 1 or 3 years. You must apply for your Japanese work visa before entering Japan. This means that you cannot enter Japan with a visa-free stay and then convert it into a work visa without leaving the country first.
Official categories for the work visa for Japan include professor, artist, religious activity, journalist, investor/manager, legal/accounting services, medical services, researcher, instructor, engineer, humanities specialist, intra-corporate transferee, entertainer, and skilled workforce.
You may stay longer than 90 days during your trip to Japan, but you do not intend to make money while there. Instead, you may plan to study or get involved in certain cultural activities in Japan. Or you may be staying with friends, family members, or in a home for longer than 90 days. If this describes your situation, you will need to apply for a general visa before visiting Japan. This is good for 1 year or 6 months (cultural activities), 2 years or 1 year (student), 1 year or 6 months (pre-college student), 1 year or 6 months (trainee), or 3/2/1 years or 6 / 3 months (depending).
On the other hand, you may be married to a Japanese citizen, be the spouse of a permanent resident in Japan, or be a long-term resident. In this case, you must apply for a specified visa to remain 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 need a diplomatic visa upon entering 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. Likewise, if you work in a way that supports diplomatic endeavors in general, such as working as a technical or administrative assistant supporting a diplomat, you must apply for a so-called official visa. Like the diplomatic visa, this visa is only valid for the duration of the mission.
A word of warning: If your specific plans for your trip to Japan aren’t clear at this point, you may be tempted to enter Japan with a visa-free stay while keeping your options open. This is fine provided you actually leave the country within the specified 90 days and you are not trying to make money while in Japan. However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days or plan to work, act wisely, and apply for the right type of visa now. It can save you a lot of trouble later.
Consider applying for one of these 6 types of Japanese visas while planning your upcoming trip and / or stay in Japan. For more information, visit the website of the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C.