How to Ace Your Japanese Visa
Before heading to Japan, note that for Filipinos, a visa is needed. And it's not just any visa, it’s THE VISA. Maybe, this is one of the reasons why most Filipinos opt to travel elsewhere because the Japanese visa is one of the hardest to acquire, along with US visa.
I was told by a travel agent that back in the 90's, Japan has become a popular destination for Filipinos who want to work abroad. No problem. But more and more Filipinos travel to Japan to work without the necessary working permits. They get a tourist visa, and never come back. After a while, the consul became aware of this growing problem, and the rest is history. Nowadays, just a word of caution, about a few months ago, it became stricter again, and the immigration is keeping close attention to Filipinos traveling to Japan. But if you're just there for pure tourism purposes, then i guess you have nothing to worry.
I will try my best to share with you my experience on how my Japanese visa application got approved. For purpose of this blog entry, i will only write about the purpose of visit which is tourism, and traveling solo.
1. TRAVEL AGENCY WILL PROCESS YOUR TOURIST VISA
First things first, gone are the days when you can apply for a visa yourself. Nowadays, the embassy of Japan has enumerated accredited travel agencies where you can pass the application and they'll be the ones to process it for you. Rates for tourism purposes, start from P1200 to P2000/visa. These agencies have satellite offices in Manila and Cebu, and have good enough information on their website. Please see below.
Click on the Japan Embassy Website - Accredited Agencies index.
Call the travel agency personnel and ask what are the requirements and steps in processing your application. I've called them up many times, and asked over and over again the requirements just to be sure. Of course, there will be a time when you have to ask the staff, perhaps you lack this requirement and you're wondering if you can submit something else instead. Don't worry, it's better to be prepared.
I chose Reli Tours because the office location is most convenient to where I live.
The travel agency personnel will then ask you your purpose of visit and how many people are traveling.
2. JAPANESE VISA APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
For Tourism purposes, please see below required documents, and submit the Original and photocopy, just to be sure. You don't want to go back again and again, right?
TOURIST / VISIT FRIENDS or DISTANT RELATIVES
Purpose of going to Japan is on package tour / exhibition visit friends / distant relatives (cousins or further relatives)
(In case the applicant is applying together with another individual who has a relative in Japan
(up to the third degree of relationship), follow the requirements for “visiting relative”.)
As of July 2007
All documents must be original unless otherwise stated.
1. Philippine Passport
Broken lamination of the photo part is not accepted. Must have signature and have at least two (2) blank pages.
2. Visa Application Form
Also available at the entrance of Embassy or through accredited agency.
Recommendation: I suggest you fill up the application form in the travel agency so if you have questions about some things, you can just easily ask the personnel, before completing the application form.
Specs: 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background
Photo must be pasted on the application form.
Recommendation: You can ask in any of the photo stalls located in malls for a Japanese visa application photo, because they actually have samples for this.
4. Birth Certificate of applicant
Recommendation: Call up NSO Hotline at 7371111 to ask for a copy of your original birth certificate. Pay it at Metrobank. It will be delivered to you 1-3 days. Check out their website here.
5. Marriage Contract (if the applicant is married)
(4 and 5 must be from NSO Main Office/Serbilis Outlet Center (Nationwide) issued within one (1) year.)
In case of non-record, you must submit certificate of non-record together with the one from Local Civil Registrar.)
EXEMPTION OF BIRTH CERTIFICATES and MARRIAGE CONTRACT
If the applicant is has his/her passport (old or valid) with a used Japanese visa
6. Daily Schedule in Japan (TAIZAI NITTEIHYO ）
Recommendation: Be precise and brief. There is a standard table-format with example, provided by the Embassy of Japan where you write your schedule of stay, complete with date, activity plan, accommodations and contact details. Be honest and truthful. I am quite OC, so I made sure all information written there are accurate. Be sure to include flight details and hotel accommodation contact number and address. You don't have to be specific. It doesn't mean that because you wrote the hotel and places where you will go doesn't mean it's final. Plans do change. And the consul won't hire a private investigator to hunt where you're actually staying or going. And most of the information written there was based from Lonely Planet Japan anyway.
7. (If visiting friend) Documents or photos etc. to prove relationship
Recommendation: I actually had a dilemma which I opened up with the personnel. I have a Japanese friend and I was wondering if it would help in my visa application. The personnel said, it’s the same if you don’t have one. Plus the requirements take time, like you need to ask your friend to provide residence certificate, etc in Original form. So i decided to not process my application with a guarantor in Japan.
8. Invitation Letter from Guarantor in Japan
(Must have handwritten signature) (not applicable if package tour)
9. Bank Certificate
Recommendation: So how much money do you need to have in your bank account? Go back to your itinerary and compare. If you’re staying at this hotel with a room price of X amount, plus your round trip ticket of X amount, plus your daily expenses for food, shopping, transportation. Then, you will have an idea on how much money you need to have in your bank account, at least. I think for four days, P150,000 in your account is too much. But if you have this much money, why not. I was told before by a reliable source, that one middle aged woman has about roughly a million pesos in her bank account, but could not provide a certificate of employment. Her Japanese visa application was denied. I actually asked the personnel about this, and he said there is no specific amount needed. It all depends on the consul's decision.
So, with just enough money in my bank, I asked for a bank certificate. Got it after a few days. This certificate proves that I have a steady supply of money saved, as compared to a bank account opened a few months prior to the visa application.
10. Income Tax Return (Form 2316) original and photocopy
[9. and 10. are only applicable if he/her or his/her supporter has deposit in bank or income tax return]
Exemption of 9, 10;
If the applicant is eligible for Multiple Entry
Recommendation: This is one of the hardest document for me to provide because I actually quit my job about two years ago. For about two years, I was just traveling on and off around Asia. Plus in my previous company, I was considered a talent, meaning I am not a regular employee. I have a different form number, etc. This was the breaker for me, if I could not provide this one, my application won’t be complete. I asked the personnel, and he said I just submit what I have and from my last ITR form which was two years ago. I just had to write a letter addressing the concern, and reason for such.
In addition, I submitted my employment certificate, without an additional document regarding my leave of absence.
3. SUBMIT YOUR DOCUMENTS ON TIME
For about three weeks, I was gathering all the documents, and writing my itinerary. It was tiring, and I was almost giving up. I went to Reli Tours one Saturday afternoon and submitted all my documents. He asked me for my purpose of visit which is tourism. He also asked me how many people are traveling, and I said just only me. I paid the Japanese visa application fee and as I leave, I saw my documents being handed over to a Japanese official in the agency.
I left and remembered, I forgot to sign one of the documents. I didn’t come back. I was just so tired and have been sleepless just to make sure all of the requirements are in place. If destiny wants me not to travel to Japan, so be it. I already have a back-up plan.
Three days later, I received a text message from the travel agency personnel saying my passport is ready for pick-up.
Stamped with a Japanese visa for travel within three months, good for 15 days! At last!!!
5 things to remember about getting a Japanese Visa
1. Be honest. Tell me you're going to Japan purely for Tourism and not to work TNT. If not, then this blog is not right for you. Remember that whatever you do in Japan will bounce back to your fellowmen. If you want to work, get the necessary work permit. In time, if Filipinos learn to be honest, then maybe, we can all travel to Japan visa-free!
2. Prepare your documents. If you plan on traveling to Japan, keep this blog entry saved. You will need it. Furnish all the necessary documents you need. If you left the company you're working for before, go back and get your BIR form, etc. Make sure you have a checklist of everything you will need. Even the littlest details will affect your application. Heck, even an inch bigger than the stated size of your photo, might cause your application to get denied.
3. Save up. I will blog about this later on. But for purposes of traveling to Japan, its probably one of the few countries in Asia that's expensive. You don't need to so much if you're just going there for four days, but if you're traveling longer, maybe you need some more. Accommodations can be cheaper, transportation expenses can planned ahead of time, food and drinks may be hell lot cheaper, you just have to find where it is sold.
4. Research. Nothing beats a double dose of research. Buy a Lonely Planet book, read and participate in forums like Pinoy Exchange, go to google and type your destination and navigate on blogsearch. Bloggers are passionate individuals who will actually take time to write informative travel posts coupled with photos and tips.
5. Don't think too much.This i learned after applying for a Japanese Visa. I stressed myself so much worrying. As long as your requirements are complete, and you just want to travel around Japan. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. If God wants you to go to Japan, He will find a way. If not, there's a reason for everything.
UP NEXT: After you get your Japanese Visa, it's time to plan your TRIP!