This article is going to walk you through how to successfully apply for a Working Holiday Visa for Japan from the United Kingdom. I will supply the EXACT documents that I used and you are more than welcome to take them for yourself, alter them a little and submit them. Hell you can even just change my name to yours and submit them the way they are!
The Japanese Working Holiday Visa is an amazing visa that will allow the holder to stay in Japan for one year, allowing them to work an unlimited amount of hours. Now they do stress that this visa in NOT for people who are specifically looking to just work or study, the main focus should be travel with any side jobs there to help support this. This is a key thing to remember when filling in all the information for your application.Below is a list taken form the Japanese government website detailing the general requirements of the applicant and also the documents required to be submitted.
Requirements of the Applicant
Must be a citizen/national of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark or Norway currently residing in his or her country of citizenship, or must be a resident of Taiwan or Hong Kong. So in other words you need to apply for the visa at the Japanese embassy in you own country! Don’t go jumping across the pound to France to apply if you are a Brit.
Must intend primarily to holiday in Japan for a specific length of time. As mentioned above, if you just say you in your application that you want work all day and find a proper job, then you are not going to be given this visa.
Must be between 18 and 30 years of age.
Must possess a valid passport and a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket.
Must possess reasonable funds for living expenses, including medical expenses, during the period of the initial stay in Japan. For a single person, the minimum is US$2000, for a married couple, US$3000 or equivalent amount of the national currency. For the UK a single person must have £2,500 in cleared funds (last 3 months bank statements must be shown) or £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket. In the case of a married couple applying for two visas, the minimum amounts are £4,500 and £2,500 respectively.
Must be in good health and not have a criminal record.
Period of Stay
1 Year – If you are from New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, France, Germany, U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Norway, then you can stay one year with no extensions (you can however change your visa once in Japan, say if you get a proper job).
6 months with extension – If you are from Australia or Canada then the visa will be for 6 months and can be extended by another 6 months by the immigration authorities.
The general forms for applying are pretty much the same in any country and are:
Application form: (Downloaded from respective Japanese embassy)
Photographs: Identical photograph (45mm x 45mm), to be glued to the application form.
Resume: Resume on A4 paper, including educational background, work experience, hobbies, and other relevant information.
Outline of planned activities in Japan: Probably the hardest document to get ready. You have to write a plan of the places you intend to visit and activities you intend to do.
Written reason for applying: Statement of the reason for applying for the Working Holiday Visa on A4 paper.
Proof of travel funds: A return ticket or proof that you own a bank account etc.
Proof of sufficient funds to support the initial stay in Japan: As mentioned above, if a single application then need £2,500 in cleared funds or £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket
Cash for application fee: Aint nothing in this world for free, and a visa is the same. In the case of the UK application fees cost £23 cash.
Now that background and general information are over with. I want to talk specifically about applying from the UK. What you need to do, write and say to get that bad boy visa. I will of cause be drawing form my own experience, but will also write about the experience of multiple friends that have applied for the visa themselves and are now in Japan. What more could you want.
For the UK 1,000 Working Holiday Visa are available. Once this number has been reached then no more visas will be issued for that year. The visa year I am told is September – September. I actually applied in August (yeah I know, worst time ever to apply) but before I filled out the forms I just gave them a quick call to confirm if the visa were still available, which it was. So I would alway recommend giving the embassy a quick ring to check availability before applying to make sure .
Ok so first the application form. This can be downloaded from the website for the embassy of Japan in the UK and there is also a sample of how to fill in the application form on that page. Now the only places that might make you think are:
Picture: Has 45mm x 45mm written on the page but can just be standard passport size of 45mm x 35mm, no problem.
Date of Arrival, Port of Entry and Name of Ship or Airline: Even if you don’t have have the ticket yet (£2,500 in the bank option) you can fill this out with a provisional flight. Use your itinerary list to give you a rough date and port of entry. Of cause doesn’t matter in the future is any of this information actually changes. Alternatively my friend left this section blank when applying and there were no problems at all.
Purpose of visit to Japan: For this I just put down Travel. Simple as.
Intended Length of Stay in Japan: Just got off your itinerary. Just because it is a year visa doesn’t mean everyone who gets it are going to stay the full year. Just make sure it is long enough to warrant the visa (longer than a Tourist visa – 3 months) then you should be fine.
Names and address of hotels or persons with whom applicant intends to stay: Again if you want to link to your itinerary then just put the name a guest house in the area you said you are going to go to first. If you mentioned you were going to stay at a Japanese friends just put their name and address down, you are not going to be grilled about this.
Guarantor or reference in Japan: If you have put down a friend for the above then you can put the exact same details here, no problem. I put the name and address down of a Japanese friend whom I used to live with during my year abroad. After I talked to him later, he mentioned that he was never actually contacted or anything regarding my visa. For relationship I just put down friend, occupation office worker and nationality Japanese. If you don’t know anyone then you can just leave it blank no problem. Bam done.
In regards to the application form that is pretty much it. Rest of the questions are pretty straight forwards.
Now moving on to the personal history, resume or curriculum vitae typed on A4 paper. I just used an up to date copy of my CV at the time. In my case I had studied Japanese at university and had JLPT N1. However you do not need have a degree or any real Japanese language skills to get the visa. Just write about any job history, skills and hobbies. Make sure that it is easy to ready and not too long. Probably best to stick to a single side of A4
The itinerary is probably the hardest thing to write for the entire application. But saying that it should not take you too long and is definitely not something you need to sweat over. As the idea of the visa is to encourage travel and cultural understanding, this is the main topic we want to write about in our itinerary. We also want to touch on the topic of work (for the purpose of funding the above activities) and accommodation. Nothing has to be definite, such as an exact dormitory name or job application, but just enough to show that you have put some realistic thought into this entire trip.
A copy of my itinerary is here. As you can see I have highlighted the places I intend to go to as well as the activities I want to do there. I show that I have put some thought into where I plan to live and work. I even went as far to talk about accommodation prices and names, but you don’t actually need to be this detailed in your own itinerary if you don’t want to. Another thing you will notice is that I make it very clear that I intend to come back to the UK. That my main purpose is to travel and visit friends.
Of cause none of this needs to actually be true. In my case I did have a lot of friends, who had been or were in Japan as mentioned in my itinerary, but it is not like there is any way of checking it. There is no limit on the length but I say that one side of A4 is more than enough and if you split it in ‘periods’ it not only makes easier to read but also easier to write.
Next we have the personal statement. Here is the one I submitted. Essentially why Japan? Why do you want to spend a year of your life there? Chances are if you are considering applying for this visa then you have some kind of interest in Japan. It could be the history, literature, or language, whatever. Talk honestly about why you have that interest and what this year in Japan means to you. If possible link it to your itinerary. If you say the reason you are visiting Japan is because you love the history then you will probably want to mention visiting historical places in your itinerary, and vice versa. Even if everything on your itinerary isn’t true, I think it is best to talk honestly about why you like Japan and what got you interested in it in the first place, if nothing else it makes it a lot easier to right.
Don’t get me wrong we still need to pepper it with some key information, like you know the purpose is not to find a job but to travel etc. As you can see in my personal statement I make it extremely clear (just like I did in my itinerary) that I fully intend to come back to the UK. Finally the statement needs to fit on a single side of A4.
Bank Statements. Personally I had a lot of stress over this, not in regards to getting the funds into my account but trying to know how strict they were towards the definition of a ‘bank Statement’. I read up a lot about it on the internet and many sites mentioned that it needed to be on official headed paper from the bank. Went I went into my branch they just printed off my bank statement onto ordinary A4 paper, which was exactly the same as the online bank statement I had printed myself. When I explained it had to be on headed paper, they said I would have to ring the bank’s head office and get them to send me an official statement from there at a charge of £3. When I actually handed in my papers and talked to the person at the embassy they said the initial online bank statement I had printed myself was sufficient. Another friend I talked to also had no problem with the bank statement they printed from their bank’s website.
Also in regards to the balance. I personally worked in a box factory (longest 2 months of my life) to earn the money but I know people how just borrowed the money from their parents. In both cases I know of people who have done this and not been asked any questions and others that have needed to show proof that the money was actually theirs to use, and not there just for the purpose of reaching the required figure (which in most cases it is). For those who were asked questions they need to show some kind of signed statement from the person who transferred the money saying that it is indeed theirs and not a ‘loan’.
Right. So now that we have all the documents filled and everything we just need to submit that bad boy. The submission has to be in person, which is a real pain if you are working cause the embassy ‘s opening Hours are Monday – Friday, 9:30 – 16:30! Yeah sucks right. So I took a day off and went down on the mega bus. If like me, you are going to get them to send you the visa in the post then you will also need to take down a pre-paid recorded delivery envelope big enough for your passport to fit in.
Once you hand in the forms they will have a quick scan to make sure that everything is there and that there aren’t any obvious mistakes (bank balance not meeting the requirement etc.). The entire submitting process takes around 20 minutes. Once submitted processing of the application usually only takes one week and you can either go in person to collect or it will be posted if you supplied them with the pre-paid envelope.
Once issued you have one year to enter Japan, the dates are listed on the visa. The once you have entered Japan you visa will start from that date. You will be given your Resident Card at the airport which will list your period of stay and visa type etc . After that you have 90 days to register an address on the card at your local ward office. Before the visa was only single-entry permit, which meant if you left Japan anytime during your one year you had to make sure you got a re-entry stamp before leaving. However thanks to the new foreign registration system you can leave and re-enter Japan as many times as you like, no re-entry stamp needed. Happy days. Nice summary of the new system can be found here.
I hope this guide on how to apply for a Working Holiday Visa has been helpful. I know that I found the entire process pretty stressful. However all the people I know had no problems receiving the visa and I have yet to hear of anyone being rejected who meets the minimal requirements above. So just follow the general tips above and I am sure everything will go fine.
If you have any questions or want to clarify anything, then please feel free to get in contact with me.