Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Applying for a Japanese Work VISA

Applying for a Japanese work visa involves a trick any alchemist would be proud of: transmuting a CoE (Certificate of Eligibility) into a VISA (Very Impressive Script of Actuation).  Okay, visa isn't actually an acronym, but you do need a CoE before you can get a working visa for Japan.

Click 'read more' to unravel the secrets of the secrety things!

Certificate of Eligibility
Therefore, the process begins with acquiring a valid CoE.  This is easily done if you're sponsored by a company.  If you're looking for a way to get a CoE or work visa by yourself, this post isn't for you!  Any decent, reliable Japanese company will sponsor its employees in order for them to get their CoE.  If your company doesn't give you a CoE before you depart for Japan, take that as a sign something shady is going on.

Once you accept a job, you need only send a few things to your company.  If you're lucky, like Interac employees, the company will take care of everything and request only the materials they need:  the CoE application form, a signed offer of employment, a photocopy of your passport, a photocopy of your college diploma, your resume, and an official college transcript/original diploma/certified letter of graduation.  In a slightly unluckier case (ala GABA), you may be asked to write the petition letter to the Japanese government yourself.  Lame.

Now all you have to do is pop the materials into the oven, set it to 450°, and let it bake for several months. Here's one I prepared earlier. [Article continued below]

I don't know why the Japanese government blurred out all my information, but they did.
So what IS this thing, anyway?  The name is pretty self explanatory: it's a certificate which signifies your eligibility to work in Japan.  More importantly, it does not actually allow you to work in Japan, or even enter Japan with the intent to work.  Think of the CoE as an arcade token.  It's worthless until you trade it in, and the only prize you can buy with it is your work visa.

Work Visa
Depending on where you live, your experience will differ.  It's fairly consistent across the U.S, however.  With your CoE in hand, you must apply for a work visa to your nearest Japanese consulate.  For me, it was the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami.  You can apply for your visa in person, or mail the documents in.  In most cases, you will need to submit the following:

  • A valid Passport
    In the case of dual nationals, it must match the nationality on your CoE.  The work visa is attached inside your passport, so they need the actual booklet.
  • A completed Application Form No. 1-C
  • One passport style photograph
  • Certificate of Eligibility
  • If they lose your passport, they want to blame it on you.  But you have to sign anyway.
  • Visa Payment Fee
    Free for Americans.  For most others it is $34.
  • A pre-paid return envelope
    If you're mailing your documents in, or can't pick it up in person
  • Copy of your flight itinerary
    This is only required by the Miami embassy, as far as I know...
The entire process takes only a couple days.  It's extremely fast and the visa actually looks really great!  Notice the date of expiry?  That's fine--it means you have until that date to enter Japan.  It will remain valid for word for the duration of your stay (one year).  Do everything correctly, and you'll end up with a wonderful visa and (hopefully) a happier face than mine.

What a handsome fellow!