28 December 2013

How to Get a Japanese Working Holiday Visa

(Written for a working holiday visa I got in November 2012, from the UK)

Just over a year ago I got offered a job with the company Booboo Ski to work in a Japanese ski resort. To be able to work with the company, and in any job in Japan you need either a working visa or a working holiday visa. As working visas can be difficult to get, your best bet is to get a working holiday visa which is available to a lot of nationalities under 30.
From what other friends have told me from Australia, places in Europe and America, the ways to get a working holiday visa for Japan are very similar to the UK. Once I received a job offer from Booboo Ski I was told to get a working holiday visa, which led me to research what I needed to do. 

If you are a British citizen you have to go to the Japanese embassy in person. There are two in the UK, and you don’t get a choice. If you live quite far north then you have to go to Edinburgh, otherwise your main embassy is in central London, and easy to find. To apply for a Japanese working holiday visa you need several documents:

  • CV (resume, curriculum vitae, whatever you call it)
  • Completed working holiday visa application form which is available from the embassy website
  • Six month itinerary of what you may do in Japan
  • Letter stating why you want a Japanese working holiday visa
  • Two passport photos
  • Three months of bank statements showing you have at least £2000 in our account
  • Passport
C.V - The CV is pretty explanatory. I just used my regular CV but twigged the interests section and put I really liked languages and Japan.

Application form - The application form will ask for your accommodation in Japan, I just put down a random hostel, one which I did happen to stay in, so don’t worry if you don’t have a proper address, just find any hostel in the first city you will be in.

Six month itinerary - This is the trickiest part but it's not difficult. Even though I had received a job offer from Booboo Ski, in order to get a working holiday visa you have to say you don’t have a job. I think the logic is that you can’t possible have a job because you haven’t been given a visa yet. Therefore your six month itinerary should state sentences such as “I might look for restaurant work in Tokyo”, “I may research English teaching jobs in Osaka.” I laid out my six month itinerary on A4 paper in a table format and in each row put something like: “December – January = Tokyo = I want to visit the various temples in Tokyo and the manga cafes, I may look for restaurant work whilst I am here.” 
Don’t go into too much detail, just a few sentences on a few places. I think I labelled five altogether (Tokyo, Hakuba, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara) all saying similar things such as “I want to go here for the culture, for the sightseeing, and I may look for work”, I’d also recommend avoiding putting that you’re looking for bar or club work, just stick to restaurants. Also, you can’t say you will look for a full time job as this is not allowed with working holiday visas.

Letter explaining why you want a working holiday visa - This should be a brief A4 piece stating why you want to go to Japan. For me I pretty much repeated what I put in my six month itinerary, but obviously in a letter format with fluid sentences. Just exaggerate how much you want to see Japanese culture, and how you want to learn the language.

Bank details - At the time I moved money from my savings into my current bank account and when I got to the embassy they asked where this random £2000 had come from. So then I had to go to my savings bank and ask for a statement. So if you have moved some money around try and show where it’s come from.

Once you have all of this information just go to the Japanese embassy and you will take a ticket from the machine and wait until they call your number out. Luckily I only waited 10 minutes, and I went on a random Thursday in November. They will call you to a desk, look through your information and say come back in a week. I wasn’t sure if they would phone or email me to say whether or not my visa was successful, so I phoned them and they said I just had to come into the embassy to find out. So about 10 days after I handed my application in, I went with my receipt number and they handed me back my passport with a working holiday visa inside. I paid £25 and wa la, one working holiday visa received. A British working holiday visa lasts for one year and cannot be extended, unlike countries such as Australia which last for six months but can be extended for eighteen months altogether. You can only get one working holiday visa in your life, unless you have some really good reason for another, which I’m unsure about. I hope this guide helps, feel free to add any extra details.

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