Is a visa required to work or visit Japan?

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A short stay in Japan for tourism purposes usually will not require a visa. As of 2013 Japan had agreements with 66 countries to waive the visa requirements to stay in Japan under certain conditions. A foreign national arriving in Japan as part of the visa waiver program for touring or business is limited in the length of time they are allowed to spend in Japan depending on their country of origin. Citizens of most countries on the list can stay in Japan for up to 3 months, but citizens of certain countries, such as Germany and Mexico can stay in Japan for up to 6 months. On the other hand, citizens of some countries are restricted to shorter visits under the visa waiver program. Citizens of Thailand are only allowed to stay for 15 days.

Working in Japan for income requires that the foreign national obtain a visa. Japanese visas are granted by the Japanese Government and are only issued at Japanese embassies or consulates. Therefore, for the most part, a new visa cannot be acquired after arriving in Japan. A Japanese visa will not give permission to enter Japan, which must be obtained separately from Japanese immigration authorities.

Final landing permission for any foreign national entering Japan is granted by the immigration officers at the point of entry into Japan (either at an airport or seaport). The visa serves as a recommendation to the immigration officer to grant landing permission but the immigration officer will also check the validity of the foreign national’s passport, length of stay, purpose for entering Japan and all of the other conditions outlined in the Immigration Control Act. If all these conditions are met, the immigration office will grant the foreign national permission to enter Japan.

If you have any questions about visas in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.