Sunday, April 21, 2019

How To Apply for a Japan Visa (Filipinos Working in Saipan)

Disclaimer: This post is for Filipinos applying for a tourist visa in Saipan holding a Philippine passport. Rules may vary in other countries and other nationalities.

One of the main reason why most Filipinos are hesitant to travel to Japan is because of the need to apply for a visa. I used to be intimidated every time I hear the word 'visa' but now I just view it as a challenge. Yes it is bothersome and a hassle but there's no other way around it than to follow. My mantra has always been for as long as you provide all the necessary documents then there's nothing to worry about and your chances of getting a visa is relatively high.

The biggest difference between applying here in Saipan and in the Philippines is that you don't have to apply through an agency and therefore you don't have to pay for the processing fee. You still have to spend for the gas/taxi fare going to the embassy though. Nevertheless I think it is easier to apply here as I feel like you are talking one-on-one with the embassy themselves. In fact in the 4th times that I went back & forth in the consulate office, I was the ONLY applicant in there to the point that the guard and the staffs already knew me. 4th times because the 1st one was I need to pick up the list of all the required documents that I need to submit, 2nd was submission but there are a few revisions that I needed to make, 3rd was finalization & submission of all my documents and the 4th and last one was to pick up my passport with the approved visa. So in order to avoid this going back & forth in the embassy, read the required list below.

List of Japan Visa Requirements (Tourist/Transit Visa) in Saipan

1. APPLICATION FORM - The application form available at the office must be completed by typewriter or written legibly in print by the applicant. If the form is not properly completed, the applicant will not be accepted.

2. PICTURE (4.5cm x 4.5cm or 2in. x 2in.) - A single picture is required. Taken within the last six (6) months. Photo should be clear and identifiable. Background must be white or light gray color. No shadows. Do not staple.

3. PASSPORT - The passport must be valid for travel to Japan and the next country of destination. If passport does not have available page(s), we will NOT accept application or issue visa.

4. AIRLINE RESERVATION (Copy) - Presentation of a reservation from an accredited travel agency, commercial carrier e-ticket to the effect that onward passage from Japan has been booked. Ticket is not required as the visa application may be denied. 

5. HOTEL RESERVATION (Copy) - If an applicant is scheduled to stay for a few days in Japan, confirmation from an accredited travel agency or hotel that a reservation has been made. In case an applicant is staying with a relative or friend, their name and address should be mentioned on the application form, and an original guarantee and invitation letter explaining the relationship and reason for the visit, itinerary, and an income tax declaration of the inviter will be required. Other documents may be requested.

6. LEGAL STATUS - Presentation of legal status is required (Green Card holder, US Visa and CW Visa) and must submit copy with application form. Tourists and short-term business visa holders are not considered CNMI Residents.

7. LETTER FROM CNMI EMPLOYER - If the applicant is employed in the CNMI, a letter from the employer, addressed to the office is required. It should mention date from when the applicant has been employed, the reason for the trip and the dates of departure and return to CNMI. If the applicant is the business owner, a copy of the business license and the last BGR tax and receipt are required.

8. TRAVELLING EXPENSES - Evidence of sufficient travel funds to Japan including costs such as accommodation, meal, local transport, etc. in Japan must be presented. It should be original bank statements for the past three months, and should take into account the length of stay and the number of accompanying family members. If applicant is a company employee, he/she must also present a copy of last W-2 form or tax return. In cases which the expenses will be covered by other organization or individual, the organization representative or the individual must fill out the Letter of Guarantee for the applicant.

9. DETAILED ITINERARY - A detailed itinerary should be submitted, commencing with the date and flight entering Japan, name(s) and relationship of all travelers accompanying the applicant, places of stay, daily account of places to be visited and ending with the date, flight and next destination when leaving Japan.

Out of all the list of requirements, I think the biggest concern of most people is the bank certificate or how much money you own in your bank account. The answer is that: It depends. It will really just depends on how long you are going to stay in Japan. Your savings should be proportionate to the days of your stay. How? You can already make a rough estimate of how much you're going to spend when you are planning your itinerary so do plan well.

Personally, the hardest part for me was the planning stage of my itinerary. Well does it ever get easier?lol The key is to have a non-negotiable spots that you wanted to visit and stick with it and plan as early as possible. I think I spent 2 months planning my itinerary since Japan can be overwhelming with all the things it has to offer. From hotels, tourist spots, foods, clothes to secret nooks, trains, gadgets, the list goes on. Name it, they have it. If you can't find anything you want/need in Japan, it probably doesn't exist. I now understand why so many people kept on coming back to Japan.

Also, I often got asked how I booked my flights or what airline did I booked. Unfortunately promo fares no longer apply to me. I mean there are promos but it's not as cheap as what I was used to (Hello Cebu Pacific and AirAsia). Which is why I did not include my flight ticket expenses anymore. Let's just say it's double the amount of the flights from Manila. I do know that tickets can be as low as Php8,000+ for Manila-Osaka, Tokyo-Manila via Cebu Pacific once they suddenly drop a promo fares so watch out for that. But for the sake of transparency and for all the Filipinos living and working here in Saipan, I booked via Jeju Air from Saipan to Korea since they don't have a direct flight to Japan and they switch to another airline from Korea to Japan. Here's the catch though. Jeju Air has this unspoken rule that passengers should have a valid US Visa, valid Korean Visa or any other valid type of entry document. I was already on the check-in counter when the staff of Jeju Air told me about this because as luck would have it, my US Visa is already expired and so is my Korean Visa. I only have a Japan Visa which doesn't suffice their airline requirements. My only option was to rebooked my flight to another airline that they are affiliated with (see photos below).

Sleep deprived and barely functioning, I rebooked my flight since I don't have the energy to argue anymore. Sakit bes. See what I have to go through? The perks of holding a third-world country passport. But everything turns out well. Sometimes it's really just a question of how much you really wanted something or in this case it means literally lol Japan was worth every bucks. In fact it just become one of my favorite country. Who else is planning to go there next year for the much-awaited 2020 Olympics? :)

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