Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to apply for a Japan visa (for Filipinos)?

A 15-day Japan visa for Filipinos is free or gratis. Apparently for us Philippine passport holders, Japan is not visa-free. Not yet.

For the longest time, I've been wishing to visit Japan. My 7-week study-tour in Gandhi Schools-Korea was already a foot in the door, Japan being just an overnight boat ride from Busan to Fukuoka or 1.5 hour flight from Incheon to Osaka. So once I got my South Korean Visa, I wasted no time in applying for the Japan Visa.

With barely two weeks before my scheduled departure from Cebu to Incheon, it was a race against time!

Despite the Japan visa being free, I still need to pay for processing by an accredited travel agency. More info below. Anyway, after scouring the internet and burning the phone lines for the best value deal, I picked out a Cebu-based accredited travel agency that charges only Php1,200.00. For a complete list of Japan Embassy accredited travel agencies, click here. The agent said it normally takes a week or two to get the passport back and considering my schedule, she advised me to submit my application ASAP. Panic mode! (note: effective July 2007, all Japan Visa applications in the Philippines are now coursed through accredited travel agencies in Manila, Cebu and Davao except for special cases indicated on this link)

Since I live in Dumaguete and my departure date was inching closer, she advised me to directly send my documents to their Manila office through a courier. I heaved a sigh of relief. It sure did save me time and money but not the stress in beating the departure date. Within two days, I submitted my complete application documents to Friendship Tours in Dusit Hotel Makati through LBC, waiting with bated breath every time I keyed in the tracking number.

Here is the list of requirements (all original copies):
1. Valid Passport. My old passport that has all the stamps from my previous travels is attached.
2. Visa Application Form. Since it is in pdf form, I filled out the form using the computer and printed it.
3. Standard Photo for Japan Visa
4. Birth Certificate (NSO Authenticated). I got mine in less than 40 minutes at NSO Dumaguete.
5. Daily Schedule. The form in English I got from the web.
6. Bank Certificate (I maintain a travel fund passbook savings account where half of my pay check automatically goes to the passbook account). I paid Php250 for the bank certificate that contains the total savings, average daily balance and contact information of the bank officer for verification purposes by the embassy.
7. Income Tax Return (form 2316)
EXTRA. Extra! 
8. Though it was not on the list, I included a Certificate of Employment and Certificate of Allowed Leave of Absence to show my ties to the Philippines thereby increasing the chances of getting the visa. The documents had my job title with my annual salary, bonuses and allowances plus my number of years in the company (6 years total) and the duration of my allowed leave of absence, signed by my boss with her contact email and number.

After 4 days, my travel agent called. I got the Japan Visa! The torture was in the waiting for the return of my passport! I only had three days before my flight schedule! And she couldn't send my passport back unless I wired the Php1,200 processing fee. Lesson: with a tight schedule, send the payment together with all the application documents because whether you get the visa or not you will still pay the same amount.

A day before my scheduled flight, my passport arrived.

So why Japan? I love anything and everything Japanese. I have always drawn out inspiration from Japanese aesthetics. Take for example wabisabi or the beauty in imperfection and impermanence. Ikibana and origami. The economy of words and images in my poems are greatly influenced by Basho's haikus. The architect Tadao Ando is my design god. I grew up with Voltes V and Astroboy! To drive my point home, yes, I am a Japanophile! 

With my Japan visa, it's finally Ohayu gozaimasu Japan! Hello, Ippudo Ramen!

1 comment:

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