How to Get a Working Holiday Visa for Japan (UK Edition)
How to Get a Working Holiday Visa for Japan (UK Edition)
If you really want to maximise your experience in Japan,
I highly advise getting yourself a Working Holiday Visa.
This article will detail how to get the Working Holiday Visa for Japan
if you’re a Brit but the process is similar for many other European countries.
I’m sure you’ve checked out the website for the Embassy for Japan in the UK:
They list all the requirements for obtaining the Working Holiday Visa there.
Like me, however, you might be wondering just how in-depth you need to go
and how exactly to go about submitting your proposal.
That’s why I am here to help. I have personally gone through the process and was accepted.
I will outline everything here and you can get started on getting your Working Holiday Visa
and having the most fantastic time in Japan.
What is the Working Holiday Visa?
Every year 1000 lucky Brits will be permitted on the Working Holiday Scheme with Japan.
The idea is that this scheme will foster greater relationships
and cultural awareness between British people and Japanese people.
The visa allows you to stay for up to 1 year. In that time you can work.
In a nutshell: stay in beautiful Japan for up to 365 days, work for travel money or experience,
meet great Japanese people, immerse yourself in Japanese culture.
Prerequisites for the Working Holiday Visa
You must be British (resident of the UK) and you must be between the ages of 18-30.
Also, you can’t bring any children or spouses with you
(unless they are in possession of a Working Holiday Visa too).
Make sure you passport is valid (this is easy to overlook).
Make sure you have “reasonable funds” for your stay in Japan.
We will get into what “reasonable” means.
You also cannot have previously been issued a Working Holiday Visa for Japan.
You must also be in good health.
If that’s all clear, let’s move on to the next bit.
What you need
- Valid UK Passport
- One Completed Visa Application Form
You can pick this up at your nearest embassy, or you can download it here:
The form asks you to submit the port of entry into Japan and name of ship or airline.
Don’t worry if you don’t know it.
It also asks for names and addresses of hotels
and persons with whom the applicant intends to stay.
Again, if you don’t know it, don’t worry.
For both of these things, take a guess what airline,
port of entry, and hotel/person you will be staying with.
I put down that I was staying at the Okura Hotel
(fabulous place, highly recommended: http://www.hotelokura.co.jp/tokyo/)
even though I hadn’t yet booked a room and only intended on staying a week or so.
I also guessed that I would fly with British Airways and arrive in Narita.
It wouldn’t have made a difference if I had turned up in Osaka though.
The form asks for you to submit details of a guarantor or reference in Japan.
I made this the same as the name and address of employer.
We will talk about finding an employer in just a moment.
You can leave the guarantor and inviter in Japan blank if you can’t come up with anyone.
- One passport-sized photograph approx. 35mm x 45mm (taken within the last six months)
I made myself look nice for this photo.
I got a haircut and even wore a suit (even though you can’t see it in the photograph).
Perhaps this was overkill but I really wanted to get the Working Holiday Visa
and looking good does make a big difference.
- A personal history, resume or curriculum vitae typed on A4 paper
I submitted a CV here. I put a photograph (the same recent one that is required)
just like Japanese people do on their CVs.
Again, make sure you are looking clean and professional.
Then list all the skills you have that are relevant to the potential position you are applying for.
- A proposed itinerary for the whole stay in Japan (up to 12 months),
including details of prearranged employment, if any
Keep this short but comprehensive. A page will do.
The officials reading this will be looking for three things:
- Do you have a clear idea of what you are doing?
- Do you have the budget to be doing it?
- Why do you need a Working Holiday Visa? As opposed to just a Working Visa or a Holiday Visa
You want to show the officials that you know something about Japan
and you have plans to see the country.
You should also show them that you are planning to do some work
but you are not there solely for work.
And put a budget next to each item on the itinerary.
You do not have to stick to your itinerary once you are in Japan. Almost nobody does.
Here is what my proposed itinerary looked like:
February – March: Tourism and work in Tokyo
March – April: Tourism and work in Tokyo
April 1 – April 21: Tourism in Kyoto
April 21 – June: Tourism and work in Tokyo
June 1 – June 10: Tourism in Osaka
June 10 – June 20: Tourism in Okinawa
June 20 – August: Tourism and work in Tokyo
August 1 – August 15: Tourism in Hokkaido
August 15 – October: Tourism and work in Tokyo
October 1 – October 5: Tourism in Nara
October 5 – December: Tourism and work in Tokyo
What did I actually do? Never left Tokyo or Yokohama.
- A written reason for applying for a Working Holiday Visa typed on A4 paper
This doesn’t have to be long either. A page is good.
Tell them why you are so drawn to Japan.
Try to integrate your own personality and interests into the reason.
For example, I talked about the allure of the Japanese language and how I wished to study it.
I also talked about how much I loved food
and that I knew that Japan had some of the best food in the world.
Enthusiasm and flattery will go a long way here.
If you need some inspiration for why you might take a trip (or a whole year) to Japan,
check out 100 reasons to visit Japan (Japan is Awesome).
7. Either £2,500 in cleared funds (last 3 months bank statements must be shown)
Or £1,500 and a return or onward journey ticket or a receipt for such.
(Traveller’s cheques, credit cards and overdrafts are not acceptable as evidence of sufficient funds)
(In the case of a married couple applying for two visas,
the minimum amounts are £4,500 and £2,500 respectively.)
That should clear up the “reasonable funds” part.
I went to the embassy in Piccadilly. This one:
Look at that. How nice is that? You can make a real day out of it.
Say hello to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, stroll around St. James’s Park, pop into Hamleys.
This embassy is open between 9:00am to 6:00pm.
I advise you get there early.
Go to the counter, explain your business,
they will give you a ticket, and you will go through to a waiting room.
I waited for about 10 minutes and had someone take all my documents and my passport.
They might interview you (they didn’t ask me anything).
They told me to come back a week later and the visa was stapled into my passport.
You have to pay an application fee of 23GBP upon receiving your passport.
Make sure you have the exact cash, because they won’t have any change.
I think that the Japanese Working Holiday Visa is the most beautiful in the world.
Once you land in Japan, the clock starts ticking. You have 1 year!
They will also give you a handsome resident card
(which technically you should keep on you at all times).
Getting a Job in Japan
I can only tell you what I did and what worked for me.
I applied to be an English teacher in Japan.
I made a list of around 30 possible places I could teach.
I called them all up and interviewed with any that interested me and could accept me in Tokyo.
I had email correspondence with Berlitz, Gaba, and a few others.
For the guarantor or reference in Japan and the employer, I put down the people I was corresponding with at Berlitz.
You won’t be able to get a job over the phone (nor should you want to) but I recommend researching as much as possible
and emailing and calling people. I remember having to wait until late at night to ring up these places
and the only Japanese I knew was a badly pronounced ‘eigo ga wakarimasu ka?’
Once you’ve gone through the preliminary processes for whatever company you’re interested in,
you will likely be asked to contact them again and come for an in-person interview once you are in the country
(top tip: try to schedule any interview for at least 1 week after you land; the jet-lag is disorientating).
I hope this guide has helped you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them below
and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
This article was written by Ben :)