Japanese Visas for American Citizens

Japan is one of the top tourist destinations of the world, attracting millions of tourists every year. The Japanese government has set a lofty goal of reaching 60 million visitors to the country by the year 2030.

People travel to Japan for a variety of reasons. Some people travel to go sightseeing, some to indulge in the local culture and yet others have business to attend to or need to make a trip to see friends and family. Each traveler has their own reasons for why they want to travel to Japan.

More than 1.5 million U.S. citizens visit Japan each year (2018), which represents almost 5% of the overall international travelers received by the island country. It is expected this figure increases even more with the introduction of the upcoming eVisa.

The Japanese government is currently developing an electronic visa authorization system which will allow travelers, including American citizens, to receive their Japanese visas online without having to resort to a local embassy or consulate. The plan is to have the eVisas rolled out after the Tokyo Olympics in April 2020.

Types of Japanese Visas for U.S. Travelers

The visas to Japan for U.S. citizens are divided into two main categories based on the traveler’s intended duration of stay in the country. The short-term visas offered by Japan are:

  • The Japanese tourist visa: it allows for a maximum stay of 90 days in the country either as a single-entry or double-entry visa. This Japan visa is appropriate for individuals interested in touring the country, attend short business endeavors or meet friends/family in Japan.
  • The Japanese business visa: created for business professionals arriving in the country for short-term business engagements. It can also be obtained either as a single- or double-entry visa contingent on the U.S. traveler’s intent to visit Japan twice within a 6-month period.
  • The Japanese transit visa: available for individuals transiting through Japan on their way to another country.

The long-term visas offered by the Japanese government are more specific in nature as they have been designed with specific circumstances in mind. These include:

  • General visa: allows individuals to stay in Japan from 3 months to up to 3 years. This type of visa requires a certificate of eligibility and allows travelers to participate in cultural activities.
  • Working visa: granted to individuals with particular skill sets or qualifications covering a number of different professions.
  • Specified visa: meant for the spouses and children of Japanese nationals. This type of visa can be valid from 6 months to up to 5 years and requires the appropriate documentation to be submitted along with the application proving Japanese ancestry.
  • Diplomatic visa: granted to individuals who engage in activities as part of a diplomatic mission, consular office or embassy or any supportive role affiliated with such. The maximum length of stay is determined by the diplomatic mission requesting such a visa on behalf of the individual. Appropriate documentation certifying the individual’s role in the diplomatic mission needs to be submitted along with the application.
  • Official visa: granted to businessmen, foreign governments or international organizations recognized by the Japanese government. The maximum allowable length of stay varies for this type of visa.

The Japanese eVisa for American Citizens

Once the Japanese government implements the new electronic visa authorization system, Americans will be able to apply for and obtain a Japanese visa online for short-term stays in Japan. It is designed for travelers seeking to engage in business, tourism and for meeting friends and family in the country.

To apply for the Japanese eVisa, Americans will have to fill out an online application with their personal, passport and travel details. A section of the application will require that the applicants to answer security questions related to past criminal history, immigration-related offences and drug offences.

Travelers are expected to answer these questions as truthfully as possible whilst ensuring that the information they provide on the form is accurate to the best of their knowledge. Erroneous or false information can negatively impact the traveler’s eVisa application, leading to travel delays and in some cases a visa denial at the discretion of the Japanese authorities.

Japan Visa Requirements for U.S. Citizens

Foreign nationals traveling to Japan must meet certain criteria for submitting a successful visa application. The following documentation will need to be submitted as part of the Japanese visa application process:

  • A valid passport with at least 2 blank pages and 6 months validity
  • A completed visa application form
  • A recent photo of the traveler taken against a white background
  • A secondary identification document in the form of a driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.
  • If the traveler is married, the marriage certificate will have to be submitted
  • Travel itinerary, including travel dates, places of accommodation in Japan during visit, intended port of entry, etc.

Travelers who have a Japanese sponsor/guarantor must also submit the following documentation with their application:

  • A letter from the sponsor/guarantor explaining the relationship between them and the traveler
  • Proof of the relationship between the traveler and the sponsor/guarantor
  • Sponsor/guarantor’s proof of sufficient income to cover the expenses of the traveler’s trip.

If travelers do not have a sponsor/guarantor, they need to submit their income tax returns and a recent bank certificate, so they can demonstrate they can cover the trip expenses.