We’ve all heard the horror stories about getting a Japan Visa: some applications have taken six months or more, other applications have been lodged multiple times to no avail, and even some applications attached to a large stack of supporting documents but still no Visa.
Every Visa denial means a six-month wait before another application can be sent. All of this can get very frustrating and disheartening, especially for people who have been looking forward to their trips very much.
So, how did I end up applying for, and getting a Japan visa, in just three days? Here is what I did:
The first step was visiting the Visa section of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines website. I downloaded and printed out the form (PDF and DOC files are both available), as well as the checklist of the required documents. The printed application form must be filled out in block letters with black ink. You can also opt to just type in your details in the downloaded form, and then print it out in one go.
Checklist in hand, I tried to put together as many required documents as possible. I had bank certificates made, photocopied my latest Income Tax Return since I had to submit the originals, and had our company HR team make out a Certificate of Employment. I went to a professional photo studio to have pictures taken — very important since even a small error in the photo size can delay the approval of your application.
I also hunted down my old passports and very carefully stapled them to my newest one — I wanted the Japanese Consul’s office to see that I held several used Japan Visas as well as plenty of stamps from other ASEAN countries (used US, Australia, and Schengen Visas may also help). I also checked to make sure that my passport was valid for at least another six or seven months.
I went to my preferred travel agent (the Embassy has a list of accredited agencies here) early on a Monday morning to submit all my requirements; the Embassy does not accept walk-in applicants. Try to file your application on a Monday or a Tuesday, so that it gets processed by Wednesday — which is the day the Japanese Consul office stays closed, just to process and approve/deny Visa applications.
After a quick inspection of all the papers I submitted, the travel agent asked me to pay the processing fee, and then sent me on my way. Everything took less than thirty minutes, from start to finish. Early Thursday mornining, I got a call from the travel agent saying that my passport — with my approved Visa attached, was ready for pick-up at their office.
The entire process took a mere three business days from application to approval — easy, right?
For more tips, you can also read Tips on Obtaining a Japan Tourist Visa and Getting a Japan Tourist Visa: An FAQ for Filipinos. Good luck with your application!
Please note that this is a summary of my latest experience in applying for a Japanese visa. Mileage may vary with each individual.