BUNAC | How to get a working holiday visa to work in Japan

BUNACer Rorie spent 4 and a half months exploring his way around Japan's brightly coloured cities with life and art, to further remote towns with rivers and valleys full of Japanese myths. He also worked at a ski resort in a French restaurant, where he practiced his skiing, speaking Japanese and met people from all over the world. If you want to work abroad in Japan on BUNAC's Work Japan programme, take heed of his advice - it'll help you leaps and bounds in your own adventure.

Rorie's Work Japan adventure

I was so excited to work and live in Japan. I did loads of research before I went - I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and see. The one thing I hadn't considered was how to get my visa, so here are my top tips of how to complete your visa paperwork. Don't worry if you have questions along the way - BUNAC will give you all the help you need. 

  • The first thing to do is make sure you meet the requirements! There is nothing worse than gathering all the right documents and filling in the right boxes, only to be rejected at the very last stage of an application because a minor mistake which could have been avoided if you'd done your research in the beginning. So if you are between the ages of 18-30, not had a Japanese working holiday visa before, and have a valid UK or Irish passport then you are good to go!
  • The first document I filled in was the initial working holiday visa application form. Once you’ve filled in all the self explanatory sections you’ll be asked to give the address of a hotel or persons you intend to stay in. I put the hostel I was staying in when I first arrived in Tokyo.
  • You’ll also be asked to outline your intended activities for the first 6 months of your stay. Don't worry if you don't have the exact info - travel plans can change later on, but it’s a good opportunity to look up different destinations in Japan and what events are going on at the time of year (e.g Sapporo in early February – because you intend to attend the globally recognised Snow festival). Be careful to mention that you do not already have organised work before entering; you must only suggest that you intend to look for work within a certain area. BUNAC will give you a template on how to fill this section of the application out, so don't hesitate to ask for help!
  • You will also have to write an A4 page on why you want to live and work in Japan. It must include how you intend to experience Japanese culture; a prime example would include (e.g being a keen amateur photographer looking forward to documenting my trip in Japan. I particularly enjoy nature photography and I believe that Japan offers the photographer unbeatable landscapes and subject matters). As long it’s culturally relevant and you’ve shown an interest in learning about the Japanese lifestyle then you should have no problems with writing this up!
  • Now the very last things you’ll need to get yourself ready with are your flight details and bank statements. If you have £2,500 in cleared funds in your account from the last three bank statements issued you will NOT need to purchase return flights. In the case that you have a minimum of £1,500 in cleared funds then you must have proof of an onward flight out of Japan upon application.
  • Make sure to keep a photocopy for every document you pass over! This will be very important for your own memory of what you have or have not done.
  • Once you’ve put all these documents together you are ready to make a visit to the embassy in London, Edinburgh or Dublin! As I am lucky enough to live in London it was an easy visit for me! The Japan embassy is located approximately a 5 minute walk away from Green Park tube station (which can be accessed by the Piccadilly line, Victoria Line or Jubilee line). Once you have the outstretched Japanese flag flying high over head that’s when you know you’ve reached your destination. The staff are super friendly, if they spot something wrong on your application they’ll let you know and tell you what you need amend, then you can reapply once you’ve made the changes. I forgot to photocopy one of my documents and instead of having to queue all over again, they held my documents while I went round the corner to a print shop to make the appropriate photocopies.

Overall, the whole process is nowhere near as daunting as it first may seem, in the end everyone wants you to explore this magnificent country. If you have half the experience that I did then you are in for a massive treat!

Can't wait to get your Work Japan adventure started? Start your application now and remember if you have any questions please contact the BUNAC team by emailing enquiries@bunac.org.uk or by calling on 0333 999 7516. 

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