Working Holiday Visa
The day I learned of the Working Holiday Visa and that I fulfilled the criteria which made it an actual possibility changed my life considerably, because I knew I had to apply. For those that don’t know, the Working Holiday Visa program is an agreement between certain countries that allows for people age 18 – 30 to visit, live and work in the desired country for one year. It is meant as a way of cultural exchange with the permission to work as way to cover the travelling costs. It is not meant for people just looking to work in a different country for one year, but nobody really checks up on what you do after you enter, though it's good to keep it in mind when applying. Once you enter the country, you’ll get a residence card that gives you the same status as a long-term resident. As this site is dedicated to Japanese, the following countries have this program with Japan: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. If you live in one of these countries and are between the age 18 – 30 you can apply. Keep in mind that the requirements are a little bit different from country to country, therefor my information is area specific, but in general what you need is:
- You need to be fluent in either Japanese or English.
- You need a foreign travel health insurance that covers the entire year.
- You need to have already booked a flight (they want to see the ticket). In my case I only needed to show a one-way ticket, but that requires a greater amount of money as proof.
- You need a proof your finances, they want to see that you have at least the amount of 400.000￥in your bank account to prove that you can stay afloat and pay for your ticket back. You need less money in your bank account if you bought a two-way ticket. You don't need to have actual Yen in your Bank account, just an amount of money that equals the value in Yen.
- You need a passport.
- You need the filled out application form.
- You need an up to date picture of yourself, up to date means not older than six months.
- You need a résumé.
- You need to fill out a plan of what you want to do in Japan. Imagine what you would do in Japan in one year with unlimited funds. The embassy of Japan actually gave me that definition on how to fill out the travel plan.
- You need a formless letter, not more than one paper, explaining why you want to participate in the Working Holiday Visa program.
- The application needs to be handed in, in person. They don’t except it via Email or postal service, you really have to go to the embassy or a general consulate yourself at least twice. Once to apply and once to get your papers if.
As I said different countries vary a bit with these requirements, but in general that’s what you can expect.
The embassy itself has no limit on how many Visa they can grant, it’s completely up to them, which raises the question why they don't just hand these things out to everyone who wants them and it's because they want to vet certain people that the Government of Japan doesn't want. The people they want to vet out fall into five categories:
- Impulse applicants that just want to do this because they feel like it, but obviously haven’t thought it through.
- People that just want to visit Japan to earn money.
- People who don't have money and couldn't finance the trip.
- People that just want to use the visa to disappear in into Japan. Which is kind of ridiculous in my eyes, because that’s completely impossible if you can’t speak Japanese and if you can you could just apply for a working permit.
- Anyone looking to work in the entertainment industry or to put it a bit more bluntly: prostitutes.
I found it most helpful to keep in mind what the Japanese Government didn’t want when I wrote the motivation letter and the travel plan in order to hit right tone and it obviously worked, I didn’t even had to do the interview – sometimes you have to do an interview at the embassy apparently.
So keep these groups of people in mind and make an honest attempt of looking like the opposite. A good, valid reason for applying is important. A good reason would for example be to learn the language, see the country and experience the culture. If you can reinforce these points with your travel plan, motivation letter and possibly during the interview than you have good chances. But don't go to far, definitely make sure to point out that you intend to go back after the working holiday. Do not mention in anyway that you are looking to or thinking about actually living in Japan. While this is certainly an option with this kind of visa, mentioning it while applying falls into the category four of people they don't want. Japan has very strict rules of immigration, it's an extremely safe and friendly country, but also a very homogeneous culture where there are under 1% foreigners (not counting tourists) and the strict rules regarding immigration are the reason for that.
So if you are looking to go to see for yourself everything that the Land of the Rising Sun offers, while also being allowed to work as you please and you fulfil these requirements, give them a valid reason while showing that you are a nice guy or girl then there is nothing standing in your way.