Japan Implements New Immigration System for Initial Reopening

The Government of Japan has begun a phased approach to easing border and travel restrictions. Published on Friday, November 5, the changes went into effect at 10 am Monday, November 8.

Key Highlights for International Business Travelers and Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Holders
  • Fully vaccinated business travelers and COE holders may be able to travel to Japan and will be eligible for a reduced, three-day quarantine period.
  • Before applying for a short-term business visa or a long-term visa based on a COE, each traveler must secure a “Responsible Stakeholder” to sponsor them for entry to Japan. The “Responsible Stakeholder” is usually the inviting company in Japan. The Stakeholder must first seek approval from the relevant Japanese ministry. Following ministry approval, the “Responsible Stakeholder” will communicate directly with the traveler in order to proceed with applying for a business-related visa.
  • Currently recognized vaccines in Japan include the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

Non-residents seeking to travel for tourism, family visitation, or other non-business purposes are still not permitted to enter Japan under this policy.

What to Expect

Once a visa has been issued, business travelers will be required to comply with all entry requirements, including:

  • Conduct pre-travel COVID testing using methods approved by MOFA and MHLW 
  • Provide proof of vaccination upon entry into Japan
  • Complete COVID-19 testing at the airport
  • Provide proof of medical insurance while in Japan, sponsorship documents, a written pledge, and an approved activity plan
  • Self-quarantine for three days in a hotel or private residence, and
  • Complete additional COVID-19 testing after day three
Key Highlights for Returning Residents Re-Entering Japan After Business Travel

Fully vaccinated Japanese citizens and foreign residents of Japan who are re-entering Japan after business-related travel will be eligible for a reduced, three-day quarantine period.

Updated Travel Policy for Students, Technical Trainees, and Others Entering Japan

Under the new policy, international students, technical trainees, and certain new long-term residents may be allowed to enter Japan.

Like business travelers, the sponsoring “Responsible Stakeholder” will seek approval from the relevant ministry. Following ministry approval, the “Responsible Stakeholder” will communicate directly with the traveler to apply for the appropriate visa. Travelers will be required to comply with all testing and quarantine requirements.

Erickson Insights

The processing time of these applications at the respective government bureau will be about one week. Whether to approve the application is at the sole discretion of the case officer. The processing time for an entry visa at the consulate with the AMPA completion certificate will typically be about 2 weeks. Therefore, a person with a COE/planning a business trip to Japan on a TVV can be allowed to travel to Japan in about 3 weeks from the time of AMPA application, in the best-case scenario.

Details of the new policy are likely to change with little notice. Please contact your EIG attorneys if you require assistance with the Application for Ministry Pre-approval.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to share updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your EIG attorney.