It really took me some time to figure out how to apply for Japan transit visa. So I guess it worth to share my experience.
For those who need a visa to enter Japan, if you have a long wait for your next flight and want to have a tour in Tokyo during this time, you will need a shore pass or a transit visa.
A shore pass grant you the permission to stay in municipal of the air port for no more than 72 hours. It is something that you can apply at the airport. It is not a visa, just a permission that grant you the privilege to exit and stay around the airport. You need an air ticket to a third country and a hotel reservation. The hotel is not just any hotel. It has to be in the same municipal as the airport. While there is not a clear definition of a municipal, picking a hotel in Narita if your airport is NRA is your safest bet. You probably can choose hotels in Tokyo, even though by definition is probably not in the same municipal as Narita. Don’t choose hotels in Yokohama or in any other cities in Kanagawa Prefecture, because it is definitely too far away and it is very unlikely that the immigration will grant you a shore pass.
There is some ricks of deny of entry when you bet on the shore pass, because even if you have all the documents needed, you still need to have some luck and hope that your country of citizenship is not in a bad relationship with Japan at the time you travel. So if time permits, applying for a transit visa is wise.
A transit visa grants you more time to stay in Japan while taking a transit flight. It is said that it will grant you 15 days. The cost is $37 when I applied mine in NYC. The weird thing is that there is nowhere on the Japan embassy website that mention about transit visa, just like there is nowhere that mention about shore pass. But actually transit visa is just one kind of Temporary Visitor Visa. And you can find information about that on the Consulate-General website (http://www.ny.us.emb-japan.go.jp/en/d/03.html). It still doesn’t mention anything about transit there, but the form on that page (http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/j/download/VISA_APPLI.pdf) is what you can use for your application.
No appointment is needed for visa application.
The embassy of Japan in New York is allocated:
299 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10171 (between 48th and 49th Streets)
19th Floor: Main Office
18th Floor: Visa / Consular Service
18th Floor: Japan Information Center
They work 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Friday (except holidays).
They check the following documents for my application. Take my word, they are very serious following document when checking the materials:
1. The form
2. A photo taken within 6 months
They ask me what’s my status while staying in the United States and checked my visa and I-94 on the passport.
4. Air tickets
They not only checked my tickets for flying Hong Kong – Tokyo – Chicago – NYC, but also ask for my ticket for NYC – Hong Kong. I didn’t prepare that. But it is amazing that they accept emails. So I sent them a copy of my ticket using my smart phone right away.
5. Hotel reservation
Now that I am not relying on the shore pass, I can choose a hotel a little bit far away from the airport.
6. 3 recent bank statement
7. The most recent W-4
8. The most recent pay stub
9. A letter from my employer to prove that I am working there
10. Travel plan
They gave me a form to fill out the travel plan. It doesn’t need any detail at all, just places to visit for each day, accommodation and contact information.
Some say that the visa is hard to apply. I will say that it is easy if you prepare all your documents. Officials at the embassy are serious, but they are not there to make you suffer. In fact, they are very friendly and willing to help.
The process is faster than that I thought. I applied yesterday (Thursday), and will get the visa on next Tuesday. So that’s three business days in total.
I am looking forward to my great trip in Japan!
In case you missed anything and they asked you for additional information, they would call you and ask you to provide it in email.
I did get a call the second time I applied for the visa. They left a voice message for me as I wasn’t able to pick up the call. They didn’t say the email address I was supposed to send information to clearly. So if you get the same luck and are wondering what the email address is, it is: firstname.lastname@example.org
FYI: mofa stands for Ministry of Foreign Affairs.