Japan Reopens to Foreign Travelers, with Conditions

July 27, 2022

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan was one of the most open destinations for foreign travelers, with passport holders from nearly 70 countries enjoying visa-free entry to the Asian Pacific nation. But as the pandemic gripped the world, Japan shut its doors to outside visitors, going so far as to even keep foreign tourists from attending the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. The good news for travelers is that Japan is beginning to reopen. But that process comes with conditions.

For now, visa-free travel to Japan has been suspended. That means any foreign national planning to travel to Japan will need to apply for a visa. And the number of total entries to Japan is being limited. Both short- and long-term visas are being processed for business travelers and students.

Japan is currently offering four types of work visas:

1) an Engineers or Specialists in Humanities or International Services category, which requires an employment contract directly with a Japanese entity;

2) a Business Manager category for experienced managers employed with a Japanese company, or an individual launching a business in Japan;

3) a work visa for intra-company transferees; and

4) a highly skilled professional visa for qualifying individuals based on a points system. Long-term visas for students and technical trainees are also being processed.

Individuals hoping to visit Japan for leisure will find their options are even more limited. As of June 2022, Japan is issuing some tourist visas, but only to individuals visiting Japan as part of a tour group with a fixed and pre-approved itinerary.

Furthermore, Japan has instituted a ranking system of foreign countries with Red indicating countries with the highest potential for COVID infection, Yellow for moderate COVID risk, and Blue for countries with a low COVID risk. A PCR test taken less than 72 hours before departure is required for all travelers. Upon arrival, travelers from Red countries will also need to test again and perform a 3-day quarantine at a registered facility; visitors from Yellow countries will have to test and quarantine at home for three days (or for seven days if they do not test). Visitors from Blue countries have no mandatory testing or quarantine requirement.

Though it is expected Japan will eventually reinstate their visa-waiver policies with some foreign nations, the visa requirements and COVID restrictions are in place for all visitors at this time. Newland Chase will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they are available. If your plans take you to Japan, and you would like assistance in navigating the entry requirements, contact your Client Services Manager today. Don’t have one? Contact us. We’re here to help make your journey a smooth one.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.