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It’s time to start thinking about leaving Japan, perhaps. Not because I want to, but because I might have to. I’ve been here 66 days today and my visa expires in just over three weeks. Immigration policy is a complicated beast, often at the same time highly bureaucratic and yet subject to the whims of whoever happens to be sitting behind the desk that day. On the advice of our nearest office I have written a letter detailing why I would like to remain in the country and how I will support myself seeing as how I’m not allowed to earn any money.

As a UK passport holder I am eligible for a six month visa any way so I shall just put on my best, most English-looking face, start speaking like the Queen and hope it lets me sail right through. I have strolled oh-so-nonchalently through customs all over the world, sweating on the inside because of my lack of onward ticket or lack of available funds or lack of address, and been waved on due to my beaming smile and my wonderful passport. Neil on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. US passport holders do not have the option of a six month visa so the immigration official might be a little harder to convince of the necessity of an extension. I’ll prepare myself for a well placed tear or two just to help oil the wheels.

These letters are now translated into Japanese and are clutched in my hot little hand. Now to get all the way to Morioka …


About Jess UK

Fell in love with the crazy, inspiring, all-or-nothing world of disaster response and the wonderfully ridiculous, hard-working people who are drawn to it. Currently working in the Philippines as part of the recovery efforts after Typhoon Washi/Sendong! Want to know more? Check out disasterchasers.wordpress.com.


3 thoughts on “Deadline

  1. Jess – some advice about dealing with the immigration here. Firstly “keep calm and move along” comes to mind, The queen said so during the war. While I have never been to the Morioka Office, the immigration office is noted for being rather cold. It is probably best to put in your application in without any show. Being also that you have to remember and many of us have been told “This is not your disaster”. Which is true to an extent, but usually the office processes the extension based on what is on the paper or any letter that you may have. Since you are from the UK, most likely you can get the extension as a visitor so long as nothing indicates you are making any sort of profit. Most Airline tickets are digital, proof is rarely asked unless one calls attention to it. For US passport holders there is no such extension. The system works much like everything here, everything must fit into the box. When I first moved here I applied for an emergency extension. The lady almost threw the paper at me claiming it was for EMERGENCIES only to the person such as hospitalization, so unfortunately, aside from leaving the island, there isnt much in the way of an extension, but one can always submit the form, but I would not let on anything about onward tickets, lack of and I probably would not try for sympathy as if they sympathize, they will do so by the written information on the form they are given. An explanation of what you are doing is probably sufficient. Too much information could lead to questions you might not be prepared to answer. Be careful and quiet, put on your best face of confidence and leave the rest to some higher power. For the UK extension it should not be that hard. For the American one, really good luck on that one and hope for the best.

    Posted by Chris Noland | June 20, 2011, 7:53 pm

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