UPDATE at the bottom of the article.
It’s December 28, 2020, and the only day immigration is open this week. It feels like every foreigner in the country is at Tokyo immigration today. I’ve been to immigration several times but never have so many people been in line. I arrived at 9:30 AM, and busloads of people were already waiting. I received my ticket and found that I had a cold two-hour wait ahead of me.
Funny how you realize you need your battery pack after you arrived at your destination.
The travel ban started today, preventing any country with the new COVID strain from coming to Japan.
After an hour train ride and a 20-minute bus ride, I was ready to get into the warm building. The problem was that I had a two-hour wait standing in the cold in between.
Today is the only day this week immigration is open. The National Holiday begins tomorrow December 29th through January 3rd. It’s a well-deserved rest for workers who help millions of foreigners each year.
My Time has Come
My time finally came to get in line to enter the building, and I was ready. I was cold, and my legs were stiff and cramped. The staff checks and rechecks your card to make sure you’re in the correct line at the proper time. This process keeps entry to the building fair for everyone and helps prevent the spread of COVID.
At 11:45, the line moves, and before entering the building, all people are checked with metal detectors, and their bags are checked.
Inside Tokyo Immagration
Once inside, the guard motioned to put alcohol on my hands as a COVID precaution. Covid is out of control in Tokyo, so I happily comply.
I know where to go because I come here often. The line to the temporary visa counter is incredibly long, adding to the already long wait time. With the steady increase in Japan’s foreign population, I would think that the government would build additional buildings to handle more people.
My hopeful plan is that everyone is so busy that the immigration workers will approve anything.
At noon the person at the counter looks over my paperwork and then gives me more paperwork to fill out. I need to request another work visa. My number is 552, and the number on the digital display is 538. At this point, I was happy to sit down and wait. The only issue was there is no heat.
At 1:00 pm, the count was 545, so I still had a long wait. I was hopeful that my number would come up before 2:00 PM.
At 1:45, I was next in line. With no heat in the building, I was ready to get this over with and relax in a warm place. Little did I know I would wait another half hour.
At the Counter
At the counter, the immigration person did a review of my paperwork. After explaining my situation to the immigration person, they consulted their boss while I continued to wait. I’m not sure if they talked with anyone or just took a break to make it look like they did.
Asked to Leave
Upon their return, they let me know that my request for a visa extension is denied. They said my case is very complex, but as long as I can book a flight to the Philippines, I can leave Japan.
I guess I’ll need to book a flight and be refused boarding again before they will extend. I don’t receive any refunds, so staying in Japan is getting expensive. Sure they gave me a work visa, but absolutely no Japanese company will hire someone with a one-month work visa.
Read about my last attempt to leave Japan here.
The Philippines has issued a travel ban to 20 countries that have the new COVID strain. These countries include Japan. The ban is until January 15th but is expected to be extended. If the ban is extended, I will return to immigration for a three or six-month extension.
In the meantime, I still need to pack everything and give one month’s notice that I am leaving my apartment. If the travel ban is extended and I remain in Japan, I’ll have to find a place to live. That’s not an easy thing to do in Japan. I’m not exactly sure what the future holds, but one thing is certain…COVID has got to go.
Do you have a story about your stay in Japan? Share your story in the comment section below.
Do you have questions about visa extension or work visa. Please ask your questions in the comment section below.