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Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002
Can tourists get themselves working visas?
There is a Japanese saying that goes "when you stand in front of the lighthouse you often miss the light."
Being in Japan, we often miss all the blessings and the "light" and can only see all that is bad. It is good to leave once in a while and step back and see the "lighthouse." For all its faults, we are very lucky in a world of strife and war to live in a place of peace and freedom.
Going into airport after airport all I could think of was getting back "home" where things are -- even with all their problems -- so peaceful.
Types of visa
"Dear Lifelines, I entered Japan as a tourist but really intend to work. As we all know tourists cannot work without obtaining a proper visa. What should I do to work legally?" -- Confidential in Japan
Dear Confidential in Japan: For those coming to Japan as "tourists," there are broadly two types -- regular visa holder, and those who are part of the "visa waiver program."
Since you don't say in your letter which type you are, it is hard to tell, but most likely you are part of the "visa waiver" program.
There is fundamental difference in these two.
For the first type of tourist, you have to go to a Japanese Embassy or Consulate abroad and apply for a visa, which is put into your passport. The second type applies to people from most of the EU, the U.S. and some others countries, and you do not need a visa to come to Japan.
The problem comes when you want to stay longer. For the regular visa, you can simply put together the necessary paperwork to have your visa changed and this can usually be done in Japan.
For the Visa Waiver program, though, it is just as it says a "visa waiver," Since you do not have a visa to begin with, it cannot be extended or changed. You need to leave the country before your period of stay expires and apply for a visa in your home country.
But honne and tatemae circumstances, that is, the official line and what's actually possible, apply here too.
You can arrange a visa while in Japan, even if you came here on a "waived" visa.
Make sure you go through a gyosei shoshi, which is the equivalent of an Immigration Lawyer. They can work wonders.
Most of all, make sure whatever you do you do it before your "period of stay" expires.
Let's hear from you, the reader. What experiences have you had with immigration? Have you ever been able to have a "visa waiver" changed to a regular visa in Japan? Let us know so we can pass the info on.
On the subject of government statistics (Lifelines -- Nov. 7), Freedom Lohr suggests this Web site: www.jinjapan.org/stat/category_09.html -- Many thanks for this, Freedom.
Finding a tutor
"Dear Lifelines, My friend has a son who graduated from an alternative school, is rather shy and needs a tutor to help with his studies. The family lives near Tanashi in Tokyo." -- Makoto in Tokyo
Dear Makoto in Tokyo: There are many places to go for tutors, but, being that he lives in Tanashi, I can't think of a better place than the wonderful school I went to from the first to twelfth grade -- The Christian Academy in Japan, which is just a few minutes from Tanashi.
In fact, as a student there I used to tutor kids too. I have fond memories of my wonderful years growing up in Japan and going to CAJ.
I'm sure the good people there will be happy to help you find someone who can help. Look up www.caj.or.jp. The headmaster is Mr. John Nelson -- they don't come any better. Please tell them "hi" from me.
Can't find someone who does hair right? Check out www.yspark.co.jp. They have specialized in non-Japanese hair for years and will do your hair for free if you model for them.
Urgently need a cheap airline ticket? Look up David at www.yourairfare.com
Looking for a cheap office in downtown Tokyo? Call Dermot at 5772-6442. They're moving.
Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: firstname.lastname@example.org