Two days ago I went to London with my youngest brother Dominic to apply for my Japanese student visa. I followed the same procedure as when I got my Working Holiday visa last year. I went on a National Express coach, which is much cheaper than the train, for only £11 return.
We met up with someone else from my course, Rob, who is also going to ICU for the next academic year, at Green Park tube station and then walked down to the Japanese Embassy on Piccadilly.
Our IDs were checked at the door, although my brother didn't have any but they still let him in. I suppose he didn't look too dangerous! We went into the visa section after being airport-style checked with metal detectors. We took tickets from the machine, and we were 529 and 530 - the next two numbers to be called! We sat down for two minutes and then Rob was called through to the windows, laid out like a bank. He was in there for about three minutes and then he came out. He was so fast I thought there must have been something wrong, but that was it! I was called in next and was served by the same British man who gave me my last visa. I told him so when he checked my passport and saw the stamp. I gave him the documents I'd brought.
To get a student visa you need:
- passport valid for the period of stay;
- completed application form (available from the Embassy) with 2"x2" photo attached;
- Certificate of Eligibility (this is the certificate the host University sends), and a photocopy of it;
- pre-paid self-addressed Royal Mail envelope (only if you want your passport and Certificate of Eligibility returned to you by post);
- fee, which is £6 for UK citizens.
The Embassy's website said that I also had to bring my official acceptance letter from ICU, but the man gave it back to me, so I'm not sure if he just needed to see it or if it wasn't necessary at all. My University also said that I needed to take a spare passport photo, but he gave that back to me too.
It was much easier and quicker to apply for the student visa than the working holiday, mainly because the Certificate of Eligibility means that you already have a guarantor, which in my case is ICU.
The student visa allows you to study, work and live in Japan for 15 months. Apparently it's just changed from a year so students can travel either side of their academic year, which works very well for me!
I should get the visa back in the post early next week so I'll be looking forward to that!