Govt to start online system for obtaining visas for foreigners

The government plans to launch a special website by the end of the week that allows the submission of required forms online for foreigners newly entering the country.

The move is designed to facilitate the pre-arrival procedures when nonresident foreigners are readmitted after border control measures implemented in response to the omicron variant surge are relaxed from March 1.

The aim is to reduce the burden on users through a form submission system that allows hosts or others responsible for the new arrivals to input information about them and other details.

With the easing of border control measures, the government is opening the country back up to non-tourist visitors such as foreign businesspeople and students. Businesses, schools or others that will be accepting the new arrivals will input their name, contact information, passport numbers and the person responsible for them on the website and submit the form to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. By electronically signing a written pledge, the required forms for visa issuance will be issued online.

The written pledge is demanded because supervision of the new arrival by the person in charge of hosting them is a criteria for the visa. In the pledge, the host promises to secure a hotel or other quarantine facility for the visitor upon entry, monitor their health while in quarantine, and to contact a medical institution if they are found to be infected.

Last November, the government decided to allow the entry of some short-term and new arrivals, but that was before the first confirmation of the omicron variant. At that time, it was necessary for hosts to submit itineraries to and obtain approval from the relevant authorities.

After business circles criticized the procedure for being complicated, the government decided to do away with the preliminary screening and introduce the form submission system instead. The government also plans to set up a call center to handle inquiries about the procedure.