Japan and UK to increase number of Working Holiday Visas

26th November 2023

Japan and UK to increase number of Working Holiday Visas

photo by  Giuseppe Milo 

Working holiday visas are fantastic. It was what I used to decide that I didn't want to just holiday in Japan, I wanted to properly live there for a number of years as an English teacher. When researching it online, I was advised to call ahead as there were only so many given out each year. It was already September, and I thought my chance might have passed me by. I rang the embassy and asked if I could still apply for one, the person on the other end seemed totally bewildered by the question.

'Of course!' 

' I had read online that only a limited number are given out each year.'

' Well, that's true... But you've nothing to worry about.'


The working holiday visa lasts one year from the date of issue. As the embassy website states, "This programme is NOT designed for persons who mainly intend to work. The applicant's primary purpose of stay should be to "holiday" in Japan. Those who intend primarily to work cannot apply for this visa." It is the perfect way to test if living in Japan is right for you. You can visit friends or travel around the country for far longer than if you came as just a tourist. You are allowed to work, as the name suggests, but there is an element of trust that you will not be working full-time. When I used the visa, there was a legal limit of 28 hours a week, meaning only part-time work was allowed. This is still the case for student visas. 


When I applied, only 1,000 were given out a year. Next year the number is due to increase to 6,000.


The same is true in the opposite direction. A potential 6,000 working holiday visas will be given out to Japanese people wanting to live and work in the UK. Previously the maximum had been 1,500. 


In order to qualify for the visa, you need to show the embassy or consulate your UK passport, CV, an outline of intended activities, a written reason for applying and have either £2,500 in cleared funds or £1,500 and a plane ticket. You also need to be between 18 to 30 years old. 


From my experience, the outline of activities was important, but the staff mostly looked at my written reason for going. My future wife was a JET, and I applied to go live with her. They were pleased at the romance of it and excited for me to be with the woman I loved.


I spoke to another young man at the time who had just intended to travel to meet a friend and had a 6-month contract to work at a Kyoto English school. He was also successful in his application. 


At the recent Tokyo G7 Foreign Ministers meeting, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly signed a memorandum confirming the visa expansion. This had been planned out in May at the Hiroshima Group Seven summit, where an effort was made to strengthen international ties.


We could potentially have more Japanese people temporarily working and travelling in the UK. For anyone who misses our fellow island nation, this might be the chance for an extended holiday or a quick dip back into the world of English teaching. I'm not sure if this will cause a noticeable difference in population numbers, but for those few who do make the journey, it will be a pivotal moment in their lives. 


You can find out more about the visa here


by Alfie Blincowe

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