Certificate of Eligibility

Yesterday, I received the final document I needed from Japan in order to apply for my visa: the Certificate of Eligibility. I made a collage of it above so that I could block out the sensitive parts of the document. But that’s basically what it looks like. On that note, I guess now is as good a time as any to explain the process of how I got to this point.

Canadian Citizens of course do not need to get a visa ahead of time to go to Japan. I’ve officially entered Japan like 5 times before. And each time you can get your visa right at the airport when you land. But of course, this tourist visa is only good for 90 days. And as with any other country in the world, you need to apply for a visa ahead of time to stay longer.

From what I understand this process is basically the same whether you are going to Japan to work or to study. The only difference is the “Working Holiday Visa” which the Japanese Government gives Canadians (and certain other countries… mostly Commonwealth countries). That is a different process and it doesn’t require the main requirement that a Working/Study visa requires: a sponsor. The sponsor is obviously the company hiring you are that you are going to for school.

Once you have a sponsor (in my case, it’s Trinity Grace Church in Osakasayama-shi) they need to apply to the government on your behalf. This basically validates the offer of employment or enrolment that they’ve given you. To get this, Trinity sent me two copies of my work contract. I kept one and sent the other one back along with a few other documents. I forget now exactly what I sent back, but for sure one of them was a passport photo. That was a little bit confusing because the requirements there are different from the Visa requirements. Thankfully my sponsors gave me very specific instructions on what I needed to get.

Anyway, I sent this back to Trinity, and they filled the paper work with the government. And then… we waited. As with any bureaucracy it took time for the government to respond to Trinity. About 6 weeks in, I started getting concerned and researched a little bit on the process, and from that research I learned it takes about 6 weeks to 12 weeks for the Certificate to be granted. I read stories from different people, some of whom received theirs within weeks, while others waited the full three months. I was part of the latter group. I imagine it was on the longer end of the spectrum because Trinity Church is such a small company, unlike the large Eikawas (English schools) who bring in dozens of new hires each season.

Also there could be the category of employment I was given. If you’ll notice on the middle image, under “profession or occupation” is the Japanese word “牧師”, or “Bokushi”. This means “Pastor”. Hehe, I dunno why I find that amusing. But it’s a heavy responsibility.

Anyway, as I mentioned it took three months. But I have the Certificate of Eligibility. Now I just need to go to Calgary to the Japanese Consulate, to get the actual visa. From what I’ve read so far, I potentially need to go twice… The first time to apply, but then I might have to leave my passport for the visa to be processed, and come back a week later. Why is that an issue some of you may ask? I live in Alberta! Uhuh, yes. Alberta is long. And Fort McMurray is on the north side of Alberta, while Calgary is on the south side… It takes about 8 hours to drive.

BUT! Thankfully, I’ve got all these Aeroplan miles that I’ve accumulated over the years I’ve lived here in Fort McMurray. So I’m actually going to fly. I’m praying that the trip will go smoothly!

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