Good morning, passengers. This is your startup supporter speaking. First I’d like to welcome everyone to Shibuya. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 33.21m. The weather looks good and we are expecting you to land in Shibuya approximately three month later.
You are all curious when you can land Shibuya to start a business.
Immigration procedures all over the world changed because of covid-19, and I know you are all tempting to fly into Shibuya as soon as the borders open!
Realistically when can you land Shibuya from Haneda or Narita Airport?
The State of Emergency ends on the 21st of March.
The Government of Japan just decided to end the state of emergency on the 21st of March, 2021.
Nobody can travel freely and basically all the borders are closed during the emergency period, but the government might decide to open up the border again after the 21st.
Because of the travel restriction I assume there are two ways to enter Japan, but please kindly note that the government regulation may change. I am referring to the previous measures that were available in 2020 to expect what kind of options the passengers have.
1. Business Track
As of now “Business Track” is suspended in order to stop the outbreak of covid-19.
Business Track is “Phased Measures for Resuming Cross-Border Travel” that the Government of Japan (GOJ) announced on June 18, 2020 in order to establish a special quota pertaining to cross-border business travelers and others for entry into and departure from Japan, that operates separately from general procedures for cross-border travelers……
……While maintaining the border control measures, the GOJ will tentatively implement a special framework to facilitate cross-border business travelers and others on the condition of adopting additional quarantine measures. (reference : https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/cp/page22e_000925.html)
In the spring-summer of 2020, GOJ tentatively opened the border for
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
People were allowed to fly into Japan for business purposes with negative PCR certificate. In the summer of 2020, the GOJ eased the travel measures for these Asian countries (but not available now).
Depending on the outbreak of the new variant, the GOJ may keep suspending the travel from countries with many new variant cases. If you are living in countries that GOJ decides to use Business Track measure, you can land Shibuya without having CoE or a residence card.
GOJ tend to ease the restriction for the countries with small number of cases. Just for your reference, Japan still has 1,000+ cases everyday, and Tokyo has around 300–400 cases everyday in March 2021.
2. With CoE
Another option is applying for a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) by outsourcing the immigration process to one of the administrative scriveners based in Japan, receive the CoE at your home, go to the closest Japanese Embassy from your residential area, get visa and land Japan.
In 2020, Immigration Bureau suspended the immigration process of CoE for those living in the countries with travel bans unless they are already residing in Japan. I remember the CoE for people living in the US took over 6 months including the suspension period.
As soon as the GOJ ease the travel restriction, the CoE will be processed at Immigration Bureau.
Usually (without covid-19) the inspection of CoE takes 2–3 months for everyone especially if your visa sponsor (employer) is categorized under Category 3 or 4.
Category of employers
is basically all the publicly listed companies (大企業). The inspection is often less than a month.
is companies paying over 10 million JPY of withholding tax in the last year. If your employer is paying in total of over 100 million JPY salary to their employees annually, usually the company is categorized under 2. The inspection is often about a month.
is companies paying withholding tax last fiscal year based on the Legal record of withholding slip for salary (給与所得の源泉徴収票等の法定調書合計表). Category 3 companies do not pay over 100 million JPY salary to their employees annually, but do have the legal record. Most of the startups that filed tax are categorized under 3.
is basically all startups without financial record. Whenever Category 4 companies need to sponsor a visa for their employees, they have to submit business plan, labor contract, and many other documents to prove they exist in Japan, operate a business and properly pay salary.
All startups will be considered as Category 4, and the inspection period for startup owners/employees/staffs takes about 3 months.
Startup Visa application will be also considered Category 4, and the inspection period takes 2–3 months. I am expecting the first group of startup visa holders will land Shibuya around July 2021.
A little bit more patience, everybody!
Until then, I will wait for you just like Hachi.
My office will be 7 minutes walk away from the real Hachi statue 🐕
Note : This article was written on the 18th of March, 2021.