Japan Updates Visa Policy, Includes Remote Workers!

Japan reportedly intends to begin issuing digital nomad visas for remote workers next month, the Asian island nation’s Immigration Services Agency (ISA) announced Friday.

This would enable foreigners looking to stay in Japan longer than the standard tourist visa allows (90 days) to remain for a full six months while working from any place in the country without being employed by a Japanese company.

According to The Japan Times, the offer will be extended to remote workers from 49 countries and territories, including the U.S., that have tax treaties and reciprocal tourist visa-free arrangements in place.

The new digital nomad visas will be available to those who make ¥10 million (US$68,300) or more annually, including self-employed individuals. The program is expected to be put into effect by the end of March.

There are some other requirements, including that applicants have their own private health insurance, but workers’ spouses and children will also be welcome to stay in Japan for the duration of their visit. Those living in Japan temporarily will not be issued residence cards or certificates, which would entitle them to certain government benefits.

The outlet reported that this digital nomad visa would not be renewable, meaning that recipients would need to return to leave the country for at least six months and reapply for a new one, if they wished to return.

While specific details and terms of the new visa have yet to be released, this would seem to be supported by a tweet posted by Imaeda Soichiro, Deputy Minister at Japan’s Ministry of Education, Sports, Culture & Science (MEXT) earlier this week.

According to Nomadlist.com, there are currently around 35 million digital nomads living and working around the globe, most of which originate in North America and Europe. It reports that Tokyo was among the world’s top 10 most-visited remote work hubs last year, and the fastest-growing one, at that. 

The Japan Times reported that digital nomads represent a collective economic value of $787 billion. By creating this new visa and other initiatives to boost inbound tourism, Japan’s government hopes to claim a slice of that pie now that the pandemic has passed.

And, many other countries have already done the same, as The Points Guy noted when it reported that nearly 50 global nations currently offer remote workers the opportunity to live overseas for extended periods, including such desirable destinations as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica and various Caribbean islands.

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