April_Isabel wrote:A few questions about applying for the visa, please!
1) Is it possible to apply for a visa at a consulate other than the consulate from which you're departing? I'm hoping to apply at the San Francisco consulate even though I'm departing from the Honolulu.
2) Is it necessary to be physically present at the consulate where you apply for your visa after the "four day minimum" processing time? Do I have to return to the consulate for in order for them to stamp my passport indicating that my visa was approved?
3) Do I need a Certificate of Eligibility to apply for a visa? The consulate in San Francisco indicates that one is needed when applying for a work visa, yet my instructions coming out of Honolulu does not include such a form...
I am travelling quite a bit in the weeks leading up to my Japan departure from Honolulu which is why I'm juggling deadlines, paperwork, and consulates. Any help is much appreciated!
Yes, a Certificate of Eligibility from your future employer is required for getting a working visa in Japan. However, since JET is through the Japanese government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacts the consulates and embassies directly to verify the names of new JETs (and their approved dependents) to authorize the visas for them. This takes the place of the Certificate of Eligibility. Since these communications are going directly from MOFA to the consulate/embassy you will be departing through, you need to get your visa processed there (there is a slight possibility that one consulate might be able to send proof to another consulate, but I don't think it's likely; consulates generally don't like to step over one another when it comes to matters of jurisdiction, so I wouldn't plan on that). You do not have to be physically present for the visa to be processed, but you do need to surrender your passport to the consulate you are departing through in order for them to go through the approval and visa printing process. You should expect to be without it for several days.
Each consulate operates on their own schedule when it comes to visa approval, so a "four day minimum" for one location may not be accurate in your case, especially for JET visas. I require my JETs to provide me with their passports and visas about 2 weeks before departure. The reason why is because sometimes the visa office here can get slammed with large groups of students or professionals needing visas, and if they are in line before my group of JETs, they get priority. I tell my JETs not to plan any international trips between mid-late July, as this is exactly when I need to have the passports in. I do not return passports until the Predeparture Orientation (some coordinators don't return them until the actual departure date).
This information should have been provided to you by your JET Coordinator in Honolulu. She is the one you should be speaking with about this. A JET visa is not like a typical working visa, in that you don't simply get the forms and apply for it all on your own; rather, you need to follow the specific guidelines you've been provided with. Contact your coordinator and explain your traveling plans to see how flexible matters are when it comes to surrendering your passport. She may be able to accept your passport a little bit later, or it might be possible to get your visa processed before an international trip you have planned (be sure it's not processed more than 3 months before your intended date of entry to Japan, or else it would be invalid). That said, depending upon the schedule she has set, you may have to adjust your international travel to accommodate the visa schedule that is already in place at the Honolulu consulate.