Japan to Invalidate Already Issued “Special Circumstances” Visas for Foreigners

The Japanese government announced Dec. 1st that it will temporarily suspend the validity of all “Special Circumstances” visas already issued, as reported by the Nikkei newspaper.

Starting November 30th, in principle, the new entry of foreigners to the country was already halted but until the announcement, “Special Circumstances” visas  (特例ビザ) were still valid. The policy change is meant to help prevent the spread of the Omicron mutation of the coronavirus.

“Special Circumstances” visas allowed a small group of people to cross the border, and included diplomats, humanitarian cases, and artists and entertainers, for example. In October this year, about 10,000 people newly entered Japan under this type of visa.

The government announced that with the change, it would tighten the criteria used to determine “special circumstances.” Visas issued under the previous standards will be invalidated, meaning that foreigners who wish to enter Japan within the next month will be required to re-apply and have their applications re-examined under stricter criteria.

“Special Circumstances” visas will still be given to people for whom it is determined that there is a high public interest. This would include visas for Japanese family members, diplomatic officials and humanitarian cases. However, the criteria will be adjusted to narrow the scope of eligibility for people working in music, sports, and arts and entertainment.

Source: Nikkei newspaper, December 2, 2021 (in Japanese)

Lead image: iStock 186825197

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