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Cultural visa

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  • Cultural visa

    I have a friend who wants to go and study something in Japan. They are 35 yrs old, don't qualify for a working holiday visa but want to fulfil their lifelong ambition to study something to do with Japan. I don't have any knowledge of cultural visas as I was never on one.

    1) Does J language study qualify as a cultural visa?

    2) Can my friend work a certain amount of hrs per week while studying?

    3) Does the YMCA take mature aged students?

    I have no farkin idea. Thanks for anybody who wants to help out.

  • #2
    Cultural visas are probably one of the hardest visas to get. They were abused for a long time by people who wanted to come to Japan but didn't really do anything once they got there (or they worked illegally...) and the rules for getting this visa have tightened a LOT.

    First and foremost, to even be considered for this visa, one needs to prove they have studied whatever it is they want to study in Japan, in their home country. I believe the minimum amount of study is 6 months, but obviously it would be betterif it were longer. It seems a bit shady to never have had any documented interest in a particular field of study and all of a sudden start studying it 6 months before applying for a visa that has this very requirement.

    Second of all, no, language study does not qualify. Students of Japanese get a college visa (used to be pre-college but it was recently merged with the university visa). Your friend would have to take up something like tea ceremony, karate, or ikebana. There are schools for all of the above, but it is oviously expensive. You need to have special permission from both the school and immigration to do any type of part-time work (20 hours a week) and I believe most schools do not give such a permission for several months (3 is standard).

    Your friend will also need to prove they have ample savings to finance both their studies and their livelihood. I know that for language school students, they need to prove 2 million yen. 3 million yen is standard for university students. I believe cultural visas also require 2-3 million yen in savings.

    Lastly, because your friend is 35, they will be looked at even more closely- it is a rather advanced age to pick up some hobby for the first time and become hard-core enough to want to come to Japan to study it. Many, many people get turned down for the visa even with a school sponsoring it.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that those visas are usually only good for 6 months (1 year if very lucky) and while they can be renewed, you'd have to still be studying, and most intensive ikebana/tea ceremony/etc courses don't last more than a year or two, so it's obviously not a good solution for long-term living if your friend is hoping to move to Japan permanently.

    ETA: I've only ever gone to the YMCA for Japanese conversation brush-up on the cheap when I first got to Japan and since it's only a couple of times a week, it would never work for a visa. They wouldn't sponsor- I believe the same would be true for any activity your friend could pick up there. If your friend wants to do this it's gonna cost major money.