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● What is “Visa for medical stay”?
From January 1st 2011, foreigners who enter Japan for the purpose of health treatment and person(s) accompanying them will be issued a “visa for medical stay”. Up to now, they were residing on short term visas, but since this type of visa didn’t specify the purpose of their stay, applying for it was a very demanding procedure. In addition, it was almost impossible to get it for long term stays. In addressing these issues, “visa for medical stay” was introduced. Applicable medical services include any acts instructed by medical institutions in Japan, not only treatment and stays at a medical institution, but a variety of services ranging from all kinds of medical examinations and dental care to rehabilitation, such as hot springs recuperation. Also, those involved in personal care of the intended medical service receiver will be issued this type of visa.

● Applying
In order to apply for this visa one first needs to specify the medical institution which is to be visited. People who have no friends or relatives in Japan, and have difficulties finding an appropriate institution, can go through medical coordinators and travel agencies registered with the Japanese Foreign Ministry for this purpose. These agencies will also act as one’s guarantor when applying for visa. Concretely, they will provide one with a document called "Certificate from the medical institution about the planned medical services and references from the guarantor" which we mention below. Once a medical institution is specified proceed to collect all the paperwork and apply. Please note that application procedure differs with the length of intended stay. If that period is shorter then 90 days the application is done at a Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General overseas.

List of Japanese Embassies and Consulates-General >>

However, if it is longer then 90 days, the foreign patients will need to have someone who already resides in Japan to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the regional Immigration Bureau, on behalf of the foreign patient and send it to them. Applicants then need to present the COE together with other documents to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General abroad. Here, one will initially be granted a 6 months visa which can later be extended, if necessary, in Japan.

● Documents needed for application
To apply for “visa for medical stay”, the following documents are needed: 1) Passport
2) Photo
3) Visa application form
4) "Certificate from a medical institution about the planned medical services and references from a guarantor"
5) Documents showing the foreign patient's financial situation (e.g., a bank statement)
6) A document proving the foreign patient's identity
7) Medical Treatment Plan (when the foreign patient needs to make multiple visits to Japan to receive treatment)

● For medical institutions personnel
At Gaikokujin Consulting we accept inquires about “visas for medical stay”. Since this is a recent innovation it is understandable to have some uncertainties about the whole process. However, this visa, together with other visas foreigners get issued, is just part and parcel of a long standing system of immigration policies and, though an improvement, it doesn’t change this bigger picture in any significant way. Therefore, if you continue your work based on previous experience and knowledge about immigration system, you should be able to receive foreign patients without larger difficulties. At Gaikokujin Consulting we base our work on actual results in supporting foreigners and their employers, and you can rely on our prompt support with the new “visa for medical stay” system as well.

● For registered guarantors
To support foreign patients in their application process for “visa for medical stay” as a guarantor, you will first need to register with the Foreign Ministry. At Gaikokujin Consulting we are ready to support you with the registration procedure. We are open for your inquires.