Obtaining Japan and Korea Tourist Visas: A Right or A Privilege?

Contributed by Wanders of Eve

I cannot give my opinion on behalf of all the tourist visas in the world. But let me talk about Japan and Korea tourist visas based on my humble travel experiences over the past two years. And for one, these two countries are often on top of the list of dream destinations in Asia for Filipinos. Let’s admit it, times are changing and observing the Fillennial’s (Filipino Millennial) travel lifestyle nowadays as compared to many years before, and with the easing of visa rules to promote tourism, Japan and South Korea are becoming the new Singapore and Hong Kong. But here’s the dilemma most Filipino travellers often encounter or I must say, often dread – getting a tourist visa.

I’ve been to Japan twice in 2015, the first one for work and the other one for leisure. To South Korea, I travelled during spring in 2015 and will go back in autumn this 2017. I did not have a tough time securing a Japan visa perhaps because I work in a Japanese firm. What really got me nervous was when I applied for Korea tourist visa for the first time. I only had Thailand’s stamp on my passport back then, which by the way, was also for work and my first out of the country. So technically, South Korea was my first leisure trip.

Also read: How I Travelled 7 Days to 4 Cities in Japan: Itinerary & Tips for Filipinos

What happened?

To cut the long story short, my application got approved. Most probably because I have been working for eight years already when I applied for visa and my papers show that I have the capacity to finance my trip and I have a stable job (thank God) to come back to after and have no intention of overstaying to look for a job in Korea.

How likely will you get approved or denied?

Occasionally, I process Japan visa applications of our business partners, either for official purposes or tourism. For tourism, these are the things which I think will increase your chances of getting approved or denied: your certificate of employment and your bank account.

I’ve read numerous blogs in the past saying that there is no specific amount required when you apply. Yes, that’s right. But, be logical. How can you travel to Japan for seven days if you only have ₱20,000 in your account? Or how can you travel to South Korea if you do not have a stable job? These already raise a red flag. The thing is, your documents should really show strong economic ties to your country. Your travel history will also help a lot. And if you have already exhausted every effort and met every requirement but still get denied, here’s what I have to say – it is the consul’s prerogative and you cannot question that. He is not even obliged to tell you why. You just have to accept it no matter how heartbreaking it is and try again. Everything is appropriate in its own time. 🙂

Also read: My First Visa Application Was Denied and This is What I Learned

Is it a right or a privilege?

I have read a lot of comments on social media about Filipinos getting denied of Japan or Korea tourist visa. Many are questioning how easily the Japanese or Koreans come and go to the Philippines while we are having a tough time entering their country. I understand the predicament but it just does not work equally for both sides. I believe our government does its part in implementing strict protocols to these foreigners but do note as well that one of the things that can grant you easy access to a country for tourism is the power of your passport. South Korea ranks second and Japan third in the most powerful passports in the world as of 2017. The Philippines ranks 65th. There you go.

One thing I observed while reading these rants about visa denial is that our sense of entitlement is unbelievably overwhelming. I know what you’re thinking, “You don’t know how it feels being denied a visa because your applications were always approved.” Believe me, I feel for you. Let us try to put it this way. If you are a stranger, I will not grant you entry into my house unless you have enough proof of the genuineness of your motives. And even if your motives are sincere, it does not automatically give you the right to access my house; it will still depend upon my discretion to give you the privilege to do so. Obtaining visa to these two countries is not a right. It is a privilege. A privilege which is not given to everyone.

Also read: President Duterte Signs Law Extending Philippine Passport Validity to 10 Years

You might ask, “How about my hotel bookings? My plane tickets? I already paid for them.” Usually, your tendency is to become resentful and at the same time heartbroken. But please try your best not to put the blame on the consul because in the first place these are not required by the Korean embassy when you apply for a visa. It is at your own risk to book your tickets and accommodations ahead of time. For the Japan visa, though, your bookings may increase your chance but it is not an outright guarantee that you will get approved.

For me, I think it boils down to this – if it’s meant to be, it is meant to be. Just do your part in securing the necessary requirements, and if it is God’s will for you to travel to Japan or South Korea, then you will definitely get a visa. As I mentioned earlier, everything is appropriate in its own time.

If these two beautiful countries are next on your wander list, the best of luck on your visa application. And whatever the result may be when you open your passport, always have with you a little kindness for the embassy for doing their job.

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