• Japan: Reminder of Departure Requirements; Other Important Information for Temporary Relocation of Employees
  • March 22, 2011
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • As some employers consider temporarily redeploying staff out of Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami, if circumstances permit, they should take certain immigration implications into account. For workers leaving Japan, employers should try to ensure that employees carry valid travel documentation both to depart and re-enter the country. The Japanese Immigration Bureau and many foreign embassies have implemented temporary measures to assist affected foreign nationals and their families.

    Departing from Japan

    Work and dependent visa holders must ensure that they carry valid Japanese visas and re-entry permits on departure to the extent that is practical under the circumstances. If their visa or re-entry permit expires while outside of Japan, they will need to apply for a new Certificate of Eligibility and visa before they can re-enter Japan for employment. Likewise, permanent residents must ensure that their re-entry permits are valid to avoid losing their status.

    The Japanese Immigration Bureau is currently processing re-entry permits within one to two working days, but it is also faced with an exceedingly high volume of applications. As such, travelers who need to obtain re-entry permits should do so as soon as possible. While obtaining re-entry permits before departure is strongly recommended, we recognize that the situation in Japan remains highly fluid and that departure at this time presents significant challenges. If circumstances are such that foreign nationals must depart Japan without a re-entry permit, Fragomen will be able to assist them reapply for the necessary entry documents.

    Individuals with extremely pressing travel plans may be granted a discretionary single re-entry permit that can be collected at the airport. For these cases, please contact Fragomen for assistance immediately.

    Foreign nationals should also remember to ensure their passports and Japanese visas are valid to avoid any departure issues.

    Passport and Travel Assistance from Embassies

    Individuals who have lost their passports or are otherwise in need of travel assistance should contact their respective embassies in Tokyo. Many foreign embassies, such as Australia, China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States have posted specific information on their websites. At this time, Fragomen is able to provide some assistance with obtaining a new or replacement passport depending on the nationality of the passport holder. However, as the situation continues to develop, the ability of our co-counsel firms to provide passport assistance may change with very little notice.

    Immigration Impact for Individuals Remaining in Japan

    Employers should ensure that their foreign national employees staying in Japan continue to hold valid immigration status. Foreign nationals who, due to the earthquake and tsunami, have overstayed on their visas may be given special consideration. However, the Japanese immigration authorities have not issued any formal announcement on the matter and requests are being evaluated on a case-to-case basis.

    The Japanese government has issued special rules for visa extensions for individuals residing in Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, or who were in these areas during the March 11 earthquake. Companies with employees who fall in this classification and require immigration assistance should contact Fragomen.

    There are no changes to domestic travel requirements. Travelers should continue to ensure that they carry a valid passport and Alien Registration Card for identification purposes.

    Checking on Family Members

    Individuals seeking to verify the safety of their relatives or to determine if relatives have already left Japan can contact the respective help desks of the Japanese Immigration Bureau or the Red Cross.

    Special Programs for Individuals Leaving Japan

    As reported yesterday, Hong Kong has created an expedited work permit program allowing financial institutions to transfer to Hong Kong workers affected by the earthquake and tsunami. The expedited work permit will have a validity of up to 12 months, require less documentation and have a much shorter processing time than the standard employment visa. Fragomen is monitoring global responses to the Japan earthquake and will provide additional updates as they become available.

    The content herein is provided for informational purposes only. To read more Fragomen Client Alerts please visit: http://www.fragomen.com.

    Should you need immediate assistance, please contact:

    Mark Buchanan
    Partner
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: +65 6854 5174

    Kenneth Lau
    Regional Manager, APCC
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: +65 6854 5168