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Applying for a Japan visa: Not dramatic, but…

I had not received my passport back since I had not got any more notification about my UK Visa application. However, I thought I could start finding out about Japan Visa application earlier so that later when I received my passport back-regardless I got the UK Visa or not-I could directly apply for a Japan Visa. I think this is one of my specialties: doing something that can be done later and is not urgent now to avoid or procrastinate doing things that should be done as soon as possible. The art of procrastination πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ

So, I browsed. I found out that Arizona residents could apply to the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, and I did not have to go to Los Angeles for that. I could mail all the documents via post because I live in Arizona. It is simple and not complicated. I only need to provide passport, US Visa/I-20, photo, bank statement, application form, release of liability form, flight itinerary, hotel confirmation, daily itinerary, and they said that depending on the visa that I’d love to apply, there might be additional documents I should attach so it’s best to call the embassy to make sure. For my nationality, the fee was $6 for transit visa and $54 for multiple-entry visa.

As usual, I just wanted to be sure and confirm some stuff, and especially because I wished to apply for a multiple-entry visa instead of transit-visa (And so I had another reason to keep procrastinating πŸ˜ŒπŸ€—βœŒ). So I called the embassy and asked to speak to the visa section. That’s what they instructed on the website page. The wait wasn’t long. It was immediately connected. I loved that. But then I spoke to the lady in visa section. I explained my purpose but she kept cutting me, well, maybe I was the one cutting her. The problem was I called because I needed to confirm what I was confused about, but she told me things that I already knew from the website. It was time-consuming, and you know how I feel about this time thing. I tried to behave, though. I said that I wished to apply for multiple-entry visa. She asked about my nationality. I explained that I was Indonesian passport holder. She asked how much money I had in my bank account right now. And I told her. And she immediately said that I was not allowed. I could not believe it. I asked how much money should I have in my account in order to be allowed to get multiple-entry visa from here. She didn’t explain!

I mean, it’s X-thousand dollars, the same amount I used for applying for UK Visa. It’s thousands, not hundreds! And she said it wasn’t enough but did not tell me how much was enough! I mean, my friend’s applying for Canadian visa and the money was less than what I told this Japanese visa-section lady. I was baffled. I would understand if she had told me how much I should have just so I can save for future references, but she did not answer that question. Instead, she asked if my passport was biometric. Well, I understood what she meant. Japanese government allows Indonesian e-passport holders to enter Japan without visa. My passport is biometric (all passports are now biometric) but not e-passport, so I still need a visa. Then, she said all they could give was a double-entry transit visa and that if I wanted a multi-entry visa, it’s better for me to go back to Indonesia and apply from there. I had not finished talking and asking and she had not answered my question about how much money I should have to be qualified for a multi-entry visa but then she said good-bye and cut the line. I was like… She rendered me speechless! I was so pissed! I was broken!

Look, I am okay if they won’t give me a multi-entry visa right now because I will only transit anyway. I can apply for another visa later when I am set to travel around Japan for a longer time. That’s why I need to know the requirements. But she didn’t tell me. I was disheartened. Not because they wouldn’t give me a multi-entry visa but because of the way she treated me. It was rude. It was impolite. It was not nice!!! So I felt broken! Because you know how much I love Japan, you know how I’ve been glorifying and boasting their cultures and their people. Their politeness, their humility, their hard work, etc. but now this, the lady in visa section with whom I spoke. She was not the picture of Japan that I’ve loved. So it felt like a betrayal. It’s like getting betrayed by the person you love. It’s damn painful! I might be exaggerating, and I didn’t know how it felt to be betrayed by a romantic partner because I’ve never had one, but I can tell that it hurt! I was broken-hearted πŸ˜”πŸ˜­

Look, I know this lady does not represent the whole Japanese people. But I was still disappointed. And maybe this is why we need good people as our representatives in the embassy or such governtment offices or any speaker/representative in any international events. That’s because people need to know the good role model, a good example, not the bad ones. I don’t know how to explain this well, but I know if I have the authority, I will not hire someone like her to work in the embassy or consulate-general offices. Big no.

But, well, I tried to calm down. I decided to give them another call the next day. I asked to speak with visa-section again. I wasn’t sure if it was the same lady with whom I spoke before. It might have been, but I didn’t care any more. I didn’t want to bring up the past, so I just asked questions about things I really wanted to confirm. I didn’t ask about multi-entry visa thing. But maybe she remembered me when I mentioned that I lived in Tucson, Arizona. I don’t know, but, well. And again, she felt like she needed to explain everything I hadn’t asked, things that I already knew from the website. She asked me to let her finish telling me the requirements, which were also available on the website page 😭😭😭 But, ok, I didn’t want to be a jerk, so I listened until she finished, then I asked my question. My question was actually simple: about the photo, should I provide 1 or 2? The web says one, but in the application form there’s a space for a photo so I was wondering if the required photo was in addition to the photo attached in the form (so 2photos were required) or if it was the same (only one photo in total). I knew this is trivial for some, but I really need to make it clear. She says only one photo is required in total. Another question was: should I send my passport and I-20 and a copy of each or only the original is enough? She says only the original for passport and only a copy for I-20. Another question: is it okay to print the flight itinerary in black-and-white? She says it’s ok. Well, she might have been frustrated that I asked such questions but seriously I need to be sure about everything. I don’t want to print/send things when they are not necessary because it’s going to be a waste, right? I’m always avoiding such waste.

I actually edited this letter because at the end, I attached my last 4 bank statement to include April’s.

And so, I planned to send my application as soon as UK embassy returned my passport. I planned to include a cover letter in my application. The cover letter would let the embassy know that I wished to apply for a multi-entry visa instead of transit-visa because I planned to travel to Japan and might attend conferences in Japan in the future as you can see in the pic. Well, of course I should demonstrate that I have learned some Japanese. I can’t help it πŸ˜ŒπŸ€—πŸ™ˆβœŒβœŒβœŒ

Then, after what seemed to be forever, I finally got my passport and UK Visa on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. I immediately went to USPS to get it delivered to Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles. I was confused which package I should use. The overnight service was $24.70 while the 2-3day service was only $6.70. The first was expensive but I was hoping that I’d get my application to be delivered by Friday at the latest so I finally decided to use that service to send my documents to the embassy. In short, I needed it to be delivered quickly. Besides, it was still cheaper than what I spent for my UK visa application. *Sigh Meanwhile for the return envelope, I just bought the regular $6.70. Well, I was not in a hurry anyway. I mean, if the embassy received it the next day (Thursday), then maybe they could issue the visa on Friday and return it to me. Then I’d have weekend, so somehow I’d be able to get it the next week. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to go to Los Angeles to apply for Schengen in French embassy before May 10, so I thought it was okay to use the cheaper package/service. And of course it’s not worth it to buy the expensive package for the return envelope for that reason alone. Don’t forget the main principle: spend money wisely as necessary! πŸ˜ŒπŸ€—

This is how much I spent to get my docs sent to the embassy and for the embassy to return it to me.

The next day I received the update from USPS, stating that my documents had been delivered in/at the mailbox at 10.52am. But I was having a workshop on that day so I couldn’t really check until afternoon. By the time I finished my workshop, around 2.30ish or 3pm, I called the embassy to check if they had indeed received my visa application. I spoke to a guy at first and started talking about it, but then he connected me to the visa section. I guess that how things were in Japanese Embassy in LA. So I spoke to the lady. It seemed like the same lady I had spoken to before. She asked where I sent the application from, state, city, first name, and last name then went to check it. She said they hadn’t received it. And I think I kinda freaked out that I thought I heard it wrong, so the lady had to repeat that they had not received my documents. I was like, how come? I mean, they should’ve received it! The lady said they’d probably get it the next day (Friday). And, again, the lady seemed to really be in a hurry to hung up. It pissed me off actually, but, well… It was kinda freaking me out as well. I mean, I was worried if I had sent it to the wrong address so I checked the Japanese Embassy’s address again and again and matched it with the delivery receipt that I had. I felt relieved because the address was right, but, still scared of the possibility that it was wrong. I don’t know…

I received it right on the next day, on May 9.

Then later when I got home, around 3.57 p.m., the same day, I received a call from a private number (basically no number was displayed). Well, normally I wouldn’t pick up such calls but I guess I was just too tired so I decided to answer the call. And you bet, it was from Japanese Embassy Visa Section. The same lady, I think. She said they’d received my documents and they just wanted to make sure of one thing. They asked if I needed a visa to Philippines, and of course I said no, I mean, it’s ASEAN thing. Indonesians don’t really need a visa to visit ASEAN countries if staying less than 14/30 days. And, well, she said something about giving me only a transit visa, and so would return the money. But I might have heard it wrong. I guess I was just still hoping to get the multi-entry visa πŸ˜”πŸ˜­

The next days I kept checking the tracking number for my return envelope, hoping it was quickly done and sent back to me, but of course it hadn’t. I kept hoping it would be sent back on Monday, though. That’s because I hoped to received it the next Thursday so that I could directly go to LA for my Schengen visa application. The problem was I didn’t want to go during fasting month, and I really wanted to settle everything before that.

Feeling so happy to get my passport back along with Japan Visa 😊❀

Then on Monday, I kept refreshing my USPS tracking-number page and it’s finally there! 😍❀😍 See how fast it is compared to UK!!! Well, I thought I should get it by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. But when I checked again on Tuesday’s morning, it’s still in LA USPS Distribution Center πŸ™ˆπŸ˜… But later in the day it had already been in Tucson. I knew refreshing my USPS tracking-number page wouldn’t make it delivered faster πŸ™ˆ But somehow it let me know that it’s moving, it’s there. It would arrive. So the next day, again, I kept refreshing the page and found it was out for delivery. In the afternoon, I checked my mailbox, and it was already there. I had not even received the delivery notification; the tracking-number page did not indicate that it had been delivered either because they usually updated it later by 8pm. But, well, I was happy to finally get my passport and visa back. But as you might have guessed, I didn’t get a multiple-entry visa πŸ˜” They only gave me a double-entry transit visa πŸ˜” But, well, it’s better than not getting a visa at all, right? 😊 I can’t wait to travel to Japan now. And, oh, of course they returned my $54 in the same envelope. I can’t love Japan any less than this. They are simply amazing. I mean, if compared to the whole process of my UK Visa application, which took almost a month to get the passport and the visa returned, this Japan Visa application process was much much faster. It was even less than a week! 😊❀

PS: They only returned the passport along with the visa and the $54. Unlike UK embassy who returned all documents including the app form, they kept the form and copies to themselves. They only returned the originals. Well, at least that way I don’t feel like wasting the papers to print them out πŸ˜€

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