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ESTA for Japanese Citizens

If a Japanese citizen plans to visit the United States of America, they must receive prior permission from the U.S. government.

Japanese nationals are eligible for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a visa waiver system that can be used instead of a traditional US visa. Travelers from 39 countries around the world can apply.

When Do Japanese Travelers Need to Apply for an ESTA?

Japanese citizens should apply for ESTA if they are planning to visit the United States for 90 days or less for any of the following purposes:

  • Business
  • Tourism
  • Medical treatment
  • Transit

Please note that Japanese nationals are also required to apply for ESTA for transit journeys with a stopover in the USA, no matter how much or how little time they will be spending within American territory.

ESTA applications must be submitted at least 3 business days prior to the intended date of departure in order to allow the US authorities enough time to process the Japanese national’s request.

Making an ESTA Application From Japan

Submitting an ESTA application from Japan involves completing a simple online form that takes no more than 10 minutes to fill out.

In order to successfully complete the ESTA application from Japan, applicants should confirm that the following is true:

  • All information entered is factual and accurate, especially passport details
  • All questions have been answered truthfully and fully
  • All information supplied has been reviewed and verified before submission

Japanese individuals wishing to travel to the US with their family should be aware that minors and dependents of applicants need to apply for ESTA independently and cannot share the ESTA visa waiver of a parent, guardian, etc.

The average ESTA application for Japanese passport holders gets approved instantly. Nevertheless, travelers should be aware that in certain circumstances, it may take up to 3 working days for an application to be reviewed. This happens especially when the form presents inaccurate or incomplete information.

For this reason, travelers are strongly encouraged to apply for ESTA from Japan no later than 72 hours before they plan to leave for the USA.

Please also note that a processing fee must be paid online using a credit or debit card in order for the ESTA application from Japan to be processed.

Once all the necessary information and documents have been submitted, applicants can check the status of their ESTA Japan online, and can look up the issue date and expiry date of their travel permit, verify the passport details they have submitted, etc.

Entry Requirements for Japanese Citizens Visiting the United States

Any Japanese citizen wishing to travel to the United States must possess the following documents:

  • A machine-readable Japanese passport with an electronic chip
    • This passport must have at least 6 months of validity left from the date the holder intends to arrive in the USA
  • A valid ESTA from Japan (or visa)

Japanese holders of a valid ESTA permit should be informed that this remains valid for 2 years from its date of issue and that travelers may make a trip of up to 90 days to the USA at any time within that 2-year period.

Please note that the ESTA visa waiver is a pre-screening evaluation system. It gives its holders the right to travel to America, but US Customs and Border Protection make the ultimate judgment on whether a holder may enter the United States of America.

However, very few Japanese citizens who apply for ESTA from Japan encounter trouble when entering the USA.

ESTA—Quick Facts for Japanese Citizens

  • ESTA applications from Japan should be submitted online no later than 72 hours before departure
  • Some travelers whose ESTA application is denied may still apply for a US tourist visa
  • Holders of ESTA for Japanese citizens may make multiple trips of less than 90 days to the United States within the 2-year validity period of their permit
  • Decisions on applications are usually provided instantly
  • The ESTA system may be accessed conveniently online

When do Japanese Nationals Need to Apply for a Visa Instead of an ESTA?

Certain groups of Japanese nationals are not eligible to apply for ESTA even if they hold a valid Japanese passport. These categories are the following:

  • Anyone with a criminal record
  • Any traveler currently with a contagious disease that might pose a serious public health risk to the American population
  • All individuals who have, in the past, been refused entry to the US, been deported from American territory, or taken a trip to the United States that lasted longer than 90 days on an ESTA permit
  • Any visitor to or passport holder from the following countries Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen

However, Japanese citizens who are ineligible to apply who have had their ESTA application rejected may be able to apply for a U.S. tourist visa. There are 2 different categories of US tourist visa:

  • A B1-category visa called a US Business Visa. This visa is for individuals intending to travel to the United States for business and related activities
  • A B2-category visa called a US Travel or Visitor Visa. This visa is for visitors to the US who come for the purposes of leisure, tourism, family visits, or medical treatment

Applications for both categories of tourist visas must be submitted at a United States embassy or consulate.

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