I currently have a US F-1 visa who needs to travel to India. I was hoping to take a layover in Japan. Will I require a transit visa to go sightseeing in Japan and how can I get one in the USA or can I get one at Japanese airports as well?

I have been told by the Consulate General that they require my I-20 and F-1 visa as well. Why is all this documentation required?

  • Please make two separate questions for the documents and the visa for Japan. I'll edit this one to include only the visa question. – Aditya Somani Aug 5 '14 at 15:47
  • As far as the documentation part of your question goes, yes you must carry your I-20 with you and the since you'll be carrying your passport, the visa will be there of course. Also, there is no immigration while exiting the US, so this is not required to "exit" the US but is required to "enter" it again. Your F-1 visa is not valid without the I-20 and you will not be allowed to re-enter the country without it. – Aditya Somani Aug 5 '14 at 16:02
  • Thanks for the Reply and i do know regarding I20 and F1 Visa part but in Japanese Embassy they say that we just require Transit Visas for layovers, but if its more than one night stay you need show your bank statement it seems. – TravelBub Aug 5 '14 at 16:08
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    Japan doesn't need transit visa for layover. A layover involves you not leaving the airport. See travel.stackexchange.com/questions/9027/…? – Aditya Somani Aug 5 '14 at 16:09
  • Intersting, this is a great question. I believe you are talking about this? atlanta.us.emb-japan.go.jp/transitvisa.html Unfortunately they have been using non standard terminology here, but let me investigate more. – Aditya Somani Aug 5 '14 at 16:12

Since you wish to visit Japan for sightseeing, you would need a proper tourist visa to enter Japan. The fact that you have a valid US F-1 visa does not change that. You can apply for the visa at any Japanese consulate in the United States.

Japan does this in a short stay format (they seem to call it a "transit" visa) as well wherein you are allowed to stay for 15 days for sightseeing or other leisurely activities. Checking at the consulate website for Atlanta reveals that your premonitions are indeed correct. On the other hand if one were to apply from India, it seems the heavy documentation is not necessary.

You'll need a valid US visa and your accompanying I-20. They have instantiated this requirement because they do not issue these visas to B1/B2 visa holders in the US. A full list is provided at the consulate website.

The answer on a previously discussed question suggests that if your trip is less than 72 hours, you can get a visa on the airport as well.

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