Foreign Residents Stuck Overseas Due to Japan’s Entry Restrictions

Government entry ban to halt the spread of COVID-19 has left many foreign residents unable to return to their homes in Japan

foreign residents
Man waiting in airport

As the coronavirus outbreak reached pandemic status, countries worldwide began to implement entry restrictions on border traffic. While many nations remained open to long-term, permanent residents, Japan has been denying entry to foreign residents returning from regions on its ban list, and has no set criteria for when they will be able to return.

Foreign residents face uncertain future

The measure has left a lot of foreign nationals in limbo as those who travelled abroad before the ban was put in place are now stranded overseas. Many are worried about how the situation will impact their careers and lives in Japan, while other people who remain in the country are now afraid to leave.

David Kvien, a 29-year-old Danish 3D artist living in Tokyo, travelled to Copenhagen from Japan on March 20 to take care of the funeral arrangements for his father, who passed away from a heart attack the day earlier.

Kvien’s return flight was booked for March 27, the day Japan placed its ban on travellers from 18 European countries, including Denmark, which meant that the artist was unable to fly back to his home in Tokyo.

Many foreign residents are worried about how the situation will impact their careers and lives in Japan, while other people in the country are afraid to leave

Other countries adopt different measures

India took more extreme measures than Japan to limit the spread of coronavirus infection by banning even its own citizens from returning home. Most developed countries have taken a more lenient approach by permitting the re-entry of citizens and legal residents from abroad, on the condition that they submit to a mandatory quarantine period upon arrival.

Under Japan’s current regulations, all foreign nationals, including anyone with permanent residency and their non-Japanese spouses, as well as those who are married to Japanese nationals, will be subject to the restrictions should they try to return to Japan from any virus-affected regions .

The number of countries on Japan’s entry-ban list has now reached 100, having added another 13 countries from Europe, Africa and South and Latin Americas at the weekend.

Immigration agency to consider individual cases

In response to the situation, Japan’s Immigration Service Agency (ISA) has said that all foreign nationals will be screened on an individual basis and may be allowed to return to the country under certain circumstances – though no criteria have been stipulated for returnees to meet to be allowed re-entry

“The rule says that those who leave for any of the banned regions will not be allowed to return in the foreseeable future,” said an official from the division of the Immigration Services Agency (ISA) overseeing arrival procedures.

The official added that any foreign residents who have a valid long-term or permanent residency, as well as their spouses, and spouses of Japanese nationals who left Japan before April should be allowed to return.

Do you know anyone who has been unable to return to Japan following the government’s travel ban? Let us know in the comment section.

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Foreign residents face uncertainty for their futures as long as Japan’s entry restrictions keep them stranded abroad.

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