Japan offers visa extensions and free accommodation to trapped expats

Published:  28 May at 6 PM
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Japan is offering free accommodation to trapped foreign students and stranded expatriates.

As in other countries worldwide, Japan now has a large number of expats trapped in the country since international borders were closed and lockdowns imposed. Luckily for foreigners now struggling financially, the tradition of Japanese hospitality is far from dead, as many hotels and universities are opening their doors for free stays until the crisis abates.

One of Kanazawa’s popular tourist hotels, the Kaname Inn Tatemachi, is now offering free accommodation to foreigners unable to return to their home countries. Its management has even taken out a bank loan of $742,000 in order to be able to provide assistance to stranded visitors to the region. According to the hotel’s management, the gesture is aimed at repaying foreigners who’ve arrived in the country during a sightseeing trip.

The first traveller to take advantage of the hotel’s generosity was a Dutch tourist, with an increasing number of enquiries now arriving from foreign students and visitors. By the middle of May, some 50 foreigners had arrived, many of whom had lost their jobs and work visas due to the pandemic and were unable to return home due to border closures, lockdowns and a lack of commercial flights. Since then, three hotels have opened their doors to trapped foreigners, and Osaka University is offering on-campus accommodation as well.

As many of those now unemployed and unable to leave are now facing visa issues, Japan’s Immigration Services Agency have allowed a deadline extension for all affected. This loosening of the rules is targeted at foreign residents as well as tourists caught up in the chaos and unable to leave as a result, and refers to those with visas expiring between March and July.
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