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Labor companies rush to apply for visas as Japan eases travel ban

By Hoang Phuong, Nguyen Quy   November 24, 2020 | 11:36 pm PT
Labor companies rush to apply for visas as Japan eases travel ban
People queue up in front of the Japan's embassy in Hanoi to apply for visas, November 24, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Labor export companies are scrambling to apply for Japanese visas for their clients after that country lifted an entry ban for non-tourist arrivals from Vietnam.

There was no jostling and pushing on Tuesday as people were divided into three lines in front of the Japanese embassy on Hanoi's Lieu Giai Street in Ba Dinh District for issuance of tokens.

Many were employees of labor export companies, and carried large bags with hundreds of applications and passports.

The embassy started issuing visas on November 20 for those visiting Japan for short-term commercial purposes such as market research, negotiations and signing contracts, cultural exchanges, training programs, and long-term stay.

The country has lifted its ban on people coming from nine countries and territories, including Vietnam, as it gradually eases Covid-19 travel restrictions in a bid to revive its battered economy.

Standing in the middle of a row, Thao, an employee of a local labor company, had four sets of applications from trainees who have been granted residence status in Japan since July.

He kept glancing at his watch and at the queue in front of him and feared he could not submit his applications in time.

He had come on Monday too but the queues were too long and he could not submit his applications. So on Tuesday morning he got a colleague living in the vicinity to queue up early.

In his three years in the industry he has never seen such a large crowd in front of the embassy.

Tran Thi Nhung, an employee of another labor export company who took a xe om (motorbike taxi) to travel 20 km from her house in Phung Town in Dan Phuong District, saw nearly 100 people already waiting when she reached at 8 a.m.

She did not know how many applications she had exactly, only that she had them in three plastic bags. After waiting for more than an hour she wearily put the bags at her feet and sat down.

"Due to the pandemic, my candidates could not fly to Japan and hundreds of applications have been piled up," she said but sounded optimistic that Japan agreed to resume visa issuance.

"It is a good sign."

Japan requires visitors to be quarantined for 14 days on entry.

In late March it stopped accepting Vietnamese guest workers as the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out.

The number of Vietnamese leaving abroad for work in the first nine months of this year was 59 percent down year-on-year at 42,800, according to the overseas labor department.

Japan, their largest destination, saw the number of new workers go down nearly 49 percent.

Japan has had over 133,000 cases of Covid and 1,989 deaths so far. Since March it has imposed a series of lockdowns and travel bans.

Last year 147,387 Vietnamese went abroad to work, a 3.2 percent increase from 2018.

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