BUNAC is a travel company that helps young people between the ages 18 – 30 gain a Working Holiday visa for a variety of countries such as –
- America/Summer Camp
- New Zealand
There are opportunities to do some volunteer work. These programmes are helpful for those out of college/university, want to see the world and learn about other cultures.
I am going on the Work Japan Programme as the title of my blog suggests as I have been interested in the country for a number of years and have a strong interest in their pop culture, history and ways of life. I wanted a way of being able to do this and being able to stay longer in the country than 90 days, which you can do on your passport. The downside to this is the lack of ability to do some sort of work to help finance the extended stay.
Where does Bunac fit?
I was googling and one thing that kept cropping up was a Working Holiday Visa and various companies that were looking for people teaching English however there were a lot looking for those with a degree. Unfortunately, I don’t have a degree as I studied Horse Management at College before doing a working pupil course and that’s what I’ve wanted to do. I’m now a Horse Riding Instructor.
I applied for other companies as some didn’t need a degree but I was unsuccessful and then I found BUNAC YAY!
I looked through their site and was delighted with the various jobs I could do while in Japan and that they would help me over the course of my stay in Japan. The deposit was reasonable and it would last up 2 a year which suited me fine as I had to get a move on as I’m currently 29.
I arranged a time to have a callback and spoke to Rorie who was very helpful and he had been to Japan as well. He explained the process and what would happen. He said I would need evidence that I could support myself as it is a working holiday and that the visa would be refused if I was just working. I also had to write a letter as to why I wanted to visit Japan and what I would gain from the visa as well as an itinerary of my planned activities and where I was planning on going. This is just a guide and not set in stone.
I have been fortunate to have savings which would I can use as I would like to visit as much of the country as possible.
Rorie also said I could sign up to a language course which lasts from 1 – 4 weeks. This is extra but it’s something worth doing as Japanese is an interesting language and would be useful to know especially if you’re going to various parts and some may not have good English. This will also give a more cultural experience.
The call ended with me paying the deposit £100 and the feeling that I had started something that would change my life.
Over the course of the following weeks, I e-mailed with various questions which came with a quick response and helpful advice as I started writing my letter as to why I wanted to go to Japan.
I watched videos on YouTube of others who live and work in Japan and I recommend doing this as I have learned much about the country and what I can expect.
I also made the decision to leave the stables I’d been working and living at since 2012. I knew I would have to in order to go for a year but I made it for me.
Once home, I planned on applying for my visa in February so that I could fly out in April for the Sakura (cherry blossom) however, the Embassy closed the visa’s as they had run out for the 2018 – 2019 tax year. There’s only 1000 of these visa’s and with an increase in demand due to the Rugby World Cup being held in Japan and Tokyo 2020 it meant that for the 1st time they had run out. Luckily, the visa’s were to re-open in April. This gave me the chance to sort things out such as my money and planning my visit to London.
Leading up to London
During this time, I worked on my letter, what I intend to do in Japan, blog, book accommodation in a shared house, travel insurance and seeing my friends and family as much as I could before I went away. I sent Olivia a copy of my letter and intended activities, which she looked over and gave me helpful advice as I wanted to make sure it was suitable.
Once approved I printed them out including my CV, getting a recent photo for my visa application (done within 6 months), sorted out my finances and got my bank statements. Once these things were ready I was looking forward to visiting London. I have a post on London on another post if anyone is interested.
I applied for my visa on the 11th April 2019 and went to BUNAC office which was easy to find to get some last minute help. I was able to talk to Ramon who helped me out a great deal as I had forgotten my intended activities. He said not to worry and got me a blank copy as well as a printed copy I had e-mailed over. I ended up re-writing it all but I managed it. He looked over my letter and said I had done a good job (thanks again Olivia for your help). He also got me some paperwork to fill out so then they could pick up my visa for me, which again is extra but as I live a good distance away from London, it was cheaper for me instead of making another trip.
I then went to the Embassy which was quite close by, easy 20-minute bus ride then straight down. You can’t miss it as the flag is outside. We entered and put our bags through security and went upstairs. I got a ticket and got my paperwork ready as I waited for my number to be called.
My number was called and I went in and he looked through my CV, cover letter and intended activities. He checks, ed my passport, financial evidence, and my photo. This took about 10 – 15 minutes and ended with me being told my passport would be ready in one week and told me to present a document and my ticket number when I came to pick it up.
I was super relieved. I left the Embassy and went back to BUNAC were I met with Olivia. I handed her paperwork and ticket from the Embassy and she told me what would happen next and that it was a good sign as any refusal happens there and then. I thanked her and left.
Once home it was a wait the ing game but I received an e-mail (the phone wouldn’t connect) to confirm my address and she said it would be with me the following working day. This was Saturday as Good Friday 19th April. I was so happy and relieved to get my visa as it means its definitely going to happen.
Currently, I’m waiting to be contacted by Worlds Unite which BUNAC is working alongside for this programme. My next steps are to order some Yen ready for my trip, pack and gather all the documents that I need to bring with me.
Overall, BUNAC has been amazing and so supportive. I would recommend this company to anyone who is interested in doing a work abroad programme. I hope this is helpful and look out for my Japan posts.