INTRODUCTION: Overview of Immigration System in Japan

In order to enter Japan, you need to obtain a "visa". The visa application procedures is divided into two types according to your objectives to visit Japan as follows:

(1) Short-term Stay :

A stay of up to 90 days for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, or business trip which does not involve any income. Temporary Visitor visa is required for this types of stay in Japan, however, foreign nationals of the countries shown the list of exemption of visa are not required to obtain Temporary Visitor visa when they visit Japan for sightseeing, visiting relatives and acquaintances, business meeting, conferences, etc.

Temporary Visitor visa is issued at the Japan Embassy or Consulate-General near you. For more information of Temporary Visitor visa, visit the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

(2) Long-term Stay or :

A stay of over 90 days for work, study or other activity under Status of Residence (*) designated by Immigration Office in Japan. In this case, you must apply for Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for specific Status of Residence based on what activity you intend to engage in Japan before you come to Japan.

Immigration Office will issue COE and grant you specific period of time for the stay only in case that you satisfy Criteria and the Requirements. After the COE is issued, you need to apply for entry visa to Japan with the COE at the Embassy or Consulate-General of Japan (or other related organization) near you.

(*) Status of Residence

Foreign nationals who intend to reside in Japan to work, study or engage in specific activity must be recognized to be eligible for one particular Status of Residence (在留資格 Zairyu-Shikaku) designated by Immigration Bureau in Japan. Status of Residence is often referred as "visa", however, technically "visa" is to be issued "to enter Japan", not "to reside in Japan". Here, we may often use the terms of "visa" or "visa status" instead of "Status of Residence" in our website for the convenience of foreign visitors.

There are approximately 30 types of Status of Residence divided by the purpose and activity in Japan. If you satisfy the requirement of one particular Status of Residence, you may apply for the COE for the status to stay in Japan for long term.

After entering Japan with the COE, you will receive Residence Card (click to jump to the page) according to your Status of Residence. You may stay in Japan during the period stated on the card and engage in the activity within the limits of Status of Residence.

Where to Apply

Immigration Bureau is consisted of 8 regional Immigration Office and other branch offices. The application must be filed at proper Immigration Office. The following 1 – 3 shows where to apply.

  1. In case of application for Certificate of Eligibility (COE):
    Generally, this application must be filed at regional Iimmigration Office within the jurisdiction over the address of your sponsor (hosting organization/company/person).
  2. In case of application for Temporary Visitor visa:
    Japan Embassy
    or Consulate-General near you. For more details of Temporary Visitor visa, visit the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
  3. Other than above:
    Generally, the application must be filed at regional Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over your residence address (applicant’s residence address).

Check out the jurisdictional area of your case by List of Jurisdictional Area on Immigration Bureau webpage.

Our Service areas:
Mainly Jurisdictional Areas of Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau (Osaka Immigration Office): Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Nara, Shiga, Wakayama).

Also, we are happy to provide our service outside the areas above (Additional charge is required. Please request our quote/estimate from Inquiry Form.)

If you wishes to reside and/or work in Japan…

First, you must consider whether you are applicable to one particular Status of Residence. Please check Criteria and the Requirements. After confirming that you satisfy the requirement, you will apply for the COE. >> Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application

You will be required to take proper immigration procedures after you obtain the visa status and reside in Japan in case of the following:

  • you leave Japan for a while during holiday seasons in order to go back home or travel other countries.
  • you extend/renew your visa.
  • you change your job and occupation, find a new job, and start your own business.
  • you apply for Permanent Resident.

You can check Types of Immigration Procedures after residing in Japan (click to jump to the page) here for the details.

In addition to the immigration procedures above, it is good to get to know about other administrative procedures in Japan regarding residence registration, national insurance, taxes and so on in advance of the visa application. Every country has its own rules and regulations, so be prepared for it by looking for the information through the internet. Here is the website of Osaka-city, a major city in Japan – you can study the administrative system and the procedures in Osaka. >> A Guide for living in Osaka

Criteria and Requirements

At first you should understand immigration procedures in general if you intend to reside in Japan. After that, you need to consider what visa status would be applicable to your situation and whether you would satisfy the requirement for the visa status.

Criteria for the visa application are comprehensive – basically, you must consider all of them as follows:

(1) The applicant must have a reason to come and stay in Japan and have a hosting person/organization/company in Japan.

First of all, Immigration Office in Japan grant you a visa only when you have specific reason or objectives to stay in Japan and you are recognized to satisfy the requirements for visa status. Also, the applicant must find a hosting person/company/organization in Japan related to your objectives.

For example, if you would like to come to Japan for work, you need to find an employer in Japan first. If you want to study something such as language, Karate, Judo, other martial arts which are peculiar to Japan, Soroban, Shuji, and Sado, you need to find a school, teacher, or organization to study.

In case of considering expanding business into Japan or setting up a business entity (representative office, branch or subsidiary/company) in Japan, you should start with finding what types of business entity would be appropriate for your situation. Also, in this case, you may need to come to Japan with Temporary Visitor visa at the time of application. That is because, in most of the case, you may be the only one who represent the entity and may not have a hosting person/organization except yourself.

(2) The applicant must be applicable to one particular Status of Residence and satisfy the requirement.

The foreign nationals who intend to stay in Japan must be recognized to be eligible for one of Status of Residence designated by Immigration Office in Japan and need to satisfy the requirement.

Here, you can confirm it by checking the requirements of Status of Residence >> Types of Visa Status (Status of Residence)

(3) The applicant must not have a bad behavior.

Specifically, those who have any criminal records or legal penalties will be judged less capability to adapt to circumstances in Japan, so it could be one of the reason of refusal of application.

(4) The applicant (or/and the guarantor) must be recognized as financially stable.

You or/and your guarantor must be recognized to have financial stability or ability enough to make a living while staying in Japan.

(5) The applicant must be deemed to pay taxes properly.

You are required to file for tax return and pay taxes properly after you reside in Japan. If you fail to do it, Immigration Office would consider your situation negatively and they might not approve you to extend your period of stay.

(6) The applicant must fulfill duties of the administrative procedures and laws and regulations in Japan.

You must take necessary procedures or report and notify properly in case you change your residence, job (employer), school, organization, marrital status, or other circumstances. Especially, you should be careful about the change of the items written on Residence Card after residing in Japan.

In addition, you must follow the rules and regulations in Japan which is not always the same as your country.

(7) Labor condition of the applicant must apply to the laws and regulations in Japan in case of working visa.

There are laws and regulations regarding labor conditions in Japan. Your conditions and labor contract must be made in accordance with the laws and regulations. In general, employer has responsibility for the conditions of their employees, so Immigration Office will take it into consideration in case the employer violates the labor laws and regulations.

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