INTRODUCTION: Overview of Immigration System in Japan

Before you consult a immigration professional, you should understand overview of how Japanese immigration procedures works.

Application procedures to enter Japan are mainly divided into two types according to your objectives to visit Japan and the period of stay as follows:

(1) Short-term Stay :

Stay of up to 90 days for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, or business trip (e.g. buinsess meeting, market research, attending conventions/exhibitions etc.) which does not involve any income. Temporary Visitor visa is required for this type of stay in Japan, however, those who are from particular countries listed in the Visa Exemption Arrangements (jump to the MOFA of Japan website) are exempted from obtaining this Temporary Visitor visa.

You need to apply for the Temporary Visitor visa at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in the jurisdiction over your residence address outide Japan. For more information on Temporary Visitor visa, please visit the MOFA of Japan websiteand contact the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in your country outside Japan.

(2) Long-term Stay:

Stay of over 90 days for work, study or other activities allowed under the Status of Residence, or visa status, (*) designated by the Immigration Office in Japan. Basically in this case, you must apply for Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for particular visa status in advance of coming to Japan through your visa sponsor who wishes to invite the applicant to Japan for the activity (e.g. school, employer, organization and relatives designated depending on the visa status you are applying for) >> Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application.

** As an exception, there are some cases (especially, situation applicable to Long Term and Designated Activities visa status but not designated specifically by the Minister of Justice) that you need to apply for Change of Visa Status from Temporary Visitor to relevant visa status while you are in Japan without applying for the COE. In that case, the applicant needs to enter Japan as a temorary visitor first, then applies for Change of Visa Status while staying in Japan. **

The Immigration Office will issue the COE and grant you specific period of stay under the visa status if you satisfy Criteria and the Requirements and your considered you are eligible for the visa status. After the issue of the COE, you need to apply for entry visa with the COE at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General (or other related organization) in the jurisdiction over your residence address outside Japan.

After coming to Japan with the COE, you will receive Residence Card (click to jump to the page) for your visa status at the airport immigration counter. You may stay in Japan during the period of stay stated on the card and engage in the activity within the limits of the visa status. Depending on your situation, you may apply for Extension of Period of Stay (also called as “Visa Renewal”)” if you would like to continue your activity allowed under the same visa status.

Once you obtain Residence Card and start residing in Japan under the visa status, you will need to process various administrative procedures as well as immigration procedures as a resident in Japan.

You will need to take necessary procedures at the immigratioin office depending on your visa status after you obtain Residence Card, mainly when;

  • you wish to extend your period of stay.
  • you wish to change your visa status.
  • you change/quit/starat your job (work-type visa) .
  • you got devorced (spouse visa etc.) .
  • you need to leave Japan for more than a year (up to 5 years) and wish to reenter Japan under the same visa status before the date of expiry.
  • you want to engage in other activity which is not allowed under your current visa status.

You can check more details of each procedure on the following webpage; Types of Immigration Procedures

Here, you can get information about living in Japan, provided by the Ministry of Justice >> A DAILY LIVE SUPPORT PORTA FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS.
If you are planning to live in Osaka city, the following webpage might help you living in Osaka >> GUIDE FOR LIVING IN OSAKA.

(*) 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 or visa status (在留資格 Zairyu-Shikaku) designated by the Japan Immigration Bureau. Status of Residence is often referred as “visa status” or simply “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 (or visa status) divided by the purpose and activity in Japan, and you can check the list of visa status here. If you satisfy the requirement of one particular visa status and other criteria of visa application, you may apply for the COE to stay in Japan for long term.

Criteria and Requirements

Criteria for the visa application are comprehensive – basically, you must look into all of the items below:

(1) The applicant must have a reason to come and stay in Japan and have a “visa sponsor” designated based on Status of Residence (visa status) you are applying.

First of all, the Immigration Office in Japan grants 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, you need a visa sponsor who can support your visa application in Japan. If you don’t have any visa/residence status in Japan yet, you need a proper visa sponsor who can sign your application on behalf of you to apply for Certificate of Eligibility to invite you to Japan.

For example, if you would like to work in Japan, you need to find an employer who sponsor your visa application in Japan first. If you want to engage in studying/learning something such as Japanese Language, Karate, Judo, Soroban, Shuji, Ikebana, and Sado etc. which are peculiar to Japan, you need to find a person who is happy to accept you Japan as their student and willing to be your visa sponsor for your COE application.

In case of considering expanding business into Japan or setting up a business entity (branch office or subsidiary/company) in Japan, you should start with finding what types of business entity would be appropriate for your situation. Basically, a physical office space for the entity must be found in Japan and the entity must complete necessary registratioin before the COE application. Also, you will need to enter Japan with Temporary Visitor visa at the time of COE application if you are the only one who can represent the entity and may not have any person in Japan working for the entity except yourself.

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

The foreign nationals who intend to apply for the COE/visa status in Japan must be recognized to be eligible for one of the Status of Residence (visa status) designated by the Japanese Immigration Office. >> OVERVIEW of VISA STATUS (Status of Residence)

Your intended activity must be applicable to one of the visa status. Each visa status has it’s own requirement, and you need to certify your eligibility for the visa status by the documents. What documents the immigration office requires depend on the case even among the same visa status since each applicant has different situation – different nationality, different background, different purpose of activity in Japan, different visa sponsor etc. Each country has it’s own laws and regulation as well as customs, and the format of the official documents are not the same. You should understand the difference while planning or preparing your COE/visa application.

Do not try to make a lie or commit a fraud – it is quite easy to find the fraud if we see all the documents you provide and if we hear all the answer for our questions. The consistency of each documentation and evidence is important. The Japanese Immigration Office or any immigration lawyer don’t process your case by taking money under the table.

(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 and the sponsor (and guarantor when it is required) must be recognized as financially stable.

You and your sponsor (and guarantor) must be recognized to have financial/business 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 do the tax return in Japan (or “year end adjustment” for withholding tax if you are an employee and not required to do the tax return) and pay taxes properly during your stay in Japan. If you fail to do it, the Immigration Office would consider your situation negatively and they might not approve your visa renewal in Japan any more.

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

You must fulfill the responsibility and duties for your life in Japan and process relevant administrative procedures properly when you change your residence address, job (visa sponsor), school, organization, marrital status, or any other circumstances when it is necessary. Especially, you should be careful about the change of the items written on Residence Card after residing in Japan.

Please note that every country has its own rules and regulations, which is not always the same as your country.

(7) In case of working visa, the applicant’s labor condition must be appropriate, not against the laws and regulations in Japan.

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

Where to Apply

The application must be filed at proper office depending on what application you would like to submit.

Here’s several cases;

  1. In case of application for Certificate of Eligibility (COE):
    Generally, this application must be filed at the regional Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over the address of your visa sponsor who wishes to invite the applicant to Japan. You can check the jurisdictional area for your case here: List of Jurisdictional Area (the Immigration Bureau of Japan website).
  2. In case of application for Temporary Visitor visa:
    Generally, it must be filed at the Japan Embassy or Consulate-General within the jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence address oversease. For more details of Temporary Visitor visa, please visit the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)of Japan. This application is authorized by the MOFA and the Japan Emmbassy/Consulate-General overseas, not the Japan Immigration Bureau. We cannot take care of this application and submit on your behalf from Japan.
  3. Other than above (e.g. Extention of Period of Stay, Change of Visa Status etc.) :
    Generally, the application must be filed at the regional Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over your residence address (applicant’s residence address). The application other than 1 or 2 above, requires to present the original of passport and residence card of the applicant at the time of submission of the application.

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

We are happy to provide our services outside our service areas above, but additional charge (travel expenses and daily allowance) is required. Please request our quote/estimate from Inquiry Form.

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