INTRODUCTION: Overview of Immigration System in Japan

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

(1) Short-term Stay :

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 type of stay in Japan, however, foreign nationals from the countries listed in Exemption of Visa (jump to the MOFA of Japan website) 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 in your country/city. For more information on Temporary Visitor visa, please visit the MOFA of Japan website.

(2) Long-term Stay:

Stay of over 90 days for work, study or other activities allowed under the Status of Residence (*) designated by the Immigration Office in Japan. In this case, you must apply for Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for specific Status of Residence (visa status) in advance of coming to Japan based on the activity you intend to engage in during stay in Japan.

The Immigration Office will issue the COE and grant you specific period of stay only in case you satisfy Criteria and the Requirements. After the issue of the COE, you need to apply for entry visa 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 of stay stated on the card and engage in the activity within the limits of Status of Residence.

Where to Apply

Immigration Bureau of Japan is consisted of 8 regional Immigration Offices 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 Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over the address of your visa sponsor (host organization/company/person).
  2. In case of application for Temporary Visitor visa:
    Generally, it must be filed at the Japan Embassy
    or Consulate-General in your country/city/region. For more details of Temporary Visitor visa, visit the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)of Japan.
  3. Other than above:
    Generally, the application must be filed at the regional Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over your residence address (applicant’s residence address).

You can check the jurisdictional area for your case here: List of Jurisdictional Area (the Immigration Bureau of Japan website).

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

Also, we are happy to provide our services 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 you satisfy the requirement, you may 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, then consider what visa status would be applicable to your situation and whether you would satisfy the requirements for the visa status.

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 host person/organization/company to sponsor your visa application in Japan.

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, the applicant must find a host person/company/organization to sponsor you visa application in Japan depending on your objectives to come.

For example, if you would like to come to Japan to engage in working activities with pay, you need to find an employer in Japan to sponsor your visa application 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 (branch office 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 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 a host 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 the Status of Residence designated by the Immigration Office of Japan and need to satisfy the requirement.

Here, you can find the list 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 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.

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