PROCEDURES: Overview

If you are currently residing overseas outside Japan, you need to obtain specific “visa” according to your objectives to visit Japan and the period of stay.

Visa procedures to enter Japan are mainly divided into two types; Short-term Stay and Long-term Stay.

If you would like to reside in Japan for working, studying or staying with your Japanese relatives in Japan etc., you may jump to Long-term Stay below.

(1) SHORT-TERM STAY (Temporary Visitor)

Stay in Japan for a short period for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, or business trip (e.g. business meeting, market research, attending conventions/exhibitions etc.) which does not involve any income. You need Temporary Visitor visa to enter Japan for those purposes.

Separate from the Immigration Bureau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has authority for Temporary Visitor visa application. Therefore, you need to apply for it at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in the jurisdiction over your residence address outside Japan. You cannot apply for this in/from Japan.

As an exception, those who are from particular countries listed in the Visa Exemption Arrangements are exempted from Temporary Visitor visa based on the decision of the arrangement.
>> Jump to List of Visa Exemption
>> Jump to the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

(2) LONG-TERM STAY

Stay in Japan not applicable to Temporary Visitor visa.
Basically, you must apply for Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for one particular visa status in advance of coming to Japan through your visa sponsor who wishes to invite you to Japan and sponsor your visa application for the activity (e.g. school, employer, organization and relatives designated depending on the visa status you are applying for).
>> VISA STATUS: Basic Criteria

Also, refer to the following items on this page to get more necessary information for immigration in Japan:

(*) Visa (ビザ・査証) and Visa/Residence Status (在留資格)

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 Visa/residence status (在留資格 Zairyu-Shikaku) designated by the Japan Immigration Office. Visa/residence status is often referred to as simply “visa”. Technically, however, the term visa (ビザ・査証) formally indicates “a permit to ENTER Japan”, not “a permit to RESIDE/WORK in Japan”. “Visa status” or “residence status” is more appropriate and precise word to indicate 在留資格 (Zairyu-shikaku), but we may sometimes use the word “visa” to refer to 在留資格 (visa status) for your convenience.

There are approximately 30 types of visa status categorized based on purpose and activity in Japan. You need to find one particular visa status which is the most applicable to your situation. Each visa status has its requirement and you need to satisfy it as well as other basic criteria to apply for the COE.

The Immigration Office will issue the COE and grant you specific period of stay under the visa status if you satisfy basic criteria and requirement and you are recognized to be eligible for the visa status. After the COE is issued, 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. The process and necessary documents for entry visa application with the COE depending on the country you reside. You should contact directly to the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General for the details.

After flying to Japan under the entry visa with the COE, you will receive Residence Card(在留カード, Zairyu Card) 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, or what we call Visa Renewal (在留期間更新 Zairyu-kikan Koshin), if you would like to continue your activity allowed under the same visa status.

Once you obtain Residence Card and start residing in Japan, you will need to process various administrative procedures as well as immigration procedures as a long-term resident in Japan.

IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES

There are various types of immigration procedures you should process at the Immigration Office in Japan depending on the situation, such as;

>> Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application
In case you are currently outside Japan and not obtaining a Residence Card yet, and you wish to obtain visa/residence status to reside and/or engage in the activity in Japan for a long term.

>> Extension of Period of Stay (Visa Renewal)
In case you already obtain a Residence Card and you wish to extend the period of stay to continue your activity in Japan.

>> Change of Visa Status
In case you already obtain a Residence Card under a specific visa status but you wish to change your activity to which will not applicable to your current visa status;

  • Example 1: you have currently Engineer/Humanities visa status, you wish to quit your job to set up a company and manage the business.
  • Example 2: you have currently Student visa status, you will find a job in Japan after graduating the school/university.
  • Example 3: you have currently Spouse of Japanese visa status, you divorce to your Japanese spouse and wish to continue your job applicable to Engineer/Humanities visa status and reside in Japan.
  • Example 4: you have currently HSP (Highly Skilled Professional) visa status, and you will quit your job and find other job which is also applicable to HSP visa status.

>> Notification of Accepting/contracting Organization
In case you obtain work-related visa status and you change/quit/start your job.
* your new job must be also applicable to your current visa status.

>> Special Re-entry Permit or Re-entry Permit
In case you are planning to travel outside Japan during the period of stay granted under the visa status.

>> Permission to Engage in Other Activity
In case you are planning to engage in activity which is not allowed under your current visa status while continuing your current activity.
Example 1: you have Student or Dependent visa status, and you would like to engage in a part-time job in your spare time.

>> Report regarding Japanese Spouse
In case you have Spouse visa status, and you got divorced or your Japanese spouse was deceased.

>> Renewal of Residence Card
In case you are a Permanent Resident and your Residence Card will be expired soon.

VISA SPONSOR

Visa sponsor is not a person who is required to support the applicant’s stay in Japan financially. The term visa sponsor is often referred to a person (organization/company/school etc.) who invites the applicant for activity in Japan and acts as a proxy for the application. Each COE application form must be signed by the visa sponsor as a proxy.

Basically, the COE application must be submitted while either the applicant or the inviting person (visa sponsor) is in Japan even if you/your sponsor hires the immigration lawyer. Immigration lawyer can help you or your visa sponsor with preparing documents, submitting application and communicating with the Immigration Office. However, Immigration lawyer is not allowed to be your visa sponsor or your proxy for your application.

If you would like to work in Japan, you need to find a job and an employer who is willing to hire you and to be your visa sponsor in Japan first. If you want to engage in studying/learning something like 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 as their student and to be your visa sponsor for your COE application.

In case of COE application based on a newly setup business entity (representative office, branch office or subsidiary/company) in Japan and there is no staff or person who can represent the entity, you should come to Japan under Temporary Visitor visa to sign the application form as your visa sponsor, the representative of the entity in Japan. The COE application must be submitted while you are staying in Japan. You may leave Japan after submitting the documents, and stay outside Japan during the period of screening of the application.

WHERE TO APPLY

Each application must be submitted to proper office depending on what types of application you would like.

Here’s several cases;

  1. In case of Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application:
    Generally, this application must be submitted at the regional Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over the address of your visa sponsor who wishes to invite the applicant and hire you in Japan.

    >> Jump to the list of Immigration Office in Japan.

  2. In case of Temporary Visitor Visa Application:
    Generally, it must be submitted at the Japan Embassy or Consulate-General within the jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence address outside Japan. Temporary Visitor visa application is authorized by the MOFA and the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General overseas, not the Japan Immigration Bureau. We cannot take care of this application and submit on your behalf from Japan.

    >> Jump to the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan.

  3. Other than above (e.g. Extension of Period of Stay, Change of Visa Status etc.) :
    Generally, the application must be submitted at the regional Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over your residence address (applicant’s residence address registered at the city/ward office). Those types of application require to present the original of your passport and residence card at the time of submission.
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