Change of Visa Status

In case you already have a Residence Card under specific visa status, but you are planning to change your activity which is not applicable to your current visa status, you must apply for Change of Visa Status before you actually start engaging in the activity.

Before quitting your current activity, you should confirm whether your plan is applicable to one particular visa status as well as you can satisfy the requirement.

Please note that you are not allowed to engage in other activities before you change you visa status or obtain a permission for engaging in the other activities, but you need to find a relevant visa sponsor for your visa status before applying for change of visa status.

Example situation

  1. You are currently holding Student visa status, but want to look for a job without leaving Japan after graduation or find a employer who is willing to hire you in Japan.
  2. You are currently holding Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services visa status, but you are trying to quit your job in order to start your own business and set up a company in Japan.
  3. You are currently holding a specific type of working visa status, but you are going to quit your job in order to enter a university in Japan.
  4. You are currently holding a Spouse of Japanese visa status, but you divorced or lost your Japanese spouse.
  5. You are currently holding one of the Highly Skilled Professionals (HSP) visa status, and you left/quit your current employer and found other job applicable to HSP visa status.

It would be possible that you don’t need to apply for Change of Visa Status if you are planning to engage in the same field of job/business which is also applicable to your current visa status.

For example, let’s say you are currently obtaining Engineer/Humanities visa status and you would like to leave your current employer, but would like to engage in the same type of job as soon as possible. In this case, you don’t need to apply for Change of Visa Status. You need to report your quitting job and starting a new job by submitting the Notification regarding accepting/contracting company.
>> Notification of Accepting/Contracting Organization

Also, you should discuss with your employer-to-be that your situation and the company satisfy the requirement of Engineer/Humanities visa status, especially in case the company is newly setup or hasn’t hired any employees with the work-type visa status.

If you would like to change your visa status to Business Manager by setting up a new company, you should be prepared for it in advance. You need to set up a company satisfying the requirement of Business Manager visa first before applying for Change of Visa Status.

Basic Required Documents

Application form and basic supporting documents are different depending on what types of visa status you are applying for.

Basically, you will need to provide documents to clarify and certify your eligibility for the new activity so it requires almost the same documents as the COE application for each visa status.
>> List of Visa Status

Application Fee

It costs 4,000 yen for Immigration Tax. You will pay it when you pick up a Residence Card for the new visa status after approval of the application.
If you hire Immigration Lawyer, you will need their fees.

Process of Application for Change of Visa Status

Processing period
Standard Processing period of the Immigration Office is 2-4 weeks. It requires more time depending on the timing of application and the case.
The Immigration Office cannot tell you the date of decision.

Basic Process

  1. Check whether you (both your situation and your visa sponsor) could satisfy the criteria and requirement for one particular visa status.
  2. Look for a visa sponsor who can be applicable to your application for change. Who to be a visa sponsor is different depending on the visa status.
    Generally, your employer-to-be in Japan should be your visa sponsor if you are applying for Change of Visa Status to work in Japan. In case of Spouse of Japanese, your Japanese Spouse should be your visa sponsor.
  3. Prepare and collect documents required for the visa status you are applying for change.
    In case you hire an Immigration Lawyer, he/she will assist the whole process on behalf of you and your visa sponsor after confirming whether you could be eligible for the visa status or not.
  4. You and visa sponsor will sign the application forms. Submit the application forms and other supplemental documents to the Immigration Office within the jurisdiction over the applicant’s registered residence address.

    ↓Screening and examination by the Immigration Office (2-4 weeks)
    Immigration Office cannot tell you and your Immigration lawyer about when the screening is completed.
    ↓Applicant has to be in Japan at the time of submission of the application.
    ↓You can leave and go back to Japan for travel etc. during the screening period.
    ↓Additional documents would be requested by the Immigration Office.

  5. Notice (a postcard) will be sent to your residence address (or Immigration Lawyer if you hire one) after your application is approved.
  6. After receiving the Notice, go to pick up your new Residence Card to the Immigration Office (If you hire a immigration lawyer, he/she will go to pick it up for you.) In order to pick up the new card, you will need to present the original of your current Residence Card and Passport. Also, you will pay the Immigration Tax by the revenue stamp on the payment statement at the window.
  7. Now you can start engaging in the new activity.

NOTE

  • You need to be in Japan at the time of submission of your application since you need to present the original of your passport and current Residence Card.
  • You need to be in Japan when you pick up your new Residence Card after approval of the application. You need to present the original of passport and current Residence Card when you pick up your new card.
  • You can travel outside Japan during the screening of the application. However, you will need to pick up your new Residence Card 2 months before the expiry date of your current visa status.
  • You must inform the Immigration Office about any change of the items in the application form and supplemental documents.
  • Immigration Office cannot tell you the date of decision for your application.

IN CASE OF DENIAL OF YOUR APPLICATION

If your application is denied, the Notice of Denial will be sent to you or your visa sponsor (or Immigration Lawyer if you or your visa sponsor hired one for the case).

You should go to the Immigration Office with the Notice to ask the reason for the denial (Immigration Lawyer can be accompanied by you or the Immigration Office can tell directly to the Immigration Lawyer alone in some case).

The Immigration Office would advise you what the major issue for the denial is and possibility of reapplication. If the reason is not crucial, you can try to reapply after as soon as possible.

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