Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application

In case you are currently living outside Japan and wishing to obtain a visa status in order to stay in Japan for particular purpose, basically you need to apply for Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for one specific visa status applicable to your intended activity in Japan.

Exception

There are some cases (basically, situation applicable to Long-Term Resident visa status or 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 under Temporary Visitor visa in advance of application for Change of Visa Status while staying in Japan.

In order to process the COE application, you should find a person or an entity who are willing to invite and accept you in Japan and support your visa application as your visa sponsor (employer, representative of school or relatives depending on what visa status you are applying for). Since you are outside Japan yet, the visa sponsor will be considered as a proxy to sign your application forms and submit the application on your behalf.

Immigration Lawyer is not allowed to be a proxy or a visa sponsor, but he/she can take care of the case, submit the application and communicate with the Immigration Office for the application on behalf of you or your visa sponsor.

>> Jump to PROCEDURES Overview to know visa sponsor etc.

Basic required documents

Application forms and supporting documents are different depending on types of visa status and your situation.
>> VISA STATUS: Basic Criteria
>> LIST of VISA STATUS

The Immigration Office discloses basic documents required for each visa status, however, they may require different and additional documents case by case since each applicant has different situation, nationality, background, purpose of activity in Japan, visa sponsor etc. – there is no one who is exactly in the same situation like you.

Therefore, you should provide consistent and comprehensive documents to clarify your background and experience etc. and to certify your eligibility for the visa status. It would be possible that the Immigration Office will request further documentation while screening of your application.

Application Fee

Immigration tax for the COE application is free of charge. If you hire an immigration lawyer for the application it would cosst their service fee and actual expenses.

Process of the COE Application

Period of screening:
It takes around 1 – 3 months for the screening of the Immigration Office after submitting the application. In some cases, especially the application at the Tokyo Immigration Office, the Immigration Office might need more time to complete their screening.

Expiry date of the COE:
COE has its expiry date – it will be expired 3 months after the date of issue.

Process:

  1. Check whether you (both your situation and your visa sponsor) could satisfy the criteria and requirement for one particular visa status.
    >> PROCEDURES Overview
  2. Look for a visa sponsor who can be your proxy for the COE application in Japan. 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 COE for working 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 the COE.
    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. Your visa sponsor signs the application form and submits it to the relevant Immigration Office.
    You might need to come to Japan as Temporary Visitor at the time of application depending on which status you are applying for (e.g Business Manager visa based on a newly setup company which doesn’t have any representative besides you / Intra-Company Transferee visa with a newly setup entity which doesn’t have any staff in Japan yet etc.).


    Screening and examination by the Immigration Office (1-3 months)
    Immigration Office cannot tell you and your Immigration lawyer about when the screening is completed or when the COE is issued.

    You can enter/leave Japan as a Temporary Visitor during the period of screening.
    The Immigration Office might contact your visa sponsor (Immigration Lawyer if you or your visa sponsor hires one) if they would like to request additional documents for your application.

  5. Your COE will be issued and sent to your visa sponsor (Immigration lawyer if you or your visa sponsor hires one). They forward the COE to to your residence address outside Japan.
  6. After you receive the COE sent from Japan, you need to apply for entry visa with the COE at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in your resident country. You should contact the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in your resident country directly by yourself for the process of entry visa application with the COE since the process and necessary documents are different in each country, and we cannot handle the entry visa application from Japan.
    The COE is valid for 3 months after the date of issue and you need to enter Japan with the valid COE.
  7. After the entry visa with the COE is issued at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General, you must fly to Japan before the COE is expired.
  8. You will receive your Residence Card stating your visa status and the period of stay etc. in exchange for the COE at the airport immigration counter when you arrive in Japan. After receiving your Residence Card, you finally obtain your visa status to reside in Japan and engage in the activity based on the visa status.
  9. You need to register your residence address in Japan at the city/ward Office in the jurisdiction over the address within 14 days after you decide your residence address in Japan. After you register your residence address, you become a long-term resident in Japan.
    In case the period of stay of your visa status is less than 3 months or your visa status is not subject to the residence registration, you don’t need to register (or cannot register) your residence address in Japan.

You will need to take procedures (immigratioin as well as administrative) when necessary while you are residing in Japan with Residence Card.
>> Jump to PROCEDURES Overview

NOTE

  • This process does NOT apply to the application for Temporary Visitors.
  • Basically, with a few exceptions, you cannot apply for Change of Visa Status from Temporary Visitor to a visa status without applying for the COE in advance.
  • 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, you need to enter Japan as a temporary visitor first, then apply for Change of Visa Status while staying in Japan.
  • After submitting the COE application, you can fly back and forth from your resident country to Japan as a Temporary Visitor.
  • If you are in Japan as a Temporary Visitor at the time of issue of the COE, it would be possible that you can convert the COE to the Residence Card without going back to your resident country by applying for Change of Visa Status from Temporary Visitor to your visa status depending on the situation.
  • The Immigration Office will not tell anything about the timing of the issuance of the COE during the screening/examination period.

IN CASE OF DENIAL OF YOUR COE APPLICATION

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

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

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

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