Types of Immigration Procedures

There are various types of visa/immigration procedures in Japan depending on the situation. Here’s major procedures you will need to process at the Immigration Office;

(1) Those who are planning to coming to Japan under specific visa status
Those who currently reside outside Japan and don’t obtain Residence Card yet, but wishes to enter and reside in Japan under a spesific visa status -> Certificate of Eligibilty (COE) Application

(2) Those who obtain Residence Card and residing in Japan already

These appliations must be submitted to the relevant Immigration Office. Generally, (1) above should be filed at the Immigration Office in the jurisdiction over the address of your visa sponsor or proxy. (2) should be filed at the Immigration Office in the jurisdiction over your registered residence address.

Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application

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

** 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. **

If you are not familiar with visa and immigration system in Japan, you must refer to the following page first. >> INTRODUCTION: Overview of Visa and Immigration System in Japan

The COE application requires that the applicant should find a person or an entity who accepts you in Japan and support your visa application as the visa sponsor (employer, teacher/school or relatives depending on what visa status you are applying for). Since the applicant is outside Japan yet, the visa sponsor will be considered as your proxy for the COE application and submit the application on behalf of the applicant.

Immigration Lawyer can take care of each COE application and submit the application on behalf of the applicant. However, technically, Immigration Lawyer cannot be a proxy of the application itself – it requires signature of the applicant or the visa sponsor on the application form. Also, the COE application must be submitted to the Immigration Office while the signer (the applicant or visa sponsor) is in Japan.

Necessary Documents

Application forms and necessary documents are different depending on the type of visa status and your situation.

Go to Types of Status of Residence page and find what type of visa status you need to apply and check out whether you would satisfy the requirements first. Basically, you will need to provide the documents which can prove your eligibility of the visa status you are applying for.

After submitting the COE application, the Immigration Office would request additional documents to confirm your situation. However, it is better to provide consistent documents as many as possible at the time of submission of application.

Application Fee

Immigration tax for the COE application is free of charge. You will need service fees and actual expenses if you hire an immigration lawyer for the application.

Process of the COE Application

Here, you will see how the COE application will be processed in general.

    1. Find out whether you (both your situation and your visa sponsor) could satisfy the criteria and requirements for the application. Check the following page >> INTRODUCTION: Overview of Visa and Immigration System in Japan.
    2. Look for a visa sponsor who can be your proxy in Japan and can support your visa application. Visa sponsor (or proxy) for each visa status is designated by the law.
    3. Prepare documents for the COE application and collect necessary documents to prove your eligibility for the status.
      * In case you hire an Immigration Lawyer/Specialist, he/she will assist the whole process from here after confirming your eligibility for the visa status.
    4. Your visa sponsor (or Immigration Lawyer) submits your COE application to the relevant Immigration Office.
      * You might need to come to Japan with short-stay (temporary) visa at the time of application depending on which status you are applied for (e.g Business Manager visa based on the newly established company which doesn’t have any director besides the applicant / Intra-Company Transferee with newly established entity which doesn’t have any staff in Japan yet).
      * You can enter Japan as a Temorary Visitor during the period of screening.

      ↓Screening by the Immigration Office (1 – 3 months)
      The Immigration Office might contact your proxy (visa sponsor) or Immigration Lawyer if they would like to request additional documents for your application.
    5. Your COE will be issued and sent to your proxy or Immigration lawyer. They forward the COE to to your residence address overseas.
    6. After the COE is delivered to you overseas, you need to apply for entry visa with the COE at the Japan Embassy/Consulate-General in your resident country.
      * The COE is valid for 3 months after the date of issue and you need to enter Japan with the entry visa and the COE before the date of expiry.
    7. After the entry visa with the COE is issued, you may fly to Japan.
    8. Your Residence Card is issued at the airport immigration counter when you enter Japan.  Here, you finally obtains your visa status to reside in Japan. >> Check Residence Card page.
    9. You need to register your residence address at City Hall or Ward Office in the jurisdiction over the address within 14 days after you decide your residence address in Japan. >> Check Residence Registration page.
  • This process does NOT apply to the application for Temporary Visitors.
  • In general, Temporary Visitor who already enters Japan cannot apply for Change of Visa Status directly without applying for the COE. He/she must apply for the COE first.
  • 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.
  • After submitting the COE application, the applicant can fly back and forth from his/her 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 change the visa status from Temporary Visitor to the visa status by applying for Change of Visa Status depending on the situation. In that case, you can convert the COE to Residence Card directly without going back to your resident country.
  • The Immigration Office will not tell anything about the timing of the issuance of the COE.

Special Re-entry Permit or Re-entry Permit

In case you want to go outside Japan for a while to travel, business, or see your family and reenter Japan again, you are required to have Re-entry Permit.

(A) In case you will reenter Japan within 1 year of your departure and continue your activities in Japan after reentering Japan. -> Special Re-entry Permit

In this case, you don’t need to apply for Re-entry Permit – just be sure to present your residence card at the airport and check the column indicating your intention of departure by the Special Re-entry Permit System on an ED card for Special Re-entry Permit.

[Note] You will lose your resident status if you fail to reenter Japan within 1 year of your departure with Special Re-entry Permit. Also, please ensure that you reenter Japan before the expiration of your period of stay stated on your Residence Card.

(B) In case you will reenter Japan more than 1 year after your departure and intend to continue your activities in Japan after reentering Japan. -> Re-entry Permit

In this case, you need to apply for Re-entry Permit at the Immigration Office in the jurisdiction of your residence before you leave Japan to other country. The duration of Re-entry Permit is 5 years and there are 2 types of Permit – Single or Multiple.

  • Single: you can reenter Japan only once within the period of expiration of Re-entry Permit (5 years). Application fee is 3,000JPY.
  • Multiple: you can reenter Japan any times withing the period of expiration of Re-entry Permit (5 years). Application fee is 6,000JPY.

Immigration Office issues Re-entry Permit on the same day of the application.

Change of Status of Residence

In case you already have your Residence Card under specific Status of Residence, but you are planning to change your activity as following examples, be sure to apply for Change of Status of Residence before you actually change the activities.

Remember that you need to confirm that you can satisfy requirements of Status of Residence you intend to change to before you decide to quit current activity.

[Examples]

  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 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 got a divorce or lost your Japanese spouse.

In other words, you should apply for “Change of Status of Residence” regardless of the expiration of current visa if you are going to quit your current activity and change to a new one in Japan.

Note that you cannot engage in the new activity before Immigration Office approve your application of “Change of Status of Residence”.

Necessary Forms and Documents

You must file “Change of Status of Residence” with necessary documents in order to certify that you are eligible for new activity which you are going to engage in. The documents are varied depending on the desired Status of Residence.

Application Fee

Application fee at Immigration Office is 4,000JPY. It should be paid at the time of approval.

Standard Processing Time at Immigration Office

2 weeks to a month.

Extension of Period of Stay

In case you want to extend the period of your current visa status, be sure to file the application for “Extension of Period of Stay” before the expiration of your period of stay – you cannot overstay in Japan even a day. If you fail to apply for it by the date of expiration, you lose your Resident Card and have to leave Japan.

You may apply for “Extension of Period of Stay” 6 months before the expiration of your current visa status in case you have more than 6 months period of stay.

Necessary Forms and Documents

You must file “Extension of Period of Stay” with supporting documents. The required documents are different depending on your Status of Residence.

Application Fee

Application fee at Immigration Office is 4,000JPY. It should be paid at the time of approval.

Standard Processing Time at Immigration Office

2 weeks to a month.

Permission to Engage in Other Activity (Shikaku-gai Katsudou Kyoka)

In case those who are Student status, Dependent status or any other status want to engage in a part-time job or a different types of activity from your current status and get paid, you should file the application for Permission to Engage in Other Activity which called as Shikaku-gai Katsudou Kyoka in Japanese.

Permit of Sihkaku-gai Katsudou will be issued if the immigration office allows you to engage in different types of job other than the activity which is allowed under your current visa status. You should carry this permit all the time when you engage in the activity written on the permit.

Please refer to the following page for the details: Permission to Engage in Other Activity

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