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Visa & Immigration procedure in Japan

How to obtain a visa for Japan

To be able to enter and stay in Japan, it is necessary to obtain a visa (status of residence) in advance.

The category of visa that you will need to apply for depends on the type of activities that you intend to engage in Japan.

If you are coming to Japan only for a short period of time and will not engage in remunerated activities (sight-seeing, visiting familes and friends, attending business meetings...), you can apply for the "temporary visitor visa" (generally called "tourist visa") directly at the Japanese Embassy / Consulate nearby.

Citizens of the countries having visa exemption arrangements with Japan can arrive in Japan only with the passport without going through any procedure in advance, unless you intend to stay for a long priod of time or to work.

>> List of countries having visa exemption arrangements with Japan

If you intend to stay longer or wish to work, it is necessary to obtain a long term visa.

To be able to do so, it is first necessary to determine which type of visa you qualify for.

This also means that you need to have found a job in Japan if you are applying for a working visa, or a school if you are applying for a student visa.

>> Different types of visa (status of residence) in Japan


Once you have chosen the type of visa that best suits your case, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (if you don't live in Japan under a long term visa yet).


Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

To obtain a long term visa while living outside of Japan, it is first necessary to apply for the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) at the immigration office in Japan, rather than applying at the Japanese Embassy / Consulate directly.

The application can be submitted by a familiy member staying in Japan (for the family related visa), by a personnel of the hosting organizations (for other types of visa), by the applicant himself visiting Japan with a temporary visa, or by the Immigration Lawyers like us.

The fact that you have applied for the COE doesn't give you the right to stay in Japan after the expiration of the temporary visitor visa, so if it will expire before the COE is issued, it is necessary to leave Japan.

It takes about 1-2 months to receive the result of the application. Once the COE is issued, you can then go to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate nearby, in order to have the visa issued/stamped on your passport, which will only take a couple of days.

>> Different types of visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advise


Change of visa status

If you are already in Japan with some kind of long term visa and wish to change it to another type of visa while staying in Japan, it is necessary to file the application for the change of your visa status at the nearest Immigration office.

It is also possible to change from the temporary visitor visa (tourist visa) to another type of visa only if the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is issued within the validity of your temporary visitor visa. It is therefore not possible to change directly from the temporary visitor visa to another type of long term visa except for the "Spouse of Japanese national" visa.

It is necessary to apply for the change of visa status when...

  • a student or a dependent visa holder has found a full-time work
  • married or divorced with a Japanese national
  • changed jobs to a different category of work...etc.

If you submit the application for the change of visa status just before your current visa rexpires, your visa is automatically extended for 2 months, during which time the application is processed and the result is notified.

It is possible to travel outside of Japan while the application of the change of visa status is being processed as long as you will come back to Japan before the end of this 2 months extension.

In case your application is rejected, a new temporary status will be given, which will allow you to prepare for the departure.

The application for the permanent residence is by the way a completely separate procedure and you will still need to extend your current visa if it will be expired while the application for permanent is in process (which takes generally about 6 to 8 months).

Please note therefore that the fact that you have applied for the permanent resident doesn't automatically give you the right to stay, so make sure not to forget to extend your visa until the permanent residency is finally granted.

>> Different types of visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advise



Visa renewal in Japan

All the visas (status of residence) except for Permanent Resident have a certain period of stay and need therefore to be extended if you wish to stay longer.

The application for the visa renewal is to be submitted at the nearest Immigration office. There is no limit for the number of extension that can be granted (except for some types of visa such as Trainee and Cultural Activities), as long as you meet all the requirements.

Once the application for the visa renewal is submitted, your current visa is automatically extended for 2 months, during which time the application is processed and the result is notified.

It is possible to travel outside of Japan while the application for the visa renewal is being processed as long as you will come back to Japan before the end of this 2 months extension.

In case your application is rejected, a new temporary status will be given, which will allow you to prepare for the departure.

If you return to Japan 2 months after the visa expiration date, your visa will be cancelled even if the renewal application is in process.

>> Different types of visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advise



Where to apply for a visa for Japan

All the application for Certificate of Eligibility (COE), for the change of visa status and for the visa renewal is to be made at Immigration Bureau of your (future) place of residence in Japan :

>>LIST OF IMMIGRATION OFFICES IN JAPAN

Once you have your COE, you will then need to get a visa at Japanese Embassy or Consulate in your own country. There is no COE for Tourist visa and Working Holiday visa, so the application is to be made directly to the Embassy or Consulate.

>>LIST OF JAPANESE ENBASSY AND CONSULATE


>> Different types of visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advise



Certified as an Immigration Lawyer by the immigration office, we can help you with obtaining an appropriate visa and with other immigration procedures.

For more information, click here.



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