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Ultimate Guide to Japanese Visa

By Camilla Vigotti and Yuki Kobayashi Purwanto | April 28, 2022 

Moving to a new country for work or study is a thrilling experience. Once you get your Japan Visa, you will be able to fly to Japan and start a new life. The only obstacle in this process is bureaucracy. Getting all of your paperwork ready to issue your Visa can be extremely stressful and confusing. Not only are there documents and forms you need to correctly fill in, but you also have to go through different offices as well. Moreover, because of the current pandemic, there have been some changes in immigration policies that require additional steps, prepping, and paperwork.

 In this Ultimate Guide, we will provide all the necessary information for you to get your Japanese Visa without too much stress. 

This article is a part of our extensive series on Japanese Culture and Online Japanese Lessons at Japan Switch.

Note: This article does not provide legal advice. If required, please refer to a Visa expert such as Tsuyoshi Kawaguchi or an attorney.

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    What Are The Requirements to Get a Visa in Japan?

    There are different types of visas in Japan that you can apply for depending on your purpose, economic situation, skills, and country of origin. When it comes to migration, each country has different policies and agreements with Japan so it's important that you are aware of what relationship your country has. 

    We will get into details on the different main types of Visas later on, but for now, the general idea is that if you meet one or more of these requirements you are eligible to apply for a Japan Visa.

    Type of Visa

    Requirement

    Working Visa

    University degree

    Working holiday Visa

    Working holiday visa agreement

    Under 30 years old with $2,500-4,000 (USD) in savings

    Japanese student Visa (language school, educational institute, or university)

    Considerable amount of savings available (more than $10,000)

    Child of a Japanese citizen Visa

    Japanese ancestry: Japanese parent(s)

    Long-term resident Visa in Japan

    Japanese ancestry: Japanese grandparent(s)

    Japanese spouse Visa

    Japanese spouse ( Japan only recognize legal marriages so couples who are in common law or de facto relationship aren’t recognized. Although Japan is tolerant of homosexual relationships, it is rather difficult to sponsor a same-sex spouse under the Japanese spouse visa).

    What if you don’t meet any of those requirements?

    If you don’t meet any of the previously mentioned requirements for a Japan Visa, fear not because there are other options that you can consider.

    Option 1: Getting Your Japanese Visa Through Your Spouse

    If your spouse already has a working Visa, you can apply for a Dependents Visa in Japan. This Visa will allow you to work only part-time, which means 28-hours a week.

    Option 2: Apply for a Specified Skills for Work Visa

    Due to the labor shortage that Japan is facing, the government introduced the new Specified Skills for Work Visa (特定技能 / tokutei ginou). This Visa allows foreigners to work in pre-selected industries for up to five years. To apply for this Visa you need a minimum of an N4 level of Japanese proficiency. Depending on the industry, you might need an N3 or higher. But, a convenient aspect is that you don’t need a university degree.

    The following table shows the kinds of jobs you can apply for the Specified Skills for Work Visa with.

    Industry

    Type of work

    Agriculture

    General crop and animal farming

    Aviation

    Airport ground handling

    Aircraft maintenance 

    Cleaning building management

    Cleaning the interiors of buildings 

    Construction

    Formwork construction

    Earthwork

    Roofing 

    Telecommunication 

    Interior finishing

    Electronics and equipments

    Machine maintenance 

    Equipment assembling

    Welding

    Restaurants 

    General restaurants work

    Food and drink manufacturing 

    General food and drink manufacturing 

    Hospitality

    Hotel duties

    Restaurant services

    Industrial machinery

    Machine Inspection 

    Equipment assembling

    Metalwork

    Material

    Electroplating 

    Metalwork

    Machine assembling and inspection

    Nursing

    Healthcare provider

    Shipbuilding

    Welding

    Finishing

    Painting

    Vehicular Maintenance 

    Regular inspection and maintenance

    Disassembly 

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    Option 3: Become a Diplomat

    If you have diplomatic duties, you can apply for a Diplomatic Visa. The period of stay depends on the length of the mission. This Visa is usually available for ambassadors, diplomacy staff, military, and military-civilian contractors. 

    Option 4: Be Your Own Boss

    If you are a freelance or self-employed person that makes more than 190,000 yen, you can try to apply for a Self-sponsorship Visa. A similar alternative is an Entrepreneur or Start-up Visa, however, you will need a consistent amount of capital (approximately 5 million yen) or investors that can sponsor both your business idea and Visa in Japan.

    Note: The amount you need to make MAY vary depending on where you live. It’s best to speak with a visa consultant before applying for this kind of visa. 

    Option 5: Study Under a Master 

    If you are a student of an organization with a recognized “master”, you can apply for a Cultural Activities Visa. This special Visa allows foreigners to be one of the few elite students of a master's in a cultural or artistic discipline such as martial arts, ikebana (flower art arrangement), tea ceremony, poetry, and so on. This Visa also includes unpaid internships and religious activities. 

    If you want to start learning about some Japanese cultural activities, check out our Gide to Japanese Poem.

    Application for Japan visa

    How Do You Apply for a Japan Visa?

    Applying for a Japanese visa is a process that involves your local Japanese embassy and a supporting institution (or person) in Japan that is sponsoring you such as a university, language school, or company. Because of this, the whole process can take up to 5 months, so it is important to carefully plan your journey ahead of time. 

    Due to Covid-19, this process might take even longer. We recommend that you contact your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate to get an estimated time.

    What do you need to do?

    Preparing the required documents for your Japan Visa

    First of all, you need to prepare all the necessary documents. Depending on the type of Japan visa that you are applying for and your country of origin, you might need other documents on top of the standard ones. Make sure to check your local Japanese embassy or consulate website. 

    In general, you will need to provide:

    • Your original passport.
    • Visa application form (available on your  Japanese embassy’s website).
    • One photograph (35mm x 45mm)

    Submitting your Japan Visa application 

    Second, you will need to submit your documents. If you are going in person, the whole process will only take a day. You can schedule an appointment via phone or email. 

    If you are sending your documents by mail, your Japanese visa will be issued within 3 to 5 business days. However, with delays, it can take up to two months. Remember that when you are sending your application through the post office, you must include a pre-paid envelope/stamp/etc so the staff processing your Japan Visa application can send your passport with the visa back to you.  

    Wait

    After submitting, your application will go through a process of careful examination. In case there are any errors, missing documents, or information you will be contacted by the staff at the embassy or consulate. You might also be contacted if your Japan visa application requires an interview (such as the Japanese spouse and dependent visa). Within 5 months , you will know if your Japanese visa was successfully issued or not and your passport will be returned to you.

    Certificate of Eligibility: What is it?

    The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is a necessary document for many types of Japanese visas such as a student visa, working visa, or spouse visa. A COE shows the government that you are eligible to receive a visa. The document is issued by the Regional Immigration Bureau before a visa application. 

    Applying for a COE for your Japan Visa

    To get a COE you will have to complete an application offered by a sponsoring institution that will hand it in, along with the other necessary documents, to the Japanese immigration. You can apply and submit an application for a COE even if you are already in Japan as well. Issuing the COE can take anywhere up to 3 months. Once it is ready, it will be sent to you via mail. You will need to include the original copy of your COE along with a photocopy in your visa application.

    Japan Visa During the Covid-19 Pandemic

    Because of the current situation with Covid-19, Japan has issued New Border Measures for foreigners who apply for a new entry to Japan and returnees. Since 2020, there have been a variety of changes, so what the procedure is right now, might not be the same as in a few months so be sure to check your embassy website or contact them to confirm that borders are open and if there are any new requirements. 

    New documents you need for your Japan Visa: 

    • Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (ERFS) is a system overseen by the health ministry. The visa sponsors (such as universities and language schools) will share applicants’ information via the ERFS who will receive a certificate of compilation that visa applicants must include in their visa applications. 

      Japan Switch can help sponsor you if you need an ERFS Certificate. Contact us for more information (and a free level check + consultation). For more information, read our Guide to the ERFS Certificate
    • Written Pledge for traveling individuals to ensure that they will abide and respect quarantine restrictions. Your sponsoring institution will provide you with this document.

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    How Long Does a Typical Japan Visa Last?

    Usually, a Japanese visa is valid for 6 months, 1, 3, or 5 years. Your period of stay depends on your purpose for coming to Japan. Your first visa will be valid for one year but you might receive a longer period depending on your university program and the amount of tuition you paid. 

    Your second-issued Japanese visa can vary. If you are changing jobs it will most likely be issued for one year, if you are renewing for the same company you have been working at, chances are that it will be issued for 3 years or longer.

    Japanese visa for students

    Japanese Student Visa

    A Japanese Student Visa is available for all the students who wish to attend a recognized educational institute such as Japanese schools, trade schools, and universities (undergraduate, MA, Ph.D., and research).  

    If you are planning to enroll in a Japanese language school, be aware that there are certain conditions. You can attend a language school for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 24 months, afterwards, you will not be able to renew your Japanese student visa. 

    There are plenty of Japanese language schools across Japan, make sure to check BFF Tokyo’s Find the Right Japanese School in Tokyo for the best tips.

    If you wish to stay longer in Japan you have two choices: 

    1. Finding a full-time job and converting to a working visa
    2. Advance your academic career and enroll in a university as a student. In this case, you will need to apply for a Japanese Student Visa again which will last until your graduation with potential renewal in between. 

    3 things you need to remember about a Student Visa in Japan

    First, your Student Visa can be revoked at any point if you don’t pay your tuition. 

    Second, you are allowed to work 28 hours per week while on a Japanese Student Visa, however, you must get permission first. To do so, if you are already in Japan, you have to submit a formal application to the migration office. The form is titled “application for permission to engage in activity other than the permitted under the status of residence previously granted” or 資格外活動許可申請書/ Shikakugaikatsudōkyoka shinsei-sho and is available on the Immigration Services Agency of Japan’s website.

    Once approved, your residence card (zairyu card) will show that you are allowed to work. If you are coming to the country, at the non-residential passport area inside the airport you can submit a form on the spot along with your documents to allow you to work. The officer will hand you your brand new zairyu card with the stamp. 

    Learn more about zairyu card in our Ultimate Guide to Zairyu Card.

    Third, schools usually recommend you to study for a minimum of 6 months because it is easier to issue a Japanese Student Visa rather than transition from a tourist visa to a student visa.

    Working holiday visa agreement in Japan

    Japanese Holiday Working Visa

    The Japanese working holiday visa is a mix between a tourist visa and a working visa. You get enough time to enjoy what the country has to offer and work for up to 40 hours per week. To apply for this visa, your country of origin must have an ongoing agreement with Japan. Currently, 26 countries are holding the program. You can check the current list of eligible countries on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website.

    Requirements for a working holiday visa in Japan?

    To apply for a working holiday visa, applicants must be between 18 and 30 years old (in most cases) with a minimum of $2,500 in savings available to cover the initial cost of staying, plus enough money to issue a return ticket to the country of origin.  

    Moreover, applicants must travel alone without dependents or children, must be in good health, and must be a first-time applicant for a working holiday visa in Japan. If you have already been issued this visa in the past, you will not be eligible for it a second time.

    Be careful with choosing your job

    Another thing to keep in mind is that lots of companies require you to have approximately 9 months left on your Japan visa. If you have only a couple of months left, the chances of finding full-time employment will be extremely low. 

    You are also NOT allowed to work at bars, cabarets, clubs, nightclubs, or gambling establishments. If you are found working for one of these establishments, you will face immediate deportation under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. You might also face criminal charges for promoting illegal work or selling of persons.

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    Countries of exceptions 

    As mentioned above, there are currently 26 countries that have an ongoing agreement with Japan to issue a working holiday visa. However, some of these countries have certain restrictions and exceptions to formal rules (must be between 16 and 30 years old, must travel alone, must have enough funds to cover the expenses for the first few months and a return ticket). 

    The table below shows which countries have expectations for applicants for the working holiday visa.

    Country 

    Exception for applicants

    Argentina

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Australia

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality. Should be 18-25 years old (flexible).

    Canada

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality. Should be 18-25 years old (flexible).

    Chile

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Czech

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Denmark

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Hong Kong

    Must possess a valid HKSAR or British National Overseas Passport

    Hungary

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Ireland

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality. Must be 18-26 years old. 

    Lithuania

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    New Zealand

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Norway

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Poland

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    The Republic of Korea

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality. Should be 18-25 years old (flexible).

    Slovenia

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Spain

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    Taiwan

    Must possess a valid passport of Taiwan.

    The United Kingdom

    Must be currently residing in their country of nationality.

    If the working holiday visa route seems right for you and you just want to test the waters,, read more in the BFF Tokyo Ultimate Guide to Working Holiday in Japan.

    How to get a work visa in Japan

    Japanese Working Visa

    A Japanese working visa is one of the hardest visas to obtain. It allows you to be hired full-time in a variety of sectors with no limitation on the maximum hours per week. The nice thing about a working visa is that your employer will assist you in the process. Your company or workplace will sponsor your Japanese visa and might submit your application to the Immigration Office for you. Keep in mind that the immigration office can still reject the applications in certain cases, such as if you don’t have a university degree. 

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan offers a list of occupations that are eligible for a working visa in Japan along with extra documents that you might need to provide for your applications. The list of documents includes passport, photo, COE, documentation of personal work history, workplace description (such as registration, statement of loss and profit), and description of the job position at the workplace (role, salary, established working hours).

    The table below shows some examples of jobs available and the documents necessary for your Japan visa. 

    Professions

    Job Examples

    Visa Related Documents

    Artist

    Photographer, composer, songwriter, painter, etc.

    Documentation and evidence showing artistic achievements.

    Business manager

    Company president, director

     

    Engineer or specialist ( in humanities or international services)

    IT, engineer, interpreter, copywriter, foreign language teacher, designer, etc.

     

    Entertainer 

    Actor, musician, singer, athlete, dancer, etc.

     

    Instructor (teacher in grade school)

     

    Documentation on the receiving institution, academic qualification, or an educational license.

    Intra-company transferee (someone who is transferred to the Japanese branch of their company)

     

    Documentation on the relationship between the two companies/offices/branches.

    Journalist

    Journalist, editor, news cameramen, etc.

     

    Legal or accounting worker

    Attorneys, judicial scriveners, tax accountant, etc.

     

    Medical service provider

    Dentist, physician, pharmacist, nurse

     

    Nursing

    Nurse, nursing care

     

    Professor

    University professor or assistant professor

     

    Religious Activity

    Missionary, bishop, monk, etc.

    Documentation on the religious institution or organization that is sending you to Japan, documentation that confirms your religious position and career. 

    Researcher (at institutes)

     

    Documentation on the receiving institution, academic or professional qualifications

    Technical Intern

    A temporary labor program in a small or mid-size company that hires trainees.

     

    Finding a job is not easy, regardless of the country. There are many resources you can count on such as specialized websites such as GaijinPot, networking apps like Linkedin, and job fairs. If you are a student attending a Japanese University, you can rely on the career center for some help. Otherwise, read our Ultimate Guide to Full-Time Jobs in Japan.

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    Loopholes for a working visa in Japan

    If you don’t have a university degree, you can still work in Japan via a Specified Skills Working Visa, Self-employed Visa, and Start-up Visa that we previously covered. 

    Otherwise, if you have a lot of experience in your professional field, you can apply for a Skilled Labor Visa. The number of years of experience that you need depends on the field and job type. It can be as little as 3 years and as long as 10 years. Moreover, you might have to provide certificates of employment (在職証明書, zaishoku shoumeisho) for all of your related working experiences (in your specified field). 

    Examples of jobs that fall under the Skilled Labor Visa are: chef (in a particular food/cuisine of a foreign country), sommelier, jeweler, animal trainer, pilot, engineer (IT), specialists in humanities, and internal services, and so on.

    Japan tourist visa

    Japanese Tourist Visa

    A Japanese Tourist Visa is for foreign nationals who plan to stay in Japan for 90 days or less for reasons such as: 

    • Sightseeing
    • Visiting relatives, friends, or a sick person
    • Attending a wedding or funeral ceremony
    • Participating in athletic tournaments/contests, 
    • Business purposes (such as market research, business liaison, business consultation, signing a contract, or providing after-sale service for imported machinery). 

    Tourists can stay in Japan for up to 30 days under the single-entry law, however, this tourist visa is valid for up to 90 days. Tourists can also apply for a double-entry visa, which allows them to go for two short excursions in six months. It's worth noting that the Japan tourist visa prohibits tourists from working for a living while in the nation. 

    Keep in mind tourists who are visiting Japan, must first get a tourist visa before entering the country. Nonetheless, Japan exempts a number of nations from having to follow this rule. For example, citizens of most European nations, the United States, Australia, and Argentina do not require a Japanese tourist visa since they are visa-exempt for tourism reasons. Nationals from any of those regions are granted Temporary Visitor status, which allows them to stay in Japan for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.

    What Documents Do I Need for a Japan Tourist Visa Application?

    When you submit a Japanese Tourist Visa application, you need to have several supporting documents. The Japan Tourist Visa requirements are:

    • Completed and signed the Japan Tourist Visa Application Form The application form may be downloaded from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website (here). Fill in all of the blanks. If none of these apply to you, put "N/A" instead of leaving the field blank.
    • Passport (must be valid for at least six months and at least 2 blank pages for the visa to be affixed in)
    • Flight Itinerary
    • Daily Itinerary
    • Residence Certificate (if you are a foreign resident of Japan)
    • Bank statements (if you are financing your own trip)
    • Latest Income Tax Returns (ITR)
    • If you're paying a visit to someone (a friend or family member), bring documentation of your relationship, such as: 
    1. Relatives/Family members (Civil status documents, such as birth or marriage certificates)
    2. Friends (Photos, receipts, phone numbers, and a note outlining your friendship)

      

     

     

     

     

      

     

     

     

     

    How can I obtain Japan Tourist Visa?

    A Japan Tourist Visa must be obtained via a Japanese Representative Office overseas (Embassy or Consulate) or an approved travel agency. The following is a summary of the application procedure for a Japan Tourist Visa:

    1. Make an appointment with the Japanese Embassy or Consulate to submit your application. 

    2.  Individual applications are not accepted by several Japanese embassies, thus you must apply through a travel agency. On your behalf, the agency will submit the application to the Embassy or Consulate. 

    3. Obtain the necessary documentation for a visa to Japan (see them below) 

    4. Submit the necessary documentation to the Embassy/Consulate or a travel agency. 

    5. Allow time for the visa application to be processed. Starting the day the Japanese Representative Office receives your completed application, this normally takes 5 business days. 

    6. Pick up your passport from the embassy/consulate/travel agency. If your application is granted, your visa will be issued and you will be able to go to Japan within three months of receiving it.

    Japan tourist visa application

    Do I need a Vaccine Passport?

    Yes, you do. Keep in mind that since March 2022, Japan has been accepting applications for so-called vaccine passports from people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which allows them to travel internationally to certain destinations without having to quarantine.

    The vaccination passports, which are available in both Japanese and English, are designed to enable Japanese citizens to evade strict travel restrictions overseas as other countries around the world implement similar procedures to ease the return of business travel and tourism.

    A Japanese vaccination passport will include the following information:

    • Name 
    • Date of birth 
    • Type of vaccination (passport number) 
    • Vaccination dates 
    • The city in which it was issued

    How can I obtain a Vaccine Passport?

    Vaccine passports can be applied for in person or by mail, with the government planning a computerized application mechanism at a later date. The records will be available for free, and the administration is working on getting them out on the same day the application procedure would initially differ based on the municipality. You will also need several documents such as:

    • Vaccine passport application form
    • Passport
    • Vaccination voucher
    • Proof of vaccination

    Which countries need a tourist visa to enter Japan?

    All non-visa-exempt nations must get a visa to enter Japan. For vacation or commercial purposes, citizens of certain nations can come with a Temporary Visitor status for a limited length of time (15 to 90 days).

    Here are the countries that require a Japanese tourist visa in order to enter Japan:

    1. China
    2. Russia
    3. Philippines
    4. Vietnam

    There are also other types of short-term stay visas such as business visas and transit visas.

    Business Visa

    A business visa is a temporary business visa that allows you to remain for up to 90 days and can be used for single or double entry (if both trips are within a 6-month period). Conferences, meetings, contract signing, and market research are all examples of business reasons.

    Transit Visa

    A transit visa is for those who plan to stay in one country for the night before continuing on to another. If a visa for the third country is necessary, please get it before applying for a Japanese transit visa.

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    How can I sign up for a Japan Tourist e-Visa?

    The electronic visa is part of the Japanese government's plan to have 60 million foreign tourists each year by 2030. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of the Japan Tourist e-Visa has been postponed until further notice. See your embassy’s website for more information on whether it has been opened up again.

    The online application form is simple to fill out. Foreign visitors will need a valid passport in order to complete the e-Visa registration for Japan. It will be necessary for the visitors to provide their personal details including:

    • Full name,
    • Address,
    • Date & place of birth
    • Gender
    • Contact information

    The system will gather an applicant’s personal and passport information to automatically evaluate the details provided. So the online visa systems help to determine a traveler’s eligibility. 

    The e-Visa will be emailed to applicants once their application has been filed and accepted. Travelers will be allowed to enter the country by presenting their e-Visa at the border. The e-Visa will also be single-entry, and payment by credit or debit card will be required to submit the application.

    Japan visa application

    Japanese Spouse Visa

    The Spouse (Dependents) Visa is for any Applicant who will come to Japan as the spouse, unmarried child, or other dependents of a foreigner. You may be eligible for a Japan marriage visa, also known as a spouse visa if you are married to a Japanese citizen. Individuals who wish to stay in Japan for up to three years can apply for these visas, which can be renewed if necessary. Spouse visas can be issued for lengths of either 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years.

    If you haven't already arrived in Japan, you'll need to apply for a spouse visa at your nearest Japanese embassy. Those who are already in Japan should submit an application to the Japanese Immigration Bureau. You can check this hyperlink that includes a list of immigration bureaus in each area.

    What are some important considerations after I receive my Spouse Visa?

    Japanese Tax for holders of Spouse Status of Residence (SOR)

    Spouse (Dependents) SOR is essentially a non-working category, you will have very little interaction with Japanese taxes in most circumstances. However, you might be able to get authorization to do some limited part-time work in some instances. In such instances, your employer will likely manage the majority of your Japan tax concerns. This can be accomplished by monthly withholding tax deductions and a year-end adjustment made as part of the December paycheck. 

    If you have many jobs or have additional sources of income, you may be required to file a Japanese tax return by the 15th of March each year. Because there are no extensions available, it is critical that you understand your Japanese tax responsibilities. Complying with your Japanese tax obligations is essential in order to renew your visa.

    Taxes when the holder of Spouse (Dependents) SOR leaves Japan

    The holder of a Spouse (Dependents) SOR must fully pay her taxes or engage a tax agent before leaving Japan. 

    It's also worth knowing that Japanese local taxes are calculated depending on where you live on January 1st of each year. As a result, leaving Japan before the 1st of January may save you money in taxes.

    What are the types of spouse visa applications and how can I apply for them?

    Application for Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and Application for Change of Status of Residence are the two types of applications for a spouse visa. An application for a Certificate of Eligibility is a request to bring a foreign spouse who lives outside of Japan to Japan. On the other hand, an application for a spouse visa is filed by a foreigner who is in Japan on a visa other than a spouse visa and marries a Japanese person or (special) permanent resident.

    Application for Certificate of Eligibility

    The first thing you will need to do is to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (also known as a Zairyu Shikaku Nintei Shoumeisho) in Japanese. This can take some time to complete, but having the certificate ready when you apply for your spouse's visa can make the process go much more smoothly. 

    To get your Certificate of Eligibility as a spouse of a Japanese national, you’ll need a completed application form, one photograph (4cm long x 3cm wide), a family register of the Japanese nationals (stating that they are married to you), marriage certificates issued by an institution in your home country, letter of guarantee from your Japanese spouse, and a completed questionnaire giving evidence of your marriage. The application forms as well as information for the sponsor are available on the Immigration Services Agency’s page.

    Keep in mind that you also should contact an embassy if your Japanese spouse lives outside of Japan and is unable to get a certificate of eligibility in Japan.

    When submitting a visa application to an immigration office, a foreigner seeking a spouse visa must go to the immigration office on his or her own. However, because it is difficult for a person residing abroad to travel to an immigration office, an application agent, who is designated by an ordinance of the Ministry of Justice for each status of residence, can submit an application on their behalf. In the case of a spouse visa, for example, "a relative of the foreign citizen resident in Japan" might act as an agent. Please keep in mind that people who are not linked to the person, such as friends, are not eligible to serve as an application agent.

    The period of examination takes about 1 to 3 months. That is why it is important to prepare the application for the Certificate of Eligibility carefully, considering such a period of examination.

    Application for Change of Status of Residence

    Before the date of expiration of the status of residence and after the occurrence of the reason for the change of status of residence. 

    The effective creation of a legal marriage is the reason for the change of resident status. 

    If you want to convert your status of residence to a spouse visa because you married your partner, you can apply for a spouse visa at any time between the day you started dating your spouse and the date your present status of residence expires.

    Just like the Certificate of Eligibility above, for the Application for Change of Status of Residence, administrative scriveners who have submitted a notification to the Director of a Regional Immigration Bureau after completing an application agency training and taking an examination are permitted to submit applications to immigration offices on behalf of applicants or agents of applicants.

    A person who intends to alter his or her status of residence must go to the appropriate immigration office and file an application on his or her own. If the individual is unable to attend owing to illness or other circumstances, a relative living with the person can act as an agent to complete the application. The examination period takes about 2 weeks to 1 month.

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    visa in Japan after divorce

    What happens to my spouse visa after a divorce in Japan?

    If you're a foreign national with a spouse visa/status of residence in Japan and you're getting a divorce, you're probably worried about what will happen to your spouse visa when the divorce is finalized. Don't worry, because we will go over everything you need to know about changing your visa status after a divorce.

    If you are curious and want to know more about divorce in Japan, make sure to read our article that covers Everything You Need to Know About Divorce in Japan.

    If you divorce your Japanese spouse or get divorced, you must notify the Immigration office within two weeks. The Ministry of Justice website has a Notification of Relationship with Spouse form that you can download or access by clicking here. Then, you need to bring the completed paperwork to the local Immigration office to have your divorce formally registered. 

    The law was changed in 2012 so that a foreign spouse of a Japanese person who gets divorced can no longer stay in Japan until their spouse's visa expires. After 6 months have passed since your divorce, the immigration office will withdraw your spouse's visa. That is why you must file a petition for a change of resident status during this 6-month grace period, or you will be forced to leave Japan at the conclusion of the time. If you want to stay in Japan after your divorce, you'll need to file a petition for a change of status of residence because your spouse's visa will expire within 6 months.

    Switching your Japan Visa after a divorce

    If you are presently employed, your employer may be willing to sponsor a working visa for you. On the other hand, if you have lived in Japan long enough (about 5 years) or if you have a child of Japanese nationality to raise in Japan, you may be able to change your spouse visa to a "Long Term Resident" visa. Keep in mind that the kid must be under the age of 18 and you must have parental authority (child custody) over the child for the prior condition to apply.

    So basically, a spouse visa is valid for 6 months after the divorce is filed, and if you want to stay in Japan longer than that, you must file a petition for a change of status of residence. Since the foreign national's status of residence is granted by the Minister of Justice's discretion. You could apply for a Long-Term Resident visa, if you have lived in Japan for 5 years or more, or if you have a child of Japanese nationality under the age of 18.

    Advice from a certified Visa Consultant

    On our podcast "Japanese with Friends," we had the pleasure of interviewing Tsuyoshi Kawaguchi of HYGGE Visa Office, a qualified Japanese visa adviser. In the podcast, we had a talk about many of the issues that foreigners have concerning the visa application procedure once they have their paperwork ready. You can also listen to the podcast here.

    What are some common mistakes foreigners in Japan make on their visa application?

    Although it is simple, applicants must supply accurate information. In his recent experience, applicants should be careful of "consistency" between their most current applications and the previous ones.

    When applying for the work extension visa, you will complete the necessary documentation and provide any evidence necessary. Inspectors will review everything they have (including what may be in their database) and, if they find a single discrepancy, they will require you to write a letter explaining the discrepancy. Some areas of concern have been: 

    • Name of university 
    • Graduation date
    • Name of your company or previous companies 
    • Dates (regarding employment contracts, termination contracts, company joining dates, etc). 

    Keep in mind that inspectors can be quite strict with the process. They may simply reject the application owing to inconsistencies without hearing from the applicant. Once an application has been refused, it is extremely difficult to reverse the situation or obtain future acceptance. That is why visa applicants must constantly be cautious and provide accurate information at each application.

    What tips do you have for people doing self-sponsorship in Japan?

    Mr. Kawaguchi tends to get a lot of questions regarding self-sponsorship. In fact, many freelancers and ordinary firm employees are covered by a general working visa, the "Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services'' visa. The most important requirement for obtaining a self-sponsored visa is that the applicant receives money from clients on a regular and consistent basis. They must also ask one of their clients to serve as their "visa sponsor."

    According to Mr. Kawaguchi, even though the visa applicant is not a firm employee, they must request an application form with company information and present tax records. 

    Clients such as freelancers, business consultants, web designers, engineers, and other professionals sent photocopies of contracts with a few organizations and requested cooperation from their primary customers with the visa application. 

    He is also frequently asked about the minimum monthly income as a visa specialist. On SNS, many people say things like "3 million yen every year," "250,000 yen per month," and so on. There is no publicly available information, however, 200,000 yen per month is the very least in his experience. “For example, if you get 600,000 yen from a customer in the next three months for a three-month project, you will be good on a monthly basis”.

    Tsuyoshi Kawaguchi, a registered visa consultant (immigration attorney for Japanese visas) with over seven years of experience in Tokyo and over 3,000 visa applications under his service, wrote this information. If you're interested and want to know more about using his services, you may contact him through his LinkedIn profile or his website, Hygge Visa Japan.

    What exactly do you do as a visa specialist?

    Gyoseishoshi, his work title, and license name is a legal profession in Japan. They basically prepare documentation, file government licenses and permissions, and give legal guidance. They are not attorneys and are unable to represent consumers in legal proceedings both inside and outside of the courtroom. They are believed to be able to handle over 2,000 different forms of official papers. In Japan, there are over 50,000 Gyoseishoshi attorneys, each of whom has a specialization. Mr. Kawaguchi is an expert in visas and immigration. There are around 8,000 to 9,000 Gyoseishoshi licensed to handle visa affairs, including himself.

    How do you help foreigners?

    Mr. Kawaguchi provides English counseling services through email, phone, and face-to-face, as well as a list of required papers in both English and Japanese, so that his clients may correctly correct paperwork from the firm and public agencies such as city offices and tax offices. After the preparation, he would file the visa applications on behalf of his customers, so that they do not need to visit the Immigration Office.

    Is it faster to process my Visa through you?

    The answer is no, the Immigration examination duration is the same. Even if you ask him or any other professional, there is no way to shorten the time it takes for the visa to be processed. Visa applications are simply examined on a first-come, first-served basis by the Immigration Bureau. The difference is that Mr. Kawaguchi will give suitable information and techniques to ensure that the process runs smoothly and that mistakes such as a lack of paperwork do not create delays.

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    What is the immigration experience like for you (special line, special privileges)?

    As visa specialists, they have a significant amount of responsibility, both positively and negatively. Why? because visa applications have the potential to transform applicants' lives in the future. Needless to say, they must constantly use extreme caution. “The best part is that my consumers are happy and satisfied with my services when the procedure is done successfully. My clients sometimes treat me like a God, especially when Permanent Residence visa applications are accepted”, as quoted by Mr. Kawaguchi. 

    They always have a great deal of responsibility, but that is why, not only as visa specialists but also as people, they may have fantastic and priceless experiences. It's a B to C company with a lot of responsibilities. It can be tough to persuade immigration officials to accept visa applications at times. On the other hand, Mr. Kawaguchi thinks that there are very few jobs that bring this kind of priceless experience that customers express great appreciation for.

    What type of immigration cases do you normally not accept?

    After visa petitions are denied, Mr. Kawaguchi frequently receives several inquiries. The first thing he needs to do is figure out what were the main reasons for rejection. If the reasons are evident and there is a chance of getting a reapplication approved, he will thoroughly explain the situation, the potential, and the risk to his customer. “I take care of the matter if the customer agrees with my explanation. I definitely do not accept candidates who do not meet the basic qualifications. For example, I don't handle Permanent Residence applications unless they meet the Immigration Bureau's basic standards”.

    What is the ratio of visa-type processes that you handle?

    Approximately 70% of visa applications are for work visas, 10% are for Permanent Residence, 10% are for family visas for spouses and children, and 10% are for other sorts of visas.

    What advantages will I get from working with you?

    There are three points to consider. First, most visa agents are only open during the day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. However, most people are busy with their jobs. But, Mr. Kawaguchi is a very flexible freelancer that works all year and even in the evenings on a daily basis. It implies that when clients have free time, he may give consultancy services and respond to their queries so that it appears to be customer-friendly. 

    Secondly, He has worked in this field for over 9 years and has handled over 3,000 instances.

    Thirdly, he has a personal experience living in another country, specifically in Spain for a year between 2003 and 2004. Since he didn't speak Spanish very well at the time, he found himself in a lot of tough circumstances. However, he now realizes that knowing how tough it is to live in another country was a priceless experience. Mr. Kawaguchi imagined that for English speakers, Japan is not the most convenient or user-friendly place. He believes that he can comprehend the concerns of non-Japanese people and the hardships of living in Japan because of his experience in another country. “My clients' sentiments and ideas are always respected by me”.

    Final Thoughts

    Now you know that every foreign national entering Japan must possess a valid visa. Whether that visa is issued on arrival or applied for in advance is based on what type of "residence" the visitor is seeking. 

    There are several more visa categories that aren't included in the major categories listed above. The SOFA visa (for military personnel stationed in Japan or on orders), the investor visa, and the skilled foreign worker visa are among them. Also, don't forget to contact your local Japanese embassy or consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for further information on such visas, as well as the ones mentioned above. 

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