Visiting Japan



   FAQ on Japanese Visa

 

FAQ on Japanese Visa
 
Q1. What is a visa?

Q2. Why are visas necessary?

Q3. What is landing permission?

Q4. What is a certificate of eligibility?

Q5. What type of visa can I obtain?

  1. Statuses of residence for engaging in specified activities in Japan
   (a) Statuses of residence permitting work
   (b) Statuses of residence not permitting work
   (c) Whether work is permitted or not depends on the contents of individual permits

  2. Statuses of residence without restrictions on activities in Japan

Q6. How many times can I use my visa?

Q7. Can I re-enter Japan after temporarily leaving the country?

Q8. How long is a visa valid?

Q9. Is the issuance of a visa guaranteed once applied?

Q10. Can I extend my re-entry permit?

Q11. What should I do after entering Japan?

Q12. Who should I ask if I have questions about my visa application?

 

 

 

Q1. What is a visa?

 

A. On the basis of the Law for the Establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visas granted by the Japanese Government are issued only by embassies or consulates under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A visa cannot be acquired after arriving in Japan. A visa is an indication of the judgment that a foreigner wishing to enter Japan should be appropriate to enter and stay in Japan.
  A visa itself does not guarantee landing (status of residence) permission. Please note that possession of a visa is just one condition for application for landing at an airport or seaport. Although there are some countries that do give visas the function of a guarantee of landing permission, most countries, like Japan, have a system which requires permission from immigration authorities as well as a visa.

 

 

Q2. Why are visas necessary?

 

A. In principle, foreigners wishing to enter Japan (with the exception of shipping and airline crews) are required to apply at an overseas Japanese diplomatic establishment (embassy or consulate) for a visa to be stamped in or attached to their passport valid for travel to Japan. Under Japan's Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereafter referred to as the Immigration Control Act), it is stipulated that any foreigner wishing to enter or land in Japan must possess a valid passport and a visa obtained from an embassy or consulate. In other words, when foreigners apply to an Immigration Inspector (immigration officer) at a port of entry or departure (hereafter referred to as a port of entry) of an airport or seaport for an examination for landing, one of the conditions that they must meet is possession of a valid visa. Accordingly, if a foreigner does not possess the necessary visa, in principle he or she is not granted permission to enter Japan.
  Please note, however, that as of October 2005 Japan had taken measures concerning the waiver of visa requirements with 62 countries and regions. Nationals of these countries and regions holding valid passports can apply for landing permission for short-term stays for such purposes as sightseeing and business trips without obtaining a visa. On the other hand, cases involving paid activities in Japan are excluded. Also, the waiver of visa requirements are not applicable in the case of stays exceeding the period of time stipulated in each arrangement. In such cases, it is necessary for foreigners to obtain a visa.

 

 

Q3. What is landing permission?

 

A. Landing permission is stamped in a foreigner's passport by immigration officers at the airport or seaport where he or she goes through immigration procedures. It is this landing permission, not a visa, that serves as the legal basis for the foreigner's stay in Japan. A visa is only a recommendation and does not automatically guarantee landing permission.
  When a foreigner wishing to enter Japan arrives at an airport or seaport in Japan , he or she first of all has to apply to an immigration officer for landing permission. The immigration officer will check the validity of the foreigner's passport, the existence of a visa when necessary, the validity of the visa, the purpose of entering Japan , the scheduled period of stay, and so on. Landing permission will be granted only if all the conditions stipulated in the Immigration Control Act, including those being checked by the immigration officer, are met.
  The stamp of landing permission states not only the date and port of entry but also the status of residence (often referred to as immigration status) of the foreigner, which determines the activities in which that foreigner is permitted to engage in Japan and the term of residence of his or her immigration status.

  The receipt and validity of landing permission are prerequisites for any future applications at a regional immigration authority in Japan for a specific purpose, such as extension of term of residence or change of status of residence. Any such applications must be made at the nearest regional immigration authority to the applicant's place of residence in Japan .
  When an immigration officer at the port of entry completes an examination for landing and grants landing permission, the visa immediately becomes invalid (although multiple visas remain valid until the date of their expiration). After that, as explained above, it is the stamp of landing permission that serves as the legal basis for the foreigner's stay in Japan.

 

 

Q4. What is a certificate of eligibility?

 

A. A Certificate of Eligibility is issued before a visa application by a regional immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice as evidence that the applicant fulfills various conditions of the Immigration Control Act, including those certifying that the activity in which the foreigner wishes to engage in Japan is valid and comes under a status of residence (excluding Temporary Visitor Status).
  The Certificate of Eligibility has the advantage of reducing the time required to obtain a visa and complete immigration procedures, since a foreigner in possession of such a certificate can probably acquire a visa at an embassy or consulate without any inquiries being made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, by showing the certificate to the immigration officer, obtain landing permission more easily.
  Please note, however, that even if a foreigner possesses a Certificate of Eligibility, an embassy or consulate will not issue a visa in certain circumstances -for example, if there has been a change in the situation since the issue of the certificate (such as the company that was planning to hire the foreigner deciding not to do so because of business difficulties) or if it becomes evident that the documents submitted to obtain the certificate were false.
  There are two processes for acquiring a Certificate of Eligibility. An application is usually made by a proxy in Japan at the nearest regional immigration authority to the proxy's place of residence in Japan. The second process is limited to special cases, such as applicants who happen to be residing in Japan and are prepared to leave the country to apply for a visa.

 

 

Q5. What type of visa can I obtain?

 

A. Japan has seven categories of visa. Visas are issued according to the purpose of the foreigner's visit. The following tables show the visa category, the corresponding status of residence and term of residence, and the range of foreigners who are permitted to enter Japan under each category.

 

 

 1. Statuses of residence for engaging in specified activities in Japan

 (a) Statuses of residence permitting work

VISA CATEGORY
Status of residence
(term of residence)
Activities authorized to engage in
DIPLOMATIC VISA
Diplomat
(during mission)
Activities on the part of constituent members of diplomatic missions or consular offices of foreign governments hosted by the Government of Japan, and activities on the part of their family members belonging to the same household.
  Activities on the part of those who are provided with similar privileges and/or immunities as are given to diplomatic missions in accordance with treaties or international customary practices (for example, heads of state, ministers, and parliamentary speakers of foreign countries; the secretary general of the United Nations; the secretary generals of specialized agencies of the United Nations; etc.), and activities on the part of their family members belonging to the same household.
OFFICIAL VISA
Official
(during mission)
Activities on the part of those who engage in official business of foreign governments or international organizations recognized by the Government of Japan, and activities on the part of their family members belonging to the same household.
WORKING VISA
Professor
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities for research, research guidance, or education as professor, assistant professor, or assistant, etc. at universities, equivalent educational institutions, or technical colleges (koto senmon gakko).
Artist
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities for the arts that provide income, including those carried out by composers, songwriters, artists, sculptors, craftspeople, photographers, etc.
Religious Activities
(3 years or 1 year)
Missionary and other religious activities conducted by members of foreign religious organizations.
Journalist
(3 years or 1 year)
News coverage and other journalistic activities conducted on the basis of a contract with a foreign journalistic organization, such as a foreign newspaper company, news agency, broadcasting station, documentary movie company, etc. (Specifically, activities carried out by newspaper journalists, magazine journalists, report writers, editorial chiefs, editors, media photographers, television and radio announcers, etc., including freelancers.)
Investor / Business
Manager*

(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to commence the operation of international trade or other business, to invest in international trade or other business and to operate or manage that business, or to operate or manage international trade or other business on behalf of foreign nationals (including foreign corporations) who have begun such an operation or have invested in such a business. The business in question must meet certain conditions of scale. Applicants who wish to engage in business management must fulfill certain conditions concerning work status and personal history.
Legal / Accounting
Services*

(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in legal or accounting business. Applicants must be attorneys or public accountants certified to perform their duties in Japan, or those with other legal qualifications recognized by Japan.
Medical Services*
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in medical treatment service. Applicants must be physicians, dentists, or those with other medical qualifications, and must be qualified under Japanese law and fulfill certain conditions concerning work status, etc.
Researcher*
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in examinations, surveys, research, etc. on the basis of a contract with a public or private organization in Japan. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning personal history and work status.
Instructor*
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in language instruction and other education at elementary schools, junior high schools, senior high schools, schools for the blind, handicapped children's schools, miscellaneous schools (kakushu gakko and senshu gakko), or other educational institutions equivalent to kakushu gakko in facilities and curriculum.
Engineer*
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in service that requires technological skill and/or knowledge pertinent to physical science, engineering, or other natural science fields, on the basis of a contract with a public or private organization in Japan. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning personal history and work status.
Specialist in Humanities/
International Services*

(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in service that requires knowledge pertinent to jurisprudence, economics, sociology, or other human science fields. Activities to engage in service that requires specific ways of thought or sensitivity based on experience with foreign culture, such as interpreting, translation, copywriting, fashion design, interior design, sales, overseas business, information processing, international finance, design, or public relations and advertising based on a contract with a public or private organization in Japan. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning personal history and work status.
Intracompany Transferee*
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities on the part of personnel who are transferred to business offices in Japan for a limited period of time from business offices that are established in foreign countries by public or private organizations with head offices, branch offices, or other business offices in Japan and who engage at these business offices in the activities described in the "Engineer" or "Specialist in Humanities/International Services" sections of this table. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning personal history and work status.
Entertainer*
(1 year, 6 months, or
3 months)
Activities to engage in theatrical performances, arts, song, dance, musical performances, sports, or any other show business. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning personal history, work status, and form of entertainment.
  Activities such as the production of television programs or movies, the photographing of models, etc. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning work status.
Skilled Labor*
(3 years or 1 year)
Activities to engage in service that requires industrial techniques or skills belonging to special fields on the basis of a contract with a public or private organization in Japan. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions concerning personal history and work status.

  *Statuses of residence to which the Ministerial Ordinance to Provide for Criteria for Landing Permission does apply.
  The Immigration Control Act stipulates the basic legal framework for foreigners staying in Japan in terms of status of residence and also, regarding several types of status of residence, stipulates further that criteria established by an ordinance of the Ministry of Justice in consideration of the impact on Japan's industry and general welfare shall apply as a condition for granting landing permission.
  These conditions for granting landing permission are stated in the Ministerial Ordinance to Provide for Criteria pursuant to Article 7, Paragraph 1 (2) of the Immigration Control Act (Ministry of Justice Ordinance No. 16 of May 24, 1990).


 (b) Statuses of residence not permitting work

VISA CATEGORY
Status of residence
(term of residence)
Activities authorized to engage in
TEMPORARY VISITOR'S VISA
Temporary Visitor
(90 days, 30 days, or
15 days)
Sightseeing; recreation; sports; visiting relatives, friends, or acquaintances; visiting a sick person; attending a wedding or funeral ceremony; participating in athletic tournaments, contests, etc. as an amateur; business purposes (such as market research, business liaison, business consultations, signing a contract, or providing after-sale service for imported machinery); inspecting or visiting plants, trade fairs, etc.; attending lectures, explanatory meetings, etc.; academic surveys or research presentations; religious pilgrimages or visits; friendship visits to sister cities, sister schools, etc.; or other similar activities during a short period of stay in Japan.
TRANSIT VISA
Temporary Visitor
(15 days or 3 days)
Activities are limited to sightseeing, leisure, and rest. Applicants must be foreigners traveling to a foreign country from another foreign country via Japan who wish to stay in Japan for a short period (up to 15 days).
GENERAL VISA
Cultural Activities
(1 year or 6 months)
Academic or artistic activities that provide no income, activities for the purpose of pursuing specific studies on Japanese culture or arts, or activities for the purpose of learning and acquiring skills in Japanese culture or arts under the guidance of experts (for example, ikebana, tea ceremony, judo, etc.).
College Student*
(2 years or 1 year)
Activities to receive education at colleges or equivalent educational institutions, specialized courses of study at miscellaneous schools (senshu gakko), educational institutions designated for preparing persons who have completed 12 years of education at schools in foreign countries to enter college, or technical colleges (koto senmon gakko). Applicants must fulfill certain conditions regarding ability to pay living expenses, etc.
Precollege Student*
(1 year or 6 months)
Activities to receive education at high schools, high school courses of schools for the blind or of handicapped children's schools, higher or general courses of miscellaneous schools (kakushu gakko and senshu gakko), or of other educational institutions that are equivalent to kakushu gakko schools in facilities and curriculum. Applicants must fulfill certain conditions regarding ability to pay living expenses, etc.
Trainee*
(1 year or 6 months)
Activities to learn and acquire technology, skills, or knowledge at public or private organizations in Japan (including not only training in industrial techniques and skills but also administrative training in local governments and other public bodies and clerical training to acquire knowledge).
Dependent*
(3 years, 2 years, 1 year, 6 months or 3 months)
Daily living activities on the part of the spouse or unmarried minor child of those who stay in Japan with a status of residence mentioned in Table (a) (excluding Diplomat and Official) or with a Cultural Activities or College Student status of residence.

  *Same as note for Table (a).

 

 (c) Whether work is permitted or not depends on the contents of individual permits

VISA CATEGORY
Status of residence
(term of residence)
Activities authorized to engage in

SPECIFIED VISA
Designated Activities
(3 years, 1 year,
6 months, or a designated
period of less than 1 year)

Activities that are specifically designated by the Minister of Justice for foreign individuals. (For example, activities on the part of foreigners who wish to enter Japan as personal help privately employed by diplomats, consular representatives, etc.; foreigners who wish to enter Japan under bilateral working holiday agreements*; foreigners who are employed by companies, etc. and are active as athletes in amateur sports and their dependent spouses and children; foreign lawyers engaged in international arbitration affairs, etc. university students engaged in internship activities.)

  *Working Holiday Agreements: Based on bilateral agreements, working holiday programmes permit young people (between 18 and 30 years of age) from the countries concerned who are visiting a partner country on vacation to engage in work there so as to supplement their funds to travel and stay in that country, thereby providing them with an opportunity to get to know that country's culture and general lifestyle. At present Japan has such working holiday agreements with five countries: Australia, Canada, France,
New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.

 

 2. Statuses of residence without restrictions on activities in Japan

VISA CATEGORY
Status of residence
(term of residence)
Personal relationship or status based on which
the residence is authorized
NO VISA GIVEN
Permanent Resident
(indefinite)
Those who are granted permanent residence by tbe Minister of Justice. Application for Permanent Resident status is not possible at overseas Japanese diplomatic establishments.
SPECIFIED VISA
Spouse or Child of Japanese National
(3 years or 1 year)
Spouses of Japanese nationals, children adopted by Japanese nationals in accordance with the provisions of Article 817-2 of the Civil Code (Law No. 89 of 1896), or those born as children of Japanese nationals.
Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident
(3 years or 1 year)
Spouses of those who stay with Permanent Resident status or those who are Special Permanent Residents as described in the Special Law on Immigration Control, which covers those who have lost Japanese nationality through a peace treaty between Japan and another nation, or those born as children of Permanent or Special Permanent Residents.
Long-term Resident
(3 years, 1 year,
6 months, or a designated
period of less than 3 years)
Refugees as stipulated by the convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Indochinese refugee settlers, second- and third-generation Japanese settlers, etc.

 

 

Q6. How many times can I use my visa?

 

A. In terms of frequency of valid entry, there are three types of visa: single-entry visas, double-entry visas, and multiple-entry visas. As their names suggest, the single-entry visa can only be used on one occasion, the double-entry visa on two occasions, and the multiple-entry visa on any number of occasions within its period of validity. In principle, multiple-entry visas are only issued to nationals of countries that have reciprocal arrangements with Japan.

 

 

Q7. Can I re-enter Japan after temporarily leaving the country?

 

A. If foreigners who already reside in Japan, having acquired a status of residence for a long-term stay, such as for work, wish to leave the country temporarily during the period for which they have received permission to stay in Japan, they can obtain a re-entry permit before departing Japan. This permit enables them to re-enter Japan without having to obtain a new visa, as long as their re-entry is within the valid period of the permit. For such foreigners, the procedures for entering Japan are much simpler than the usual landing procedures.
  Applications for re-entry permits can be made at the nearest immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. When re-entry permission is granted, the permit is stamped on the foreigner's passport.
  In principle, re-entry permission is valid for only one time. However, foreigners who have to leave Japan frequently can apply for multiple re-entry permits. It is not possible to obtain re-entry permission at an embassy or consulate after departure from Japan. However, if a foreigner who has departed Japan after acquiring re-entry permission is unable to return to Japan before expiration of the permit for unavoidable reasons, such as illness, the foreigner can apply at an embassy or consulate for an extension of the re-entry permit's period of validity.

 

 

Q8. How long is a visa valid?

 

A. In principle, single-entry visas are valid for three months and double-entry visas for six months. Multiple-entry visas are valid for 12 months, although in the case of nationals of countries that have reciprocal arrangements with Japan, the period of validity is determined in accordance with the arrangement (for example, three years or four years).
  Please note that the period of validity of a visa does not mean the permitted period of stay in Japan. It signifies the period in which the visa can be used at the time of entry into Japan. (For example, in the case of a visa valid for three months, the holder can use it to enter Japan any time in the three months from the date of issue. After three months, however, the visa becomes invalid, so it can no longer be used.) Specifically, the period of validity is calculated from the day after the visa's issue.
  If the holder of a double-entry or multiple-entry visa obtains a new passport while the visa is still valid, he or she can have the visa transferred from the old passport to the new one at an embassy or consulate. (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan does not handle this business.) Please note, however, that in this case the double-entry or multiple-entry visa in the old passport must still be valid.
  In the case of foreigners who have already completed entry procedures and have temporarily departed from Japan with a re-entry permit from the immigration authorities, there is no need to transfer the visa to the new passport for re-entry into Japan, because the original status of residence in Japan is considered to be still valid.

Note : In the above case, foreigners residing in Japan, when they obtain a new passport, must have all valid stamps (e.g. landing permission, stamp of permission to extend their period of stay, stamp of multiple-entry permission, etc. obtained from an immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice) transferred to the new passport. For more information about transfer procedures, and/or inquire at the nearest immigration authority.

 

 

Q9. Is the issuance of a visa guaranteed once applied?

 

A. Overseas Japanese diplomatic establishments may not issue a visa to an applicant who comes under the following categories or is suspected of coming under these categories:

- If the applicant does not possess a genuine and valid passport.

- If the contents of the application are false.

- If the applicant has a criminal record including more than one year's imprisonment.

- If the applicant has a criminal record involving narcotics, marijuana, stimulants, prostitution, etc.

- If the application is made within five years of the applicant having been deported from Japan for illegal residence.

- If the applicant's purpose for entering Japan does not fall within the activities that can be conducted in Japan as stipulated by the Immigration Control Act.

- If the applicant's purpose for entering Japan does not comply with the Ministerial Ordinance to Provide for Criteria for Landing Permission under the Immigration Control Act.

- If it is feared that the applicant will engage in activities that harm the interests of and disturb public order in Japan .

If a visa has been denied, it is possible for the same applicant to apply again. For further information, please inquire at the embassy or consulate where the application was made or at the Foreign Nationals' Affairs Division if the application was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the embassy or consulate.

 

 

Q10. Can I extend my re-entry permit?

 

A. A foreigner who has departed from Japan with a re-entry permit and is unable to return to Japan before the end of the re-entry permit's period of validity for an unavoidable reason, such as illness, travel interruption, or continuation of studies, can apply at an embassy or consulate for an extension of the re-entry permit's period of validity by submitting documents detailing the reason.
  The period of validity of a re-entry permit can be extended for up to one year, as long as it does not exceed four years (five years for special permanent residents) from the date when the original re-entry permit came into effect. However, the period of a re-entry permit cannot be extended beyond the period of stay granted before departure from Japan. For further information, please inquire at your nearest Japanese diplomatic establishment.

 

 

Q11. What should I do after entering Japan?

 

A. After entering Japan , foreigners may have to carry out the following procedures, depending on their status. All these procedures should be undertaken at the nearest immigration authority. Although these procedures are unrelated to acquiring visas, they are included here for reference, because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does receive many inquiries about them. For further information, please inquire at your nearest immigration authority (not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

- Permission to extend term of residence
This permission is required when a foreigner wishes to remain in Japan under the same status of residence after the originally authorized term of residence has expired. Applications must be made before the term of residence expires.

- Permission to change status of residence
This permission is required when a foreigner wishes to cease his or her present activity and engage in another activity covered by a status of residence different from the one originally granted.

- Permission to engage in an activity other than that permitted by the status of residence previously granted
This permission is required when a foreigner who has a status of residence limiting his or her activities wishes to engage in an income-generating business or a paid activity that is not permitted under that status of residence. In other words, this permission is necessary if a foreigner wishes to engage in a secondary activity that belongs to a different status of residence.

- Permission for permanent residence
This permission is required when a foreigner residing in Japan wishes to acquire a permanent resident status.

- Permission to acquire a status of residence
This permission is required when a foreigner stays in Japan without going through entry procedures (for example, when a foreign baby is born in Japan or a person renounces Japanese nationality) and wishes to remain in Japan more than 60 days after the occurrence of the matter.

- Certificate of Work Eligibility
This certificate is issued to foreigners who have a status of residence permitting them to work.

- Re-entry permission
This permission is required when a foreigner residing in Japan wishes to leave the country temporarily and then return during the authorized term of residence. (Permanent foreign residents also require re-entry permission.)

- Transfer of endorsements to new passport
When a foreigner obtains a new passport because the old one has become invalid or been lost, he or she must get any valid stamps for status of residence, authorized term of residence, and multiple re-entry permission transferred to the new passport.

- Cancellation of passport endorsements
When a foreigner no longer requires a status of residence because, for example, he or she has acquired Japanese nationality, he or she must have all valid stamps in his or her passport canceled.

- Alien registration
Another procedure that foreign residents must not forget is alien registration, which they must complete at the municipal office of the area in which they live (not at a regional immigration authority). Foreigners staying in Japan for more than 90 days are obliged to complete alien registration. (They will receive a Certificate of Alien Registration, which they must carry at all times.)

 

Q12. Who should I ask if I have questions about my visa application?

 

A. If you can't find the information you are looking for in the "VISA Information," please contact the embassy/consulate general nearest you. In principle, visa applications should be made at the Japanese embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over applicant's place of residence.
  The Visa Section of the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC serves the following areas:
District of Columbia, the state of Maryland and Virginia

 

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