Immigration to Japan 2020 – Procedures and Visa Matters
Below is a basic introduction to the Japanese immigration system. Please contact the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate outside Japan or an immigration office in Japan for official advice.
All foreigners, including foreign residents, are fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival in Japan as a measure to prevent terrorism and other illegal activities. Excluded from this procedure are persons under the age of 16 and a few special groups, such as visiting diplomats and dignitaries.
All foreigners receive residency status when entering Japan. There are more than twenty residence statuses, including “temporary visitor” for tourists, and a range of statuses for students, workers and relatives of Japanese nationals and residents.
Requirements for foreigners entering Japan
Foreigners must have a valid passport to enter Japanese territory. However, crew members or foreigners who will be crew members in Japan and who have a valid large pocket book may enter Japan without a valid passport.
Those who intend to enter Japan without receiving a landing authorization or a landing authorization verification seal from an immigration inspector cannot enter the country.
Those who entered the country in violation of these matters will be obliged to leave under the provisions of section 24, point 1 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and will be subject to criminal sanctions in under the provisions of Section 70 (1) (1) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.
Landing Procedures for foreign nationals
A foreigner must meet the following conditions to be admitted to Japan (section 7, paragraph 1 of the Immigration Control Act) before being allowed to enter the country with the authorized residence status and period of stay .
- The foreigner must hold a valid passport with a valid visa issued by a Japanese adviser;
- The activities that the foreigner will carry out in Japan, as indicated in the request, must be true;
- The activities that the foreigner will exercise in Japan, as indicated in the request, must fall under one of the residence statutes. (For some of the residence statuses, the foreigner must, moreover, satisfy the conditions of authorization to disembark stipulated by the ministerial ordinance to provide criteria in accordance with article 7, paragraph 1 (2) of the law on immigration control and refugee recognition.)
- The period of stay requested in the request must comply with the provisions of the order of the Ministry of Justice.
- The foreigner must not fall into any of the grounds for refusing to disembark. Read More
Tourists and Business Travelers (Temporary Visitors)
If you are a citizen of one of the 50 countries with which Japan has a “general visa waiver agreement”, you only need a valid passport to enter Japan as a “temporary visitor”. Otherwise, you must obtain a visa before entering the country. Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay for up to 90 days.
If you are a citizen of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you can extend your stay for up to six months in total. You still enter Japan with a 90-day permit, but you can then request an extension from a Japanese immigration office.
Temporary visitors are not allowed to engage in paid activities. However, short-term studies in Japanese language schools are allowed.
All foreign tourists to Japan are required to carry their passports with them at all times.
Working in Japan
Foreigners who wish to work in Japan must obtain a work visa from a Japanese embassy or consulate outside of Japan in order to enter the country with a residence status permitting work.
There are more than a dozen of these residency statuses, each allowing the incumbent to work only in a specific professional area, for example, journalism, the arts, research, education, engineering, entertainment, business management, international services, etc. If you change jobs while you are in Japan and your new job is in a different professional field (eg engineering education), you will need to change your residency status.
A university degree or considerable professional experience in the applicable field is required to be eligible for most types of work visas. Most also require that you have a potential employer as a sponsor. The residence permit is granted for periods of 4 months to 5 years and can be extended.
Workers can bring their spouses and children to Japan with a dependent visa. Dependents are not allowed to engage in gainful employment, unless they get permission from the immigration office, but even then they can only work a maximum number of hours per week.
Other work and trainees
The so-called “specified skills” status allows one to work in one of more than a dozen professional fields, including construction, hospitality, nursing and manufacturing. Applicants do not need a diploma but must pass a technical skills test and have some knowledge of Japanese. There are two types: type 1 allows workers to stay in Japan for up to five years, but they cannot bring their families. Type 2 is for more skilled workers, can be extended indefinitely and allows the family to live in Japan. Type 1 holders can switch to type 2 after five years.
In addition, there is the “Technical Trainee Training Program” which allows foreign workers to acquire skills in a Japanese workplace that they would not otherwise have been able to acquire in their home country. After a few years, participants become eligible for the type 1 “Specified skill” status mentioned above. Most of the interns come from Southeast Asia and China.
This is a special type of visa that allows paid activity for citizens of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom. Uni and a few other countries aged 18 to 30. vacation visa page for more details.
Studying in Japan
Foreigners wishing to study in Japan (except for short-term studies in language schools) must obtain a student visa at a Japanese embassy or consulate outside Japan in order to enter the country with the status of residency which allows long-term studies.
The sponsorship of an educational institution in Japan and proof of sufficient funds to cover all your expenses during your stay are necessary to benefit from a student visa. The residence permit is granted in periods between 3 months and 4 years and 3 months and can be extended.
Students are not allowed to engage in paid activities unless they get permission from the immigration office. Even then, students can only work a maximum number of hours per week.
Foreigners who are married to a Japanese national or to a permanent resident of Japan (see below) can obtain a spouse visa, which allows them to engage in any paid activity in Japan. Residence permission is granted in periods of 6 months or 1, 3 or 5 years and is extendable.
Staying in Japan
In Japan, most immigration-related matters, such as extending a residence permit, changing residence status or obtaining a return permit, are handled by the Immigration Office (Nyukoku Kanrikyoku), which has branches across the country.
All new foreign residents receive a residence permit when they first enter Japan at Narita, Haneda, Kansai or Chubu airports. New residents arriving through different ports can obtain their cards at their municipal offices.
The residence permit is an important document required to open a bank account, obtain a mobile phone, convert a driver’s license and similar activities. It stores the holder’s personal information, including the current address, residence status and period of stay. Foreign residents are required to carry their residence permit with them at all times.
Extend the residence permit
Most residence statuses allow you to stay in Japan for a period of between three months and five years. If you wish to stay longer, you must request an extension from a Japanese immigration office before the expiration date of your current residence permit.
The application process is relatively simple, provided that you still meet the conditions for specific residence status. It usually takes a few days or weeks for the request to be processed, and you are allowed to stay in Japan during this period, even if your previous residence permit expires in the meantime.
Change of residence status
It is possible to change your residency status (for example, temporary visitor to instructor or student to engineer) at an immigration office in Japan. You will need to provide documentation similar to that which you would have to provide when applying to an embassy or consulate outside of Japan.
Foreign residents who wish to temporarily leave Japan for more than a year must obtain a return permit, otherwise they lose their residency status. Re-entry permits can be obtained from immigration offices in Japan. For absences of less than one year, no return permit is required.
Foreign residents who have demonstrated good conduct and who have sufficient assets or the ability to earn a living independently, may be granted permanent residence if they reside in Japan for a number of consecutive years. For highly qualified professionals and spouses of Japanese nationals, the minimum number of years is generally one to five years, while for others, it is generally ten years. The permanent resident status is indefinite and allows all remunerated activity.
Foreigners who have resided in Japan for at least five consecutive years (less if married to a Japanese national), have shown good behavior, have never plotted against the Japanese government, have sufficient assets or the capacity to earn a living independently and are willing to give up any other nationality held may be granted Japanese nationality.