Handling Japan’s immigration paperwork might be a hassle. The language barrier, complicated procedures, and long waiting times can make the process stressful. This page will help you to make your application less daunting. Here you will find a brief introduction to different visa types as well as the handy work visa comparison page that will help you to identify the right type of visa for you.
All visa types (or residence types) can be divided into two groups: temporary visas and permanent visas. Temporary visas are issued based on the type of activity you will be engaged in Japan. Usually, these are work-, business-, or study-related visas. Permanent residence visas are issues on the basis of a long-enough residence experience in Japan for your designated activity, good moral conduct, and some other crucial requirements.
The detailed information of each visa type can be found below in the corresponding articles.
Temporary Residence Visas
Permanent Residence Visas
General Application Procedure
Every application process is different due to differences in visa types and in requirements set for different countries. That is why it is impossible to make a one-fits-all scheme to explain each and every application process. However, the key points are always the same:
- Determine what visa type is most suitable for you.
- Contact your local office of the Immigration Bureau, the embassy or the consulate general to get the up-to-date list of all the necessary documents for your application.
- Once your documents are prepared, apply for a Certificate of Eligibility at your local immigration office.
- Wait for approval of your Certificate of Eligibility. You will be contacted when it is ready.
- Apply for a status of residence (also referred to as visa) at the embassy or a consulate general.
- Wait for an approval of your status of residence. You will be contacted when it is ready.
- Upon arrival in Japan you will get a residence card issued for you at the port of entry. Your personal information and your status of residence will be shown on this card. Keep it with you at all times.
What is a Certificate of Eligibility?
Certificate of Eligibility (hereinafter COE) is a document issued by the immigration office and proving that you comply with the requirements set for immigration. Once immigration office approves of your suitability for entering the country you can apply for a visa, which is also known as Status of Residence or SOR for short. Subsequently, COE is not a visa. It is a prerequisite for obtaining one.
You will not be able to enter Japan or engage in any activities there with COE, because you have to have your SOR confirmed first on a base of COE and other required documents. The list of required documents for COE can be obtained from an immigration office.
How Long Does it Take to Obtain a Visa?
In the majority of cases, it takes about 1-3 months to get your Certificate of Eligibility. This time vary depending on how busy the immigration office is and credibility of your documents. If something needs to be checked or you are asked to provide additional documents, the process will take longer.
Obtaining a status of residence is a rather short procedure and can take on average 5-14 days. Technically, you are exchanging your COE to your visa. However, if you are changing your status of residence within Japan, it will take 2 weeks. During this time you will not be able to leave the country.
The exception is the citizenship application. It requires a lot of preparations: there is a long list of documents to gather, a couple of interviews to pass, and maybe an inspection to be done at your house and workplace. Also, considering the importance of a decision to change one’s citizenship, the assessment time gets as long as 12-18 month. It is always highly recommended to start all of you paperwork well in advance.