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Are you considering moving to Japan?
The first step is to obtain a visa.
A visa is essentially a “permit to live in Japan.” You will need to apply for it and a visa is issued once your application is approved.
In this article, we will explain how to obtain a visa to live in Japan for those who are considering a long-term stay in Japan, to study or work.
- Flowchart of visa issuance procedure
- 1. Confirm the status of residence
- 2. Obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility”
- 3. Prepare necessary documents
- 4. Apply at the nearest Japanese Embassy/Consulate-General
- 5. Obtain the visa upon screening and approval
- 6. Enter Japan within 3 months of the visa issuance
Flowchart of visa issuance procedure
The procedure for obtaining a visa for working or long-term stay in Japan is as follows:
- Confirm the status of residence.
- Obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility.”
- Prepare necessary documents.
- Apply at the nearest Japanese Embassy/Consulate-General.
- Obtain the visa after screening and approval.
- Enter Japan within 3 months of the visa issuance.
Each step is explained in detail below.
1. Confirm the status of residence
The following website provides various different types of visas and what documents are needed to apply for working or long-term stay in Japan.
2. Obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility”
We recommend that you obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility” before applying for a visa if your planned visit is for work or long-term stay.
Without the “Certificate of Eligibility,” it takes time for a visa to be issued.
What is “Certificate of Eligibility”?
For those who plan to visit Japan for work or long-term stay, you can get the Regional Immigration Services Bureau to review whether the purpose of your visit meets the requirements to enter Japan. If the Regional Immigration Services Bureau determines that it does, a Certificate of Eligibility will be issued.
You may apply for the Certificate of Eligibility directly or through a representative. The applicant or representative has to be in Japan to apply.
We recommend that you present this Certificate of Eligibility when applying for a visa. If you present this Certificate of Eligibility to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General when you apply for a visa, you will normally receive the visa within 5 working days. In addition, it can also be presented at the immigration, and helps the immigration process.
Certificate of Eligibility does not guarantee visa issuance.
If it is found during the visa examination process that the applicant does not meet the principle criteria for visa issuance, the visa may not be issued even if the Certificate of Eligibility is issued.
It usually takes one to three months for a Certificate of Eligibility to be issued. Since some of the required documents may take time to obtain, the time from when you actually start preparing until you receive the certificate is expected to be even longer.
Therefore, you should carefully plan your schedule for immigration and begin preparation as early as possible!
How to apply for the Certificate of Eligibility
You can apply for the Certificate of Eligibility either by yourself or by your representative. In either case, the person applying has to be in Japan.
The application needs to be submitted to the Regional Immigration Services Bureau located in Japan.
Therefore, we recommend that you ask your employer or a relative residing in Japan to be your representative and apply on your behalf, and once the Certificate of Eligibility is issued, you ask him/her to send the Certificate to you.
The application procedure is described on the Immigration Services Agency’s website below.
The Immigration Services Agency has established “Immigration Information Centers” to handle telephone or in-person inquiries in Japanese and foreign languages. You can find the telephone number on the website below.
Effective March 17, 2023, it is now possible to receive a Certificate of Eligibility by e-mail!
You can send the hard or soft copy of the Certificate of Eligibility when applying for a visa. Please have your representative send the Certificate to you by e-mail.
3. Prepare necessary documents
Since it takes time for the Certificate of Eligibility to be approved and issued, you should prepare the necessary documents for visa application in the meantime.
The list of documents required for visa application is provided on the following website (as we previously noted in the procedure #1).
4. Apply at the nearest Japanese Embassy/Consulate-General
Once you have the Certificate of Eligibility and the necessary documents for visa application, apply for a visa at the nearest Japanese Embassy/Consulate-General.
The list of Japanese Embassies, Consulates, and Permanent Missions as well as the links to their respective websites are provided on the website below. Please refer to this page to find the location and contact information for your nearest Japanese Embassy/Consulate-General.
There are three ways to apply for a visa.
- You apply for the visa at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General.
- Your representative with a letter of attorney applies for the visa at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General on your behalf.
- You apply for the visa at an agency approved by the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General.
However, there may be unique cases where the applicant must apply in person in principle or through a proxy agency in principle. Since this depends on the country, please check the above websites in advance!
In addition, you may be contacted by the Embassy to meet with them in person or submit additional documents. In such case, act quickly to expedite the screening process.
5. Obtain the visa upon screening and approval
Once the screening process is completed and your visa application is approved, you will be notified. You can then go and pick up your passport with the valid visa!
6. Enter Japan within 3 months of the visa issuance
Your visa as well as Certificate of Eligibility is valid only for 3 months.
Therefore, you should apply for a visa as soon as your Certificate of Eligibility is issued. Then, once the visa is issued, try to enter Japan before the Certificate of Eligibility expires.
In order to live in Japan, valid visa is necessary.
If you follow the steps outlined in this article and understand the necessary documents and procedure, you will be able to smoothly complete the visa application process and prepare to begin your life in Japan.
We hope that you have wonderful time in Japan!
The information contained in this article is based on the information available as of March 31, 2023.