Frequently-asked Questions

Before Entering Japan

  • Q1. What is a visa?

visa (for going to Japan) is issued at a Japanese embassy or consulate general(diplomatic mission) located outside of Japan. It confirms the validity of a foreigner’s passport and also suggests that he/she would not pose any problem in Japan as long as he/she meets the conditions specified on the visa. People from some Visa Exemption Agreement countries do not have to get a visa for a short period of stay, such as for sightseeing.

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  • Q2. What is the Status of Residence system?

Japan’s Immigration Control Act sets out a Status of Residence system. The act states, "An alien may reside in Japan only under a status of residence….” Its annexed tables show all categories of resident status. Each status authorizes and prohibits activities the alien may engage in during their period of stay in Japan.


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  • Q3. What is a Certificate of Eligibility?

A Certificate of Eligibility proves that a foreign national wishing to enter Japan can comply with Japan’s landing requirements, and that they have sufficient Status of Residence in Japan. It is issued at the Immigration Bureau in Japan. It is NOT a visa; rather, it is a document you can submit with your visa application at the Japanese diplomatic mission.

The Japanese government recommends that a foreigner submit this certificate with their visa application, and you can get your visa faster if you do. However, if you live outside of Japan, you need assistance from someone in Japan to get the certificate for you.

For a Temporary Visitor visa, you do not need a Certificate of Eligibility.

Nor do you need a Certificate of Eligibility to apply for an extended Period of Stay or to change your visa status if you are already in Japan.

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  • Q4. Who may apply for a Certificate of Eligibility?

A foreign national intending to enter Japan may apply for this certificate; their agent in Japan may file the application on their behalf.

For example, a foreigner’s wife who lives in Japan may file an application on behalf of her husband. If the wife lives or studies overseas, her relative may file the application. A staff member of an organization hiring a foreign national to come to work in Japan may file an application on the prospective employee’s behalf.

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  • Q5. What is a Gyoseishoshi ?

Gyoseishoshi , also called Certified Administrative Procedure Legal Specialist, is a licensed legal professional who is authorized to perform certain legal services. Two of the important services Gyoseishoshis provide are consultation with foreigners and preparation of visa applications. Some Gyoseishoshi lawyers are authorized to file visa status applications with the Immigration Bureau on behalf of foreigners.

Foreigners must submit various kinds of “proof documentation” depending on their reasons for being in Japan and the length of their intended stay. The legal requirements concerning this documentation can be quite complex, making it difficult to know what documents you should prepare for your visa application. If your proof documentation is insufficient, you may have to go home to assemble supplemental proofs and then back to the Immigration Bureau again to submit them. If your proof documentation is insufficient, you may not be able to get a Certificate of Eligibility or enough Period of Stay. An experienced Gyoseishoshi lawyer can foresee what kind of proof documentation will be needed in your particular case and what visa status is going to be appropriate for you.

A Gyoseishoshi can file your application as an agent and pick up your Certificate of Eligibility. This saves you time and prevents your having to take days off from work.

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  • Q6. Where should I, or my representative, apply for a Certificate of Eligibility?

The Immigration Bureau has regional immigration bureaus and branch offices. Generally an application is submitted at the bureau or office that has jurisdiction over the site of the proposed activity.

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  • Q7. What is the fee for an application for a Certificate of Eligibility? For a visa?

Immigration fee for a Certificate of Eligibility is free. However, if you hire a professional agent to make the application for you, you pay the agent a fee.


The fee for issuing a visa at the Japanese diplomatic mission overseas is generally about 3,000 yen. If you use an agent instead of making the application yourself, they will charge an additional fee for their services. Consult attorneys or other agents in your country for what this fee may be.

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  • Q8. How long does it take to secure a Certificate of Eligibility? A Visa?

Depending on various factors, it may take two to three months. You may then apply for a visa. The examination time for a visa is generally a few weeks after you submit your visa application and Certificate of Eligibility to the diplomatic mission.

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  • Q9. May I enter Japan if I have a Certificate of Eligibility?

You cannot enter Japan just because you have a Certificate of Eligibility. The certificate is part of the documentation to get a visa. The visa allows you to enter Japan.

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  • Q10. Will a foreign national have problems visiting Japan if they have been denied landing (Exclusion Order) in the past?

No. However, a prior record of exclusion from Japan will suggest that they did not satisfy Landing Requirements in the past. Such foreign national must sufficiently prove that they satisfy Landing Requirements next time they visit Japan.

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  • Q11. I have been deported (or left with a Departure Order) before. May I enter Japan again?

People who have been deported or who have left with a Departure Order are prohibited from entering Japan for a certain term. If you have:

-left Japan with a Departure Order, 1 year
-been deported once, 5 years
-been deported or have left with a departure order more than once,10 years
-been sentenced to imprisonment for 1 year or more, forever

If you have a Japanese spouse who lives in Japan, however, there is a chance you may get a special permission for landing.


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  • Q12. Although I applied for a stay period of three years, I was granted a stay period of only one year. Why?

The Immigration Bureau often issues only a one-year of Period of Stay the first time you enter Japan no matter who you are and what period of stay you have requested. Later, when you apply for an extended Period of Stay, if they judge that your activity in Japan was reliable, and that you performed authorized activities well, they may issue you a full term of stay period. In other cases, however, they may issue a shorter Period of Stay: for example, if you have engaged in criminal activity or if you do not have enough money to stay.

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  • Q1. I am in Japan. What is my Status of Residence?

You can find your Status of Residence stamped on your passport or on your Zairyu Card. If you came from a Visa Exemption Agreement country for a short period of stay, your status is Temporary Visitor.

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  • Q2. Can I stay in Japan as long as I have a Status of Residence?

Each residence status has its own period of stay, the longest being three years. To stay longer, you must either file an application to extend your Period of Stay, or file an application to change to another status before the expiration date of your current stay period.

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  • Q3. I lost my Status of Residence. May I continue to stay in Japan?

You must change your status before your current period of stay expires. If you don’t, you can be arrested and deported for Overstay at any time. If you graduate from a university, you lose Student status. If you divorce a Japanese partner, you lose Spouse or Child of Japanese National status. Consult legal professionals about you choices.

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  • Q4. How long does it take to change my Status of Residence or extend my Period of Stay?

It depends on your situation and the immigration office you apply to. In a best-case scenario, it would take about one or two months to change your Status of Residence, and about two or three weeks to extend your Period of Stay.

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  • Q5. When should I start preparing to extend my Period of Stay or to change my Status of Residence?

The Immigration Bureau will not accept applications for permission to extend a Period of Stay until two months before the expiration date of your current Period of Stay. You should make your application as soon as possible after this date.

In the case of a status change, you can apply any time before your current stay period expires. However, you should consider the time it will take to collect certifications and other proof documentation before applying. You may be able to get some documentation only in your home country. If you anticipate any complications, we recommend starting as early as possible in case it takes the Immigration Bureau a long time to examine your application or your application is rejected.

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  • Q6. My Period of Stay may expire before I get permission to extend my Period of Stay. What should I do?

While your application is being examined, you can stay in Japan. However, if the Immigration Bureau rejects your application, they generally suggest you leave Japan because, since your stay period has expired, you are now considered to be overstaying. If you agree to leave, however, the Immigration Bureau will change your legal status to Designated Activities for the purpose of preparation for departure. This allows you time to leave Japan without being guilty of overstaying. This status generally has a one-month Period of Stay. However, do not apply at the last minute if you can avoid it.

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  • Q7. What are the fees for the different procedures at the Immigration Bureau?

You must buy a stamp, Syu-nyu Inshi, and submit it when you get a status or other permission. You can buy Syu-nyu Inshi at post offices, and some shops near immigration offices sell them. Stamp fees are as follows:

Permission to Change Status of Residence 4,000 yen

Permission to Extend Period of Stay 4,000 yen

Permission for Permanent Residence 8,000 yen

Re-entry Permission (one-time re-entry) 3,000 yen

Multiple Re-entry Permission 6,000 yen

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  • Q8. What if my application for extending my Period of Stay (or changing my Status of Residence) gets rejected?

If your current Period of Stay has already expired, immigration officers generally suggest that you leave Japan. If you agree with them, they will change your legal status to Designated Activities for the purpose of preparation for departure. This status generally has a one-month Period of Stay.

If you still have enough Period of Stay, say one month, you may be able to reapply as long as you have new proof documentation to supplement the rejected application. Consult legal professionals about your options.

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  • Q9. What is a Certificate of Authorized Employment?

A Certificate of Authorized Employment states the kinds of work you may do with your status. Prospective employers can make sure they are hiring you legally by checking this certificate. This certificate is designed for people who change jobs.

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  • Q10. What is the difference between deportation and a Departure Order?

A Deportation Order is issued when a foreigner is arrested by immigration officers and found to be in violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The first time you are deported, you are prohibited from re-entering Japan for five years. If you have been deported (or left Japan with a Departure Order) more than once, you may not re-enter Japan for ten years.

A Departure Order is a lighter penalty designated especially for the first offense of overstaying. If you are found guilty of overstaying for the first time and have never committed any other violation of the law, you can go to the Immigration Bureau and tell them that you are willing to leave Japan with a Departure Order. If you leave Japan with a Departure Order, you may not re-enter Japan for one year.

The Deportation Order and the Departure Order are administrative penalties imposed by the Immigration Bureau. But you may also be penalized for criminal activity by court order. If you use the Departure Order procedure, you incur only an administrative penalty (Departure Order). If you are arrested, you may get both an administrative penalty (Deportation Order) and a criminal penalty.

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  • Q11. Can I return to my country and come back to Japan during my Period of Stay?

If you leave and come back to Japan within one year, you can get simplified process called as Special Re-Entry Permission. To get the permission, you can just select a check box of "Special Re-Ently Permission" on your Embarkation (E/D) Card at the Japanese airport. If you leave Japan more than one year, you should get Re-entry Permission prior to the trip. Otherwise, your Status of Residence becomes invalid after you leave Japan. If you get Multiple Re-entry Permission, you can re-enter freely within three years as long as you have Period of Stay in Japan.

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