Visa: Frequently Asked Questions
October 19, 2017
Q: What is the difference between a “Visa” and a “Status of Residence”?
A: A “Visa” is a kind of recommendation by a visa officer of the Embassy/Consulate-General of Japan that the passport or travel document which a foreign national wishing to enter Japan holds has been legally issued by the foreign authority and is valid for entry to Japan and also that the visa officer has no objection to the foreign national’s entry to and stay in Japan, subject to the conditions of the visa. A “Visa” merely recommends the entry and stay of the foreign national and does not absolutely guarantee landing permission, which remains at the discretion of the Japanese immigration authorities. In principle, foreign nationals who wish to enter Japan must be in possession of a valid passport and visa, the latter of which can be applied for and issued at an Embassy/Consulate-General of Japan before entry to the country.
A “Status of Residence” is an immigration status granted by an immigration officer following immigration inspection at the port of entry, which indicates the conditions of stay in Japan. Foreign nationals who have been granted a “Status of Residence” are allowed to engage in those activities permitted by the status of residence. A “Period of Stay” is given when an immigration officer permits landing at the same time as the granting of the “Status of Residence” and the foreign national can stay in Japan for that period of time.
Q: What is a “Certificate of Eligibility”?
A: Japanese immigration law stipulates that the Ministry of Justice has the authority to consider, based on an application, whether a foreign national wishing to enter Japan satisfies the requirements for landing related to the status of residence and to issue a document certifying the status of residence to which the activities to be engaged in correspond. This document is known as a “Certificate of Eligibility,” which is issued by a regional immigration bureau. If you wish to stay for a long period in Japan to work or study etc, please obtain a certificate through your representative in Japan. Applying for a visa with a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’ makes the visa issuance process faster and more straightforward.
Q: I will stay in Japan for 3 YEARS as a spouse of Japanese national, but, the period of validity of my visa of “Spouse of Japanese National” is 3 MONTHS from 2 March 2012 to 2 June 2012. I am wondering if it is a misprinted visa and the correct one is 3 YEARS?
A: The period of validity on a visa does not indicate the period which the visa holder can stay in Japan but the available period of time within which the person has to use it. Please be reminded that you must undergo an immigration inspection before that expiry date since the visa becomes invalid once that period of validity has elapsed.
Q: How long will it take to issue a visa?
A: It normally takes 5 working days to issue a visa (for example, if we accept a visa application on Monday, the visa will normally be issued the following Monday). However, it will take longer to complete the process if we require further confirmation, such as additional documentation or an interview, or if an applicant for a long-term stay applies for a visa without submitting a “Certificate of Eligibility” (Some cases may require several weeks or months).
A visa application with the above-mentioned certificate takes only 4 working days, as long as there are no problems (Monday applications will normally result in a Thursday issue).
Please note that working days do not include the days our office is closed such as Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Please check the Embassy Guide page for the current list of Embassy holidays.
Q: How long is a visa valid for?
Single-entry visas are only valid for entering Japan on one occasion. The period of validity of the single-entry visa is three months. Please make sure that the bearer of visa apply for landing with an immigration inspector at the port of entry where he/she seeks to land and undergo an examination for landing before the visa is expired. The visa will become invalid once he/she applied for landing or be expired by reaching expiry date which is earlier.
The extension of period of validity of visa is not possible. If a foreign national residing in Japan wish to have his/her period of stay extended while he/she is in Japan, please consult with the regional immigration bureau.
Multiple-entry visas can be issued to business travelers, etc. The period of validity of these visas is from one to five years, and these visas can be used any number of times during their period of validity.
Q: Do I need to make an appointment to apply for a visa?
A: We do NOT have an appointment system. Please visit our office during opening hours (Mon-Fri, excluding Bank holidays, 9:30-16:30) with your visa application and the required documentation.
Q: How many unused visa pages do I need to have remaining in my passport when I apply for a visa?
A: A Japanese visa needs one full visa page and the Japanese immigration authorities need at least half a visa page for landing permission and departure confirmation stamps, therefore at least one and a half pages are essential at the time of visa application. If your passport does not have enough remaining pages, you should make sure that you first obtain a new passport or supplement of visa pages before making an application. Please note that we cannot use any pages other than designated visa pages to issue a visa seal or immigration stamp.
Q: How much extra validity do I need to have on my passport at the time of entry to Japan?
A: The relevant Japanese law does not have a specific regulation regarding this matter. However, if your passport is going to expire soon after you enter Japan, it will be necessary for you to renew or extend the validity of your passport at your country’s Embassy/Consulate-General in Japan, however, some of them may not have such a passport service. Therefore, you are strongly recommended to enter Japan on a passport which will be valid for longer than your planned period of stay.
Q: Since my passport with a valid Japanese visa has expired, I have obtained a new passport. Would it be possible for me to use the Japanese visa which is in the expired passport when I undergo an immigration inspection at the airport?
A: You can show both the new passport and the old passport with the visa at border control. Alternatively, a visa transfer service is also available at our office. Please contact the visa officer for further details.
Q: I lost my passport with my Japanese visa in. What should I do?
A: You should report the loss to the Embassy/Consulate-General of Japan where you obtained the Japanese visa immediately. Also, you are advised to report the loss to the nearest police station. If you need another visa, you will have to submit a new visa application along with the required documentation.
Q: Do I need to show my return flight ticket to the immigration officer at border control when I wish to enter Japan as a tourist?
A: We do not have the authority to answer questions regarding the necessary documentation for immigration inspection because it remains at the discretion of the Japanese Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice. We strongly advise, however, that you carry documentation proving your intention to leave Japan when you finish your stay, such as a return flight ticket, as well as documents proving your planned activities and funds for your stay to ensure that the immigration inspection proceeds as smoothly as possible.
Q: Why did you reject my visa application?
A: The reason for the rejection is that your application did not meet the criteria of visa issuance. We do not give you the specific reason of the rejection because if we do so, the information would eventually become known to the public. Once that happened, there is a danger that some people might misappropriate such information to get around the visa examination process and try to enter Japan for illegal purposes. It would impede the proper visa examination process in the future and have negative effects on Japanese society. The Administrative Procedure Act, Article 3, Paragraph 1, Item 10 excludes "dispositions concerning departure and immigration of foreign nationals" from application of the obligation to show the examination criteria or the reasons for the rejection of the application.
Q: I am a British national and am intending to stay in Japan for sightseeing for 6 months. Do I need a visa?
A: A British citizen who has a British ordinary passport does not need to obtain a “Temporary Visitor Visa”, as long as the purpose of stay is for the activities permitted within the status of residence of “Temporary Visitor” and the period of stay is 6 months or less, as the visa exemption agreement between Japan and the UK will apply. In principle, a period of stay of 90 days may be given at immigration control at the airport. If you wish to continue staying in Japan for more than 90 days, you need to apply for an extension of your period of stay at a regional immigration bureau before the original period of stay expires.
Q: I am a Brazilian national and currently sightseeing in England. Is it possible for me to apply for a Japanese visa at the Embassy of Japan in the UK?
A: In principle, the Embassy of Japan does NOT accept visa applications from persons currently in the UK on a ‘Visitor’ status such as ‘Tourist’. However, the Embassy can accept visa applications from foreign nationals residing in the UK with a legitimate long term immigration status such as company employees, students or permanent residents. In the case of visitors to the UK, applications should be made at an Embassy of Japan or Consulate-General of Japan in the applicant’s country of origin or residence.
Q: I am a British citizen. Can I apply for a “Working Holiday Visa” at a Japanese Embassy in countries other than the UK?
A: Visa applications for a “Working Holiday Visa” by British citizens can only be accepted at the Embassy of Japan in the UK or the Consulate-General of Japan in Edinburgh (for those living in Scotland and the North of England).
Q: How much funding do I require proof of when applying for a tourist visa?
A: There is no fixed answer to this question because we do not make a decision based on the amount of funding only and all factors in an application including the purpose of journey, period of stay etc, are taken into account in order to arrive at a decision regarding the issuance of visas.
Q: I wish to work in Japan, but have not found any employment yet. Is it possible to enter Japan as a tourist first, and then change my status of residence from “Temporary Visitor Visa” to a status of residence which permits me to work, once I have found work in Japan?
A: You may have problems on arrival and you may not be permitted to enter Japan if you undergo immigration inspection as a temporary visitor despite your real intention being to stay for a long period to work or settle. Also, you will not always be permitted to change your status of residence even if you are given permission to enter as a “Temporary Visitor.” Accordingly, please ensure that you apply for the appropriate visa with a “Certificate of Eligibility” at an Embassy/Consulate-General of Japan before you depart for Japan.
Q: I would like to visit Japan to marry my fiancé living in Japan. Which visa should I apply for?
A: If your purpose of trip is for marriage, you should apply for a “Temporary Visitor Visa.”
Q: I would like to accompany my common-law partner who is going to stay in Japan with the status of residence of “Intra-company Transferee”. Can I apply for a “Dependent Visa”?
A: A common-law partner cannot apply for a “Dependent Visa” because only a legal spouse (as recognised by Japanese law) or child dependent of the main visa applicant/holder is eligible.
Q: I will be staying near Narita airport for one night to transit to a flight leaving Japan the next day. Do I need a visa?
A: If you are a foreign national who is exempt from obtaining a Temporary Visitor Visa such as a British Citizen with a British ordinary passport, you do not need to obtain a visa. If you are not, you should ensure that you obtain a “Transit Visa” in advance for Japanese immigration inspection. Please contact the visa officer for further details.
Q: I am considering living in Japan with the status of residence of “Dependent” as the spouse of my husband who is working as a professor in Japan. Am I allowed to work?
A: Foreign nationals with the status of residence of “Dependent” or “Student” etc. (which does not permit work) who wish to work must first obtain a “permit to engage in activities outside their residence status” from the Japanese immigration authorities. For further information, please contact a regional immigration bureau in Japan.
Q: What is a “Re-entry Permit”?
A: A re-entry permit is a permit granted by the Ministry of Justice before departure from Japan in order to simplify immigration procedures for foreign nationals living in Japan who wish to leave Japan temporarily and re-enter before the date of expiry of the period of stay. If you leave Japan without obtaining a re-entry permit, your status of residence and period of stay will cease at the time of departure, and you will be required to obtain a new visa at an Embassy/Consulate-General of Japan and undergo immigration inspection at a port of entry again as a new entrant. On the other hand, if you embark with a re-entry permit, you do not need to obtain a new visa before you re-enter Japan, and your original status of residence and period of stay is deemed to continue while you are abroad. There are two types of permit: single re-entry permit and multiple re-entry permit which can be used repeatedly up to the expiry date. You can apply for a re-entry permit at a regional immigration bureau.
Q: What is the "Special Re-entry Permit System"?
A: The special re-entry permit system is one in which the following foreign nationals who are in possession of a valid passport will be treated in the same manner as having been granted a one-year re-entry permit (two-years re-entry permit in the case of special permanent residents) if they leave Japan having expressed their intention of returning to Japan.
- Mid-to-long-term residents with a valid residence card.
- Foreign nationals residing in Japan with the status of residence of "Diplomat" or "Official" (applicable only to those foreign nationals who have been granted a period of stay of over three months).
- Staff of the Japanese office of the Association of East Asian Relations and the Permanent General Mission of Palestine in Japan, with the status of residence of "Designated Activities" (applicable only to those foreign nationals who have been granted a period of stay of over three months).
- Special permanent residents with a special permanent resident certificate.
However, if the period of stay for the abovementioned foreign nationals ends within one year of their departure, the period of the special re-entry permit will also expire on the date of expiry of the period of stay.
Q: I have “Permanent Resident” status and am now staying in the UK with a re-entry permit. I cannot re-enter Japan by the expiry date of the re-entry permit due to illness and I am currently in hospital. What should I do?
A: You can extend the period of validity of your re-entry permit for a maximum of 1 year, and not exceeding 6 years from the issue date of your re-entry permit (7 years in the case of “Special Permanent Resident”), as long as you are judged to have a genuine reason why you are unable to re-enter Japan within the validity period of your re-entry permit. However, we cannot give you an extension beyond your original period of stay. Please note that if you wish to extend your re-entry permit, you should ensure that you apply within the period of validity of your original re-entry permit.
However, those persons leaving Japan on a "Special Re-entry Permit" cannot extend the period of validity outside Japan.
Q: I am a British national with the status of residence of “Permanent Resident” and have come back to the UK temporarily with a re-entry permit. Since my passport has expired, I have obtained a new UK passport. Can I get the status of residence and re-entry permit stamps transferred to my new passport?
A: Embassies/Consulates-General of Japan do not have the authority to transfer immigration status stamps, including re-entry permits, to another passport. You are advised to re-enter Japan with both passports and make an application to transfer the stamps at a regional immigration bureau.
Q: I lost my passport containing my re-entry permit. What should I do when I wish to re-enter Japan?
A: First, please contact your relative or representative in Japan and ask them to obtain your “Certificate of the re-entry permit deadline”（再入国許可期限証明書）from the nearest immigration office. You can then go to Japan with your new passport and the original certificate which has been sent to you from Japan.