Arrival and Immigration

The Immigration Services Agency of Japan (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english) enforces various rules and regulation related to immigration. One should visit the agency’s website for details on a range of information related to immigration. Few noteworthy details are listed here.


Residence and residence card

A valid visa is necessary to enter Japan, that should be, in general, obtained at individual’s country of origin (through Japanese embassy and/or consulate). Upon arrival at the port of entry (for instance, Narita International Airport or Haneda Airport) for the first time in Japan, every foreign national who intends to stay for over 3 months in Japan (and has supporting visa) will be given a residence card issued by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The residence card states the type of status of residence which is designated by law according to the nature of activity that is to be engaged in Japan. The status of residence is also stated next to the ‘Landing Permission’ seal on your passport. Procedures at the port of entry can be found here: https://is.gd/k1Qkps. Further details on residence card can be obtained here: https://is.gd/FiHwZn. It is noteworthy here that irrespective of the expiry date, the status of residence will be invalid as soon as one no longer works within the designated activity for which the status of residence is issued. 

After receiving the residence card at the port of entry, you must register the residence address at the local municipal office within 14 days of your arrival to Japan. Detailed procedure at the municipal office can be found here: https://is.gd/xV4Vw4. The same procedure also applies when your residence address changes, e.g., when you move from university dormitory to private apartment, etc. 

If the residence card is lost or any item on the residence card needs to be changed (besides the place of residence that is handled by the local municipal office as described above), you must visit one of the regional immigration offices. Procedure at the immigration services bureau is here: https://is.gd/I9dfGZ. For visiting the immigration bureau, one can easily find the nearest office from this website: https://is.gd/C8XbOJ. For instance, information on Saitama branch office of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau can be found here: https://is.gd/YIJjKk. Map for the same can be found here: https://bit.ly/2ZBxeMx.

For those whose duration of initially allocated residence expiry date is shorter than the study period, they are required to apply for the extension of period of stay as listed here: https://is.gd/iIP8zz. Note that your stay will be illegal if you overstay your period of stay even just by a single day. Be sure to apply for extension with ample of time to spare. 

Finally, if there is a change in your status of residence such as due to your graduation but you would continue to work in Japan, you should notify the immigration services bureau within 14 days from the change. See details here: https://is.gd/1B5tHB

It should be noted that all foreign nationals above the age of 16 years are required to carry their residence card all the time with them. Failing to present the residence card when ask by a competent authority (such as police) is a crime.


Re-entry permission

There may be a multiple instances where you need to leave and re-enter Japan (either for academic-related or personal affairs). For such, you need to have the re-entry permit to return to Japan. A detailed information on the re-entry permit is available here: https://is.gd/JpNepd. In general, if you wish to re-enter Japan within one year (or by the expiry date of the status of residence) and continue the same activity for which your status of residence was issued, a ‘special re-entry permit’ is applied (see details here: https://is.gd/VZrTxq). However, if your stay outside of Japan will be more than one year, you must obtain a ‘re-entry permit’ before leaving japan (https://is.gd/IFdPQp).


Permission to engage in activity other than those permitted under the status of residence

Most of the students enrolled are assigned “Student” status of residence and working is not permitted under this status. To engage in other activities, you must apply and obtain the “Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted” issued by the immigration bureau. Details are here: https://is.gd/Na370g. Note that those who work without this permission will be subjected to punishment including possible deportation from Japan.

If the permission is granted by the immigration bureau, you can work up to 28 hours in one week. Moreover, your spouse (if residing in Japan as your dependent) is required to obtain a similar permit if s/he wishes to engage in activity other than those permitted under her/his status of residence.

Note: Before applying for the permission to engage in other activity, make sure that this does not impact your studies for which you came to Japan. You should consult with the relevant authority in the university (including your academic adviser) before engaging in any other activity. Additionally, do not forget to check the regulation of scholarship that you are receiving as some scholarship may not permit any additional earning.


Inviting family members

A dependent visa is needed for your spouse (and children) to come to Japan and live with you. You can apply for the “Certificate of Eligibility” at the immigration services bureau on behalf of your family members. Details on the certificate of eligibility (CoE) can be found here: https://is.gd/Xujnuj. If your family member wants to come to Japan for less than 90 days and are from countries with visa exemptions (https://is.gd/fgP4Uy), CoE is not required.

Once you receive the CoE, you can send the document to your family member back home where they will submit the CoE together with other required documents to apply for visa at the Japanese embassy or consulates. 


Embassies and consulates

Information on various embassies and consulates in Japan (in case you need to contact your country’s embassy and/or consulates) can be found at the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan at: https://is.gd/5tcPj5.