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Immigration

The Immigration Bureau controls all matters regarding entry and residency for foreigners in Japan. Its website contains information on immigration matters, procedures, sample forms and contact information for immigration centers throughout Japan.

It should be noted that the immigration system has undergone many changes especially in the area of Residence Management. The changes went into full effect beginning July 9, 2012. All the changes are explained in a special section of the Immigration Bureau of Japan website.

Immigration Bureau of Japan

For further information on the new immigration system, please refer to:
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau

03-5796-7111, 5-5-30 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Yokohama District Immigration Office

045-769-1720, 10-7 Torihama-cho, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa

Entry Visas

As a basic rule, all foreigners (or “aliens”) entering Japan should have a visa. If you are here for a short stay; for sightseeing or business, and have a valid passport from one of the countries with which Japan has a visa waiver arrangement, then you do not need a visa. Find a full list of these 61 countries (as of August 2012) on the MOFA website, or contact the Japanese Embassy in your home country for details.

When entering Japan for other purposes, you should apply for the appropriate visa from a Japanese Embassy or Consulate overseas before leaving for Japan. There are 7 categories of visa and 26 statuses of residence, all with different application requirements.

(Note: As of July 1, 2010 – “Pre-College Student” and “College Student” statuses were integrated into “College Student” status. Students with the status of “Pre-College Student” do not have to change their status to “College Student” after the enforcement of the law as long as there are no changes in their educational activities.)

Extending Residency

When you enter Japan, your visa will allow you to stay in Japan for a specific period. Once granted residency in Japan, be sure to make a note of the period of stay. If you wish to stay in Japan longer than this period, apply for an extension at your local Immigration Bureau before the permit expires. Overstaying may mean you have to leave Japan and re-apply for a visa.

Changing Status of Residency

To change your status of residence (i.e., the purpose of your stay), you should apply at the Immigration Bureau. It will not be necessary to leave Japan.

Re-entry Permits

If you are leaving Japan temporarily; for example on a short break or business trip, a qualifying foreign national with a valid passport and a resident card will most likely be exempt from applying for a re-entry permit in cases where he/she re-enters Japan within one year from his/her departure. Exceptional cases which require a re-entry permit will be stipulated by a Ministry of Justice ordinance. In cases of possessing a re-entry permit, the maximum term of validity for the re-entry permit shall be extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Required documents for the applications as of July, 2013:

*1 Available for download from the Immigration Bureau website.
*2 Depending on the type of residency you are applying for.
*3 Available at the Immigration Bureau.
For full details, see the Immigration Bureau website or inquire directly at your local Immigration Bureau.

Permanent Residency

As a Permanent Resident, you do not have to be concerned about your period of stay or activities in Japan. Permanent residency is granted based on your “contribution to Japan”. The nature of this contribution, the application procedure and 50 case studies of successful and non successful applications are listed on the Immigration Bureau’s website. Permanent Residents will not be required to apply for re-entry permits as long as they re-enter within one year.

Resident Cards

A “Resident Card” is required for any foreigner. Foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for a medium to long term are subject to be issued a resident card in addition to landing permission, permission for change of status of residence, and permission for extension of the residence period, etc. The card is equipped with an IC chip to prevent forgery and alteration, and the chip records all or part of the information included on the card.

Mid- to long-term residents still possessing the alien registration card (received during the former residency management system) will be asked to exchange their alien registration cards for a resident card when filing an application or notifications involving the issue of a new resident card at a Regional Immigration Office, or can exchange the alien registration card for a card at their own request at a Regional Immigration Office.

The period in which an alien registration card is deemed to be equivalent to the resident card depends on the resident status and age of the foreign national as of July 9, 2012. Please take note that the period may end before the next confirmation date written in your alien registration certificate.

Births

You should report any births to your local municipal office within 14 days and apply for your child’s resident card within 60 days. You must also apply for your child’s passport and social security number at your embassy, as well as a status of residence and period of stay certificate from your local Immigration Bureau within 30 days.

Marriages

Before getting married in Japan, contact your embassy or consulate to find out how to register your marriage in your home country, and check whether any additional procedures are required. Marriage itself only requires a visit to your local municipal office together with 2 witnesses. You will also need to update your resident card, so it will save you a trip if you do it on the same day.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Foreign Resident’s Advisory Center

03-5320-7744, Mon-Fri: 9:30am-5:00pm

City of Yokohama
Tokyo English Life Line (TELL)

TELL offers anonymous telephone counseling in English for the international and Japanese community. Trained telephone counselors provide support on a wide range of issues.
03-5774-0992, Daily 9:00am-11:00pm