Immigration procedures and status of residence related to studying abroad
Visa and status of residence
People wishing to study in Japan must apply for a visa first. There are several types of visa, and the person's status of residence is determined according to his/her reason for coming to Japan, status and position. The one applicable to international students for study at a university, a junior college, a college of technology, a professional training college, or a Japanese language institute etc., in Japan is "Student." Periods of stay are as follows: 4 years and 3 months, 4 years, 3 years and 3 months, 3 years, 2 years and 3 months, 2 years, 1 year and 3 months, 1 year, 6 months or 3 months.
Application for Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence (COE)
An international student wishing to study in Japan or his/her proxy (e.g., a family member of the student or an employee of the school accepting the student) will first apply for an authorized COE at a regional immigration services bureau in Japan.
- In many cases, the school accepting the international student will serve as the student's proxy.
- Please check with your school on documentation requirements when applying, as each school may have its own requirements.
Evidence showing the applicant's ability to pay all expenses during his/her stay in Japan
When applying for a COE or visa, you may be asked for proof that you are able to cover your expenses while studying in Japan.
A savings balance certificate, income certificate covering the past several years or taxation certificate of the person wishing to study in Japan (or his/her guarantor), etc.
Once the COE is issued, the visa application form can be submitted to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country.
- Visa application form
- Documents other than the above
Entry to Japan
When entering Japan, the following documents are required.
- Visa from Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country
- COE (If already issued)
A residence card (zairyu card) will be issued for a foreign national residing in Japan for more than three months. It is important that this residence card is carried at all times.
Issue of residence card:
When entering Japan via New Chitose, Narita, Haneda, Chubu Centrair, Kansai, Hiroshima or Fukuoka Airport:
During the immigration process, a Landing Permission stamp will be affixed in your passport and a residence card will be issued. After you determine where you will live in Japan, please bring your residence card to the municipal office administering your address within 14 days to register as a resident.
When entering Japan via airports other than those mentioned above:
During the immigration process, a Landing Permission stamp will be affixed in your passport, with a seal indicating the later issuance of a residence card. After you determine where you will live in Japan, please go to the municipal office administering your address within 14 days to register as a resident. Be sure to bring your passport bearing the seal mentioned above. Your residence card will be mailed to your registered address at a later date.
Social security and tax number ("My Number")
In Japan, an individual 12-digit social security and tax number (also called "My Number" or "individual number") is given to all residents. Sometime after completion of resident registration at the municipal office of your address, you will be sent a card notifying you of your individual number. Please keep this notification card or individual number card (issued upon application) in a safe place, as your individual number is required in some situations, such as when completing important procedures at the municipal office. Please also note that this number is different from the 12-digit number written on your residence card.
The following are examples of when your individual number is required:
- When completing procedures at the municipal office (such as for National Health Insurance)
- When starting part-time work
- When receiving money from a foreign country at the bank
Immigration procedures for entrance exam purposes
If a foreign national travels to Japan to take an exam, he/she must obtain a "Temporary Visitor" visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in his/her country by presenting the exam voucher of his/her school of choice. With a "Temporary Visitor" visa, you may be able to stay in Japan for 15, 30, or 90 days. If a foreign national is a national of a country under the Visa Exemption Arrangements, he/she will not need to apply for a visa.
If you are a national of a country under the Visa Exemption Arrangements, as a rule, you must return to your home country after passing the exam to obtain a "Student" status of residence.