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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Visa application
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
4. 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)
5. Residence card
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.
6. 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
7. 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.
8. Permission to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted
The "Student" status of residence is granted for the sole purpose of studying in Japan and as such does not permit work. However, if you file an application at a regional immigration services bureau or other such official organization and are granted permission to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted, you can work part-time.
- Persons with the "Student" status of residence who are entering Japan for the first time and have confirmed that the will be living in the country for over three months may apply for permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted at an airport, etc. when landing permission was issued.
- If applying after arrival, please do so at a regional immigration services bureau.
9. Temporary exit from Japan
An international student studying in Japan who will be returning to his/her home country temporarily or visiting another country for a short period must apply for a re-entry permit at a regional immigration services bureau.
However, those in possession of a valid passport and residence card who will be returning to Japan within one year of their departure (or before their expiration period of stay, if the period is within one year) do not need to apply for a re-entry permit at a regional immigration services bureau before leaving Japan.
10. Extension of period of stay
If a foreign national wishes to stay in Japan beyond the period of authorized stay granted to him/her at the time of entry into Japan, he/she must file for an extension of stay with a regional immigration services bureau, etc. in Japan before his/her original period of authorized stay expires. (Usually, a foreign national can file for an extension of stay three months before the expiration of his/her original period of authorized stay in Japan.) Staying past the period of authorized stay in Japan without doing so can incur serious penalties or deportation.
11. Changing of the status of residence
When the activity (student) initially applied for is discontinued, status of residence must be changed to a different type in order to engage in other activities (employment, etc.). The application must be filed at a regional immigration services bureau.
12. Revocation of the status of residence
Status of residence can be revoked in cases where a foreign national has reported falsely on his/her activities, personal history or submitted false documents.
13. Bringing dependents to Japan
Dependent spouses and children of international students who study under the status of residence of "Student" in universities can reside in Japan under the status of residence of "Dependent" based on the period of stay of the international student supporting them.
It is recommended that international students bring their dependents after they are familiar with life in Japan and are economically stable.
14. Notification and application to the immigration services agency and the municipal office
File a notification or application as soon as possible in the following cases:
- Regional immigration services bureau
Any change in the name, sex, date of birth, nationality/region or school, or if your residence card is lost or damaged, etc.
- Municipal office
When your address in Japan changes, before returning to your home country after finishing studies in Japan, etc.