Excited about moving to Japan? Sure, it must sound exciting to most of us but plan well in advance to make your travel hassle-free. Allow some quality time to obtain your visa. If you are looking to live here for a period of more than six months then, it is more than likely that you would apply for a “Long-Term Visa”.
The first step for obtaining a Long-Term visa is to obtain the “Certificate of Eligibility” also, known in short as COE. If your employer is processing your visa, like it was in my case then, the COE would be initiated by them.
The approximate time required to obtain the COE is 10-12 weeks. This will make up for major portion of your visa processing time as a COE application has to be sent to the Regional Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice in Japan and has to be sent back to your home country after approval. The COE cannot be processed in your home country. So, make sure you have provided all the necessary documents/details before initiating it. Insufficient documentation can lead to considerable delays.
Once, you receive the approved COE, the next simpler step is to send an application for your visa along with your passport, original copy of COE and other necessary documents to the Japanese embassy/consulate-general in your home country. Typically, this process only takes a week and depends on the situation in your country.
A Sample of Japanese Visa [Used for entry into Japan]
It is possible to obtain a Long-Term visa without a COE but, the process takes longer (several months) and needs more documents to be sent to Japan for verification. It is recommended, that you obtain a COE before applying for the visa.
Japanese visa shown above allows you to enter Japan but however, you will be issued an Alien Registration Card (ARC) if you are a foreign national at the port of entry. This will be a card roughly of the size of a credit card with visa validity mentioned on it. An ARC could be issued for a period 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the individual’s work duration mentioned in his COE application. In my organization, some of us were issued an ARC for a period of 3 years, while others who have travelled more recently, have a validity of 1 year. The good news though, is that it can be renewed if you have a job at the time of its expiration. All you have to do is to apply for renewal with your employment details.
A Sample of Alien Registration Card [valid visa for the duration of stay in Japan]
I was quite impressed by how quickly they issued me the ARC at the Nagoya Airport. Basically, all the information is available from your COE before you travel. They, just print the ARC for you when you arrive. As soon as you land in Japan, right from the airport, one can understand how polite the Japanese staff is.
For, more information on Japanese visas, visit http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/