Getting deported is undoubtedly a scary experience. Your livelihood and everything that you have worked for is suddenly stripped away from you. If you have recently been deported, don’t worry- you are not the only one who has been through this experience! In addition to worrying, you probably have a lot of questions. For example, how long will Japan give me before I need to leave the country? What will I need to do in order to leave the country successfully? Can I even come back to Japan? Most importantly, is it even possible to come back and live in Japan as a legal citizen?
1. You’ve been deported from Japan, can you get a new VISA?
Simply put, YES, even if you have been deported, it is possible to obtain your VISA again. However, like all legal processes, it is a delicate and complex topic, with a lot depending on different factors. In this article, I will guide you through the process of getting deported as well as the process of how to gain your VISA. Please note that these are based on my personal experiences, so there may be some discrepancies.
2. Getting deported and what to expect.
If you have been deported, it will most likely be because you have overstayed the limit on your VISA. Whether this was accidental or due to personal reasons, if the Immigration Bureau finds out that you have overstayed, then you are expected to leave the country within 20 days. If you have been deported due to illegal means (usage of drugs or committing a crime) coming back to Japan becomes a little bit more difficult and can result in penalties as high as a 10-year ban on entering the country.
In my experience, my husband was deported because he had overstayed his VISA by one month. He had gone to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in order to change his student VISA to work VISA, instead, he was promptly escorted to the 6th floor to the deportation office for questioning. During these interviews, an immigration officer will explain when you will need to leave and they will give you a couple of options concerning your deportation. You are required to remain in the office until you reach a decision. Often times, the immigration officers find it difficult to explain processes in English, so it could be a good idea to have a Japanese speaking friend or family member at the office if you are not confident in your Japanese level.
You will be presented with a couple of options moving forward, the first option is you must leave Japan for at least a year. In this time, you are barred from re-entering the country. However, after the first year, you are able to come back to Japan again on a tourist VISA. The second option is a little trickier, but there is a way to avoid being deported.
3. Appealing your deportation: Hearings, Pros, and Cons
To put it simply, the Immigration Bureau gives you an option to appeal your deportation order. This could be because you are being wrongly deported or simply because you wish to stay in Japan. The process involves several hearings. At each hearing, your deportation will be judged in favor or against. In most cases, even if you are judged in favor of getting deported, the decision is ultimately up to the Minister of Justice.
The process is lengthy and there is a significant amount of time between each hearing. I was told that this process could be as short as three months or as long as six months. It is not an easy process to appeal against your deportation order, and there are significant risks to appealing.
The first is that during this period, your resident card will be taken from you. During this period, you are not allowed to work and the consequences of being caught are severe. You basically wait to hear a decision after your case has been made. In other words, you will be in a sort of limbo status, neither a citizen nor a tourist. The Immigration Bureau will be aware of your status, however, if you commit any crimes or if you are asked to show your resident card by the police and you are unable to, then you risk being hit with more serious offenses and consequences. The second risk is that if your appeal is rejected by the Minister of Justice, then you will not be able to enter Japan for five years or longer.
There is no sure-fire way to ensure that you will be able to successfully appeal against your deportation. Some cases have a stronger chance of being accepted such as pregnancy, marriage to a Japanese local or permanent resident, having a family, or inability to return to your home country due to hostile environments. In most cases though, unless there is a mistake in the paperwork and you are wrongly deported, you will most likely be deported from Japan and you will be unable to enter Japan for five years.
So, if you decide to make an appeal against your deportation, please be aware of these risks. My husband wanted to appeal his deportation order, but after hearing his options, chose to accept the deportation order. Sometimes, it may just be easier to leave Japan for a year and re-enter again at a later date.
For more information regarding appealing against deportation, please refer to this link here: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/taikyo/hikiwatashi.html
4. What should I do after I’ve received my deportation order?
If you decide to accept the deportation order and leave Japan then immigration will then give you twenty days to get your affairs in order and leave the country. They will also ask that you show up back at the immigration office within ten days with a one-way ticket to your destination of choice. However, these things are subject to change.
When preparing to exit Japan, remember to cancel any contracts you may have such as rental agreements or phone services. If you expect you’ve overstayed your VISA then it is important that you have funds set aside to cover the expenses, as the process of leaving Japan on short notice can be quite expensive. Be aware that having your furniture disposed of can be quite costly as well, so many deportees sell their items to friends or online as a cost-friendly solution.
5. Which VISA should I apply for?
In my experience, if you have successfully left the country within your given time frame, and you have not attempted to re-enter Japan for one year after your deportation order, you should be free to apply for any VISA that you wish to have.
For some, a WORK VISA is fitting as the host company will sponsor your entry into Japan. Another option is a BUSINESS VISA which basically allows anyone with a legitimate company who meets certain criteria to operate their business within Japanese borders as a legal resident. Lastly, a popular choice is the SPOUSE VISA. There are several more types of VISA for all sorts of uses. The best way to ensure that your application is accepted is by making sure that you have filled out your paperwork to a satisfactory level and having all of the required documents. If done correctly; the VISA application process can be completed as swiftly as one month. Do not be afraid to seek assistance- there are many places in Tokyo that do VISA consultations for free!
The great thing is that you can apply for a VISA as many times as you want. In my experience, getting deported had no noticeable difference when applying for a VISA. Immigration officers do ask why you have been deported, but if it was simply because you overstayed for a few days to a month, then it should not be a problem.
6. Can I change my Tourist VISA to a more permanent VISA while I am in Japan?
The most obvious way to apply for your VISA is while you are in your home country if you are sure that you want to return to Japan. But, should you travel to Japan on a tourist VISA and certain opportunities arise (job offers that support working VISAs, getting married or going to school) I am here to let you know that you can actually apply for a VISA while you are in Japan.
Although you can apply for a VISA as many times as you want, you can only apply for one type of VISA at any given time. Like most VISA applications, this process can take anywhere between three months to as long as ten months. This means that if you are on a tourist VISA, you will need to leave the country after your tourist VISA expires, regardless of the status of your VISA application. The uncertainty of when your application will go through can be off-putting for some, but for those of you who are eager to get back to your lives pre-deportation, this can be a viable option as well. However, expect the process to take longer due to your deported status.
The most important thing to remember if you are attempting to change your tourist VISA while in Japan, is that you cannot legally work in Japan if you are a tourist. When coming back to Japan, make sure that you have enough funds to cover at least three months living.
A little tip in making sure your VISA comes through in a timely manner is to call the Immigration Bureau at least twice a month to make sure that your VISA is being processed and not forgotten.
In my experience, once you have been deported from Japan, re-entering the country is always a hassle because you must state that you have been deported on your disembarkation card at the airport. You will be interviewed and held for up to an hour or longer at a holding space, while immigration officials make a decision whether to let you into the country or not. You will be asked why you were deported in the first place and it is best to just be honest and cooperative. It can be unfair, but your re-entry to Japan is largely dependant on how your immigration officer is feeling on that day.
In the past, many foreigners who were seeking to obtain a VISA often left Japan when their tourist VISA expired, and re-entered the country a week later or so, thus renewing their three-month tourist VISA. One thing I should mention is that you are not required to return to your home country if your tourist VISA expires. So flying somewhere close for a few days is always an option in the interest of saving funds.
That being said, immigration laws are being tightened and immigration officers are aware of foreigners leaving Japan for a few days, for the sole purpose of renewing their VISA, so do not expect to be let into Japan every single time you attempt re-entry.
7. Now you know how to get your VISA even if you have been deported!
Ideally, it’s a good idea to periodically check the status of your VISA just to know how long you have left before you need to think about applying for a new visa or relocating to a different country. Taking a look at your residence card to see when it expires is a must while living in Japan with any VISA status. However, like all things in life, unexpected things can happen! If you do happen to find yourself facing deportation; it is important to come armed with what steps to take next in the event you choose to fight the deportation order or take your one-year penalty. Hopefully, this article was able to help answer some burning questions you may have, as well as reassure you for next steps. What are your opinions on Japanese immigration law? Do you think Japan should ease up or tighten them? Let us know!