1. Prior to the Application
Q1: I want to go to Japan. Do I need a visa?
A1: People of some countries (or from some regions) do not need a visa if their period of stay in Japan is 90 days or less and they are not going to be engaged in income-earning activities. Refer to the List of Countries and Regions that have Visa Exemption Arrangements with Japan.
Q2: I want to invite a foreign national to Japan. What procedures are necessary?
A2: (1) In the case of an invitation for the purpose of a short-term stay (in the case that you are inviting relatives or friends, employees of a company with which you do business, etc. for a period of stay of 90 days or less and will not be paying them an income), please write a Letter of Reason for Invitation and draw up a Schedule of Stay. If you are inviting a person from China / Russia / CIS countries / Georgia, and if you will pay travel expenses instead of the visa applicant (who wishes to come to Japan), a Letter of Guarantee, the certificate of residence of the guarantor, and documents confirming the capacity of the guarantor to pay the expenses should also be prepared in addition to the above documents regardless of the applicant’s nationality.
(2) In the case of an invitation for the purpose of a long-term stay (spouse, working, studying, etc.), it is recommended that you start by applying to your nearest Regional Immigration Bureau to have a Certificate of Eligibility issued.
(3) Once you have prepared all of the above documents, send them to the visa applicant. Check here for details.
Q3: What should I do to get a Certificate of Eligibility?
A3: Ask your proxy inside Japan to consult with their nearest Regional Immigration Bureau.
Q4: The Certificate of Eligibility will not arrive by the time I apply for a visa. Can I still apply for a visa with its copy?
A4: If you are in a truly urgent situation for humanitarian reason, please consult with the consular section of the Japanese Embassy/ Consulate-General/ Consular Office. Meanwhile, you are required to submit the original of COE to the Immigration officer upon arrival in Japan.
Q5: Is it necessary to go to the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General by myself to apply for a visa?
A5: There are three ways to apply for a visa: (1) the visa applicant him/herself goes directly to the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General, (2) the visa applicant writes a Letter of Proxy and get a proxy to go to the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General in his / her place, and (3) the visa applicant uses an accredited travel agent approved by the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General. However, depending on the circumstances in your country or region, there are cases that the documents should only be submitted by the applicant him/herself going to the Japanese Embassy/Consulate, or through an accredited travel agent. Check with the embassy or consulate to which you plan to apply before making the application.
Q6: Can I apply for a visa at the nearest Japanese Embassy / Consulate General while traveling in a foreign country?
A6: You can apply for the visa at the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General in your own country (region) or country (region) of residence (if there is more than one, apply to the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General nearest from where you live). In other words, you cannot apply for a visa at your travel destination; however, if there are unavoidable circumstances, consult with the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General where you would like to apply for the visa before making the application.
Q7: Why was my visa application not accepted?
A7: If any of the following cases apply to you, your application may not be accepted.
- (1) Applications from persons holding Japanese nationality
- (2) The application is made to the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General outside your country (region) of birth or country (region) of residence
- (3) You currently hold a valid visa or re-entry permit
- (4) Your previous visa application to visit Japan for a specific purpose was rejected and you reapply to visit Japan for the same purpose within six months from the rejection
- (5) The visa application is already being processed at a different Japanese Embassy / Consulate General
- (6) There are some errors or omissions in the submitted documents
- (7) The period of validity or the visa attachment space of your passport is insufficient
- (8) The application is made by a person who does not have the qualifications to make a proxy application
- (9) An application for issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility is still pending
2. Application Examination
Q1: How long is the application examination period?
A1: The standard processing period, when it does not have any problem on contents of the application, takes five working days from the next day after the date of the acceptance of application. Meanwhile, it may take longer than usual if a large number of visa applications converge at a short-time period. In addition, please note that it may take more than 5 working days (ranging from a couple of weeks to several months) in such cases where additional confirmation is required (submission of additional documents, an interview with the applicant, inquiries, etc.), or when a visa application is made for a long-term stay without a Certificate of Eligibility. Thus, visa applicants are recommended to apply early for their visa well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
Q2: Why was I asked to provide additional documents?
A2: Sometimes additional information will be required for the examination process, and sometimes you will be asked in the process to submit extra documents in addition to the documents indicated as the necessary documents. Each applicant has different conditions and circumstances, and sometimes we do not become aware of these until the application has been accepted, therefore there are some documents that we do not ask everyone to submit from the beginning. If you do not submit the additional documents, the examination cannot be processed any further, and you will not be able to get the visa issued.
Q3: My departure date is approaching so could you issue the visa as soon as possible?
A3: We cannot make a decision about whether to issue or reject the visa application until the necessary examination has been completed. We process the applications fairly in the order in which we received them. Apply for the visa as soon as possible once your travel plan has been decided.
3. Issuance or Rejection of the Visa Application
Q1: Tell me why you rejected my visa application.
A1: The reason for the rejection is that your application did not meet the criteria of visa issuance. We do not give you the specific reason of the rejection because if we do so, the information would eventually become known to the public. Once that happened, there is a danger that some people might misappropriate such information to get around the visa examination process and try to enter Japan for illegal purposes. It would impede the proper visa examination process in the future and have negative effects on Japanese society. The Administrative Procedure Act, Article 3, Paragraph 1, Item 10 excludes “dispositions concerning departure and immigration of foreign nationals” from application of the obligation to show the examination criteria or the reasons for the rejection of the application.
Q2: Why was my visa application rejected even though a Certificate of Eligibility was issued?
A2: The Certificate of Eligibility does not guarantee the issuance of the visa. The certificate means that the Ministry of Justice certifies that the foreign national meets the condition of landing (entering Japan): the activity which the foreign nationals wish to engage in Japan at the time of the landing examination is not fraudulent, and the activity is qualified to acquire status of residence that is stipulated in the Immigration Control Act, etc. Therefore, in the visa examination process, we do not examine the applicability of status of residence, but some other points such as the verification of the applicant’s identity and the validity of his/ her passport. If it is found that the application does not meet the criteria of visa issuance in the process of examination, or it is determined that the Certificate of Eligibility was issued based on mistaken or fraudulent information, a visa will not be issued.
Q3: Why can’t I reapply immediately after my visa application was rejected?
A3: We do not accept your visa application if your previous application was rejected and you will apply for the same purpose of visit within six months from the rejection. This is because if, for example, we accept the same application the day after it was rejected, the circumstances of the applicant would not change so that the result of examination would be the same. However, we sometimes accept re-applications within six months in cases where your circumstances have changed significantly after the rejection, and travel to Japan is necessary for humanitarian reasons. Consult with the Japanese Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply for the visa before making the application.
Q4: Can I pay visa issuance fees with a credit card or a check?
A4: Under the laws and regulations of Japan, fees must be paid in cash using the local currency. Be aware that you cannot pay the fees using credit cards or checks. You will not be required to pay visa issuance fees if the visa is not issued.
4. Prior to Entering Japan
Q1: I want to postpone my travel. Until when is my visa valid?
A1: The period of validity of a single-entry visa (that becomes invalid as soon as once you enter Japan) is basically three months. Enter Japan within three months of the issuance of the visa. If you wish to postpone your travel for longer than three months, you will be required to make another visa application.
Q2: I have decided not to invite a foreign national to Japan after all. Could you cancel that person’s visa?
A2: Describe in a statement to the effect that you have cancelled the invitation and send it by Fax or mail together with the personal identification information of the visa applicant, to the Embassy / Consulate General that issues the visa or the Foreign Nationals’ Affairs Division, Consular Affairs Bureau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, tell the visa applicant to bring his/her passport to the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General that issued the visa for cancellation of it. Note that visa fees will not be refunded even if the visa is cancelled before being used.
Q3: I have lost my passport with the visa in it. What should I do?
A3: Contact the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General that issued the visa to inform what happened. Also, it is recommended that you submit a lost property form to the local police station. If you need a new visa, you must make an application again.
Q4: Why was my application to enter Japan rejected even though I had a valid visa?
A4: A visa is no more than one of the requirements for the application to land in Japan and it does not guarantee that you will be able to enter Japan. (There is a warning on the visa application form and your signature on the application form means you have accepted this fact.) Even if you have a valid visa, sometimes you will not be given permission to enter Japan, for example in cases where the person who makes the landing application is different from the person whose name is recorded in the visa, and also in cases where you cannot properly explain to the immigration officer the activities you plan to engage in after entering Japan.
Q1: How will the personal information submitted at the time of visa application be handled?
A1: The personal information of the visa applicant, inviting person and guarantor will be managed appropriately in the Japanese Embassy / Consulate General based on the Act on the Protection of Personal Information Held by Administrative Organs. Also, local travel agencies that wish to handle visa applications have to get the approval by Japanese embassies /consulates, and the condition of such approval is that they have agreed to manage personal information appropriately based on the aforementioned act, under the same criteria as the outsourcing organization.
Q2: What is the legal basis for the issuance or non-issuance of my visa?
A2: Under the international customary law, the decision as to whether or not to issue a visa to a foreign national is determined to be a sovereign act of each country. Japanese consuls carry out the administration related to visas based on the Act for Establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Article 4 Item 13, Article 7 Item 1, and Article 10 Item 2 and Item 3).
Q3: Isn’t the refusal of a visa for a spouse of Japanese an infringement of human rights?
A3: Entering Japan is not a right of a person of foreign nationality, so this is not an infringement of human rights. On the other hand, there are sometimes cases of human trafficking in which people from developing countries in an economically and socially vulnerable position are brought to developed countries for fake marriages, illegal work, etc. With this issue in mind, Japan is carrying out careful visa examinations in order to protect the human rights of foreign nationals, etc.
Q4: Isn’t it unfair that people from countries which exempt Japanese from tourist visas, are required to get a visa to enter Japan?
A4: Visa exemptions are not necessarily bilateral. For example, there are many cases in which developing countries give visa exemptions to Japanese as a unilateral measure because accepting travelers from Japan is economically advantageous for those countries. However, on the other hand, if Japan gave visa exemptions to people from all of those countries, there could be a negative impact on the internal security and national interest of Japan. For example, it could lead to an increase in the number of illegal overstayers and illegal workers, etc. Therefore, it is necessary to consider visa exemptions carefully from a comprehensive perspective.
Q5: As a “guarantor”, to what extent do I need to be responsible?
A5: The “guarantor” for the visa application is the person who resides in Japan and makes a promise to the head of the embassy / consulate (the Japanese ambassador/ consul-general, etc.) to the effect that the visa applicant will stay legally in Japan. The responsibilities of the guarantor only entails moral responsibilities and does not entail legal responsibilities like that of the “guarantor” in the Civil Code. However, if it is recognized that the guaranteed matters (expenses for the applicant’s stay in Japan, return travel expenses, compliance with laws and regulations) have not been performed rightly, that person would lose credibility as a guarantor in subsequent visa applications. Also, be aware that if the guarantor or inviting person made a false statement in the documents about their relationship to the visa applicant or the purpose of visit, or if that caused terrorists to enter Japan or crime such as human trafficking, they may be held criminally responsible.