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Japanese Immigration Law

Japanese Immigration system overview

1. You are required to select a Status of Residence to stay or work in Japan.

2. No status of permanent residency (even on a conditional basis) is given at the time of entry. 

3. You may apply for a status of permanent residency after residing in Japan for a certain period.

4. Work visa statuses have requirements for both company/employer and applicant, but have no numerical limit on how many applicants you can sponsor.


Certificate of Eligibility, Visa and Status of Residence

Certificate of Eligibility (COE) -  Issued by Ministry of Justice

COE is a certificate issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan before acquiring a VISA at a Japanese consulate or embassy in your home country. This doesn’t guarantee your entry or status.  

VISA  -  Issued by Japanese embassy or consulate overseas

An endorsement from a consulate or embassy on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter. This is different from your Certificate of Eligibility or your actual status of residence.

Status of Residence (SOR) – Granted by Ministry of Justice

A legal status on which you can stay or work in Japan. The status is granted upon your entry to Japan and when extending or changing your status at the local immigration office in Japan.

Residence Card – Issued by Ministry of Justice

This card is issued by immigration at the airport or later by mail if the card is not upon entry. This card is a proof of the status for those residing for mid/long term. A new card is issued every time you are granted for extension or change of status.


Applications and Notifications to Immigration

1. Applications regarding Status of Residence:

-Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

-Change of Status of Residence (SOR)

-Extension of Period of Stay

-Permission to Acquire Status of Residence

-Permanent Residence

-Re-entry Permit

-Permission to engage in activity other than that permitted under the Status of Residence

previously granted

-Certificate of Authorized Employment


2. Examples of Applications/Notifications regarding to Residence Card:

-Issuance of Residence Card

-Notification of a change on the Residence Card

-Extensions pertaining to the Residence Card

-Notification regarding Accepting/Contracting Organization

-Notification concerning the Spouse


Types of Status of Residence / Examples

1. Eligible for employment with restrictions on types work

Diplomat - Diplomat

Official - International organization officer

Professor - University professor

Artist - Composer/Artist/Writer

Religious Activities - Missionary/Priest

Journalist - Foreign correspondent

Highly Skilled Professional - Highly skilled professionals in the field of academic research, specialized/technical activities or management, who score 70 points in the points system.

Business Manager - Representative or manager of a company

Legal / Accounting Services - Attorney or certified public accountant

Medical Services - Doctor, dentist or nurse

Researcher - Researcher of a company

Instructor - Language instructor at a junior or senior high school

Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services - Engineer, interpreter, designer, or language Instructor at a private company 

Intra-company Transferee - Transferee from an office abroad

Entertainer - Actor, singer or professional sports player

Skilled Labor - Chef of foreign cuisine, sports instructor or aircraft pilot

Technical Intern Training - Technical Intern


2. Ineligible for employment

Cultural Activities - Researcher of Japanese culture

Temporary Visitor - Tourist, or conference participant

Student - Student of university, college, high school, junior high school or elementary school.

Trainee - Trainee

Dependent - Dependent family member of a foreign resident


3. Employment under special program or basis

Designated Activities Domestic worker of Highly Skilled Professional or Business Manager, Working Holiday visa holder


4. Eligible for employment without restrictions

Permanent Resident Permanent Resident

Spouse or Child of Japanese National - Spouse or Child of Japanese National 

Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident - Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident

Long Term Resident - Third-generation Japanese, spouse of Long Term Resident

Requirements for Permanent Residence
(1) The person is of good conduct. 
The person observes Japanese laws and his/her daily living as a resident does not invite any social criticism. 
(2) The person has sufficient assets or ability to make an independent living. 
The person does not financially depend on someone in the society in his/her daily life, and his/her assets or ability, etc. are assumed to continue to provide him/her with a stable base of livelihood into the future.
(3) The person’s permanent residence is regarded to be in accord with the interests of Japan. 
a) In principle, the person has stayed in Japan for more than 10 years consecutively. It is also required that during his/her stay in Japan the person has had work permit or the status of residence for more than 5 years consecutively. E.g. You will not meet this requirement if you have stayed in Japan for 6 years on a "Student" status then 4 more years on "Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services" status.
b) The person has never been sentenced to a fine or imprisonment. The person fulfills public duties such as tax payment. 
c) The maximum period of stay allowed for the person with his/her current status of residence under Annexed Table 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is to be fully utilized. 
For the time being, any person whose period of stay is “three years” shall be regarded as a “person who is allowed to stay up to the maximum period of stay”
I.e. You will need a status which is valid for 3 or 5 years. 
d) There is no possibility that the person could do harm from the viewpoint of protection of public health. 
※ (1) and (2) above do not apply to spouses and children of Japanese nationals, special permanent residents or permanent residents, and requirement. (2) does not apply for those who have been recognized as refugees 
Relaxed requirements for 10-year residence in principle as shown in (3) – a):
(1) The person is a spouse of a Japanese national, special permanent resident or permanent resident, and has been in a real marital relationship for more than 3 years consecutively and has stayed in Japan more than 1 year consecutively. Or, the person is a true child of a Japanese national, special permanent resident or permanent resident, and has stayed in Japan more than 1 year consecutively. 
(2) The person has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively with the status of long term resident. 
(3) The person has been recognized as a refugee, and has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively after recognition. 
(4) The person has been recognized to have made a contribution to Japan in diplomatic, social, economic, cultural or other fields, and has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years. 
(5) The person has continuously engaged in activities as a highly skilled foreign professional for 5 years consecutively.
Countries and Regions for Visa Exemptions
Brunei (15 days) Indonesia Malaysia Republic of Korea Singapore Thailand (15 days) Hong Kong Macao Taiwan
North America
Canada United States Latin America and the Caribbean Argentina Bahamas Barbados Chile Costa Rica Dominican Republic El Salvador Guatemala Honduras Mexico Surinam Uruguay
Australia New Zealand 
Middle East
Israel Turkey
Lesotho Mauritius Tunisia
Andorra Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Monaco Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania San Marino Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
For more information please check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Please note that, 
  1. Some charts are simplified for explanatory purposes.
  2. We try to provide quality information, but make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this website.






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