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VISA Overstayer: My Story

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  • VISA Overstayer: My Story

    I will tell you my story of the consequences of overstaying my VISA in the hope that it may help others in a similar situation.

    I made a genuinely stupid mistake and misread my alien registration card. I thought my "card expiry" date was my "visa expiry" date, as the card expiry date is larger and more prominent than the VISA one. A stupid mistake (so please don't remind me) and I only realised this when I went shopping at a department store for an internet connection. I was informed, in the last days of March, that my card was expired and promptly went to immigration to inform them.

    On telling my co-workers it turned out that a fellow co-worker had also made this mistake and they also went to immigration to inform them. I went to Kanagawa immigraion and my co-worker went to the Tokyo one.

    My co-worker is married to a Japanese national, speaks Japanese and attended those meetings with her Japanese parents in law. I, by contrast, speak no Japanese, have a Japanese girlfriend and attended (at first) on my own. My co-worker had no problems and was promptly processed and given a fresh VISA within a few months. My story couldn't be more different.

    I was told I had to return with someone in authority from my school. I did so in early May with my head of department. (I should note that I work at a Japanese high school). I was then processed, by which I mean that I filled out a load of forms explaining my situation and being fingerprinted and photographed.

    I was told to wait to be summoned by immigration and this would likely be early August. In fact I was summoned in late September. Technically I was not supposed to work at these times but immigration pretty much said they would turn a blind eye until a decision was made.

    My school was VERY supportive. I hade letters from my head of department, the school principal and even official immigration forms completed/signed, whereby the school said they fully supported me and would continue to sponsor me. For this September meeting I went with my school's office manager. We were separated and given very long interviews. I was asked everything possible imaginable about my life in my homecountry (the UK) and Japan. All of this was transcripted and double checked. This information was the final stage of my appeal for a new VISA (to avoid deportation) and was sent to the Ministry of Justice.

    I was summoned again in October. I was given two choices:

    (1) I continue my appeal but will I will be IMMEDIATELY incarcerated in a deportation centre at that precsise moment. The appeal, I was informed, had a 95 percent chance of being rejected and if so I would be banned from Japan for 5 years;

    (2) I accept deportation within 3 weeks (this in fact is quite "generous" for immigration) and voluntary leave the country. If I chose this then I would be banned for only one year.

    Of course I chose option (2) and will return to the UK within the week.

    This was not really a "bad" thing for me as I intended to return home in 2006 anyway. It just forced me leave in the middle of a school term, which I did/do feel bad about. On a curiously positive note, I got to meet many wonderful and interesting people in my long 2-6 hour waits in immigration and certainly have a different - more sympathetic - outlook toward immigration issues in my own country.

    I guess whether you get deportation or not depends on many factors so please dont assume that - if you are in a similar situation to me - that you would necessarily be deported. My co-workers case does illustrate that if you are married to a Japanese national they are more lenient. I also had the impression that Tokyo immigration was more lenient than Kanagawa immigration (and I actually visited Tokyo immigration to check it out).

    If things do look bleak then please let me say that deportation is not the end of the world if you intended to return home anyway, so try not to be too stressed.

    However, if you love Japan and want to stay here for a long time then please be more careful than I was.

    Hope this helps or at least interested you.

    Cheers


    Note: new immigration laws mean that overstaying your VISA one day is treated no differently from overstaying, for example, six years. This is part of Koizumi's pledge to seriously reduce the amount of VISA overstayers in Japan.

  • #2
    Sorry to hear of the result of a genuine mistake. I hope that some of the more blase members of this forum who advocate that Immigration violations are "nothing" or "no big deal" take note of this case. Anecdotally though, it seems that deliberate violations seem to have no greater punishment than accidental ones.

    Comment


    • #3
      Check it out

      Always scan over the dates of any document you get that is connected to the government and make a note of it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by electric_japan
        Always scan over the dates of any document you get that is connected to the government and make a note of it.

        I overstayed by a week or two and applied for an extension which was granted right there on the spot then flew to Korea the next day for one day then came back and reprocessed my visa and no problem. I don't quite remember it all I need to check my passport again.

        Comment


        • #5
          this is a sad story for you. however it is pleasing to hear that your school was so supportive. there are often so many stories on GP of people being screwed over by their employer. so even that does not change the outcome, perhaps you should take some solace in the fact that if you school was willing to be so helpful then they must have really valued you as an employee.

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          • #6
            Immigration has become less tolerant of these kinds of mistakes recently. The students who overstayed their student visa by a couple of days for example finding themselves in deep trouble, having overstayed their five year visa by a couple of days.

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            • #7
              bummer.

              when did the new law go into effect?


              i was at my friends house saying how i wanted to move to europe and he was like you are always talking about leaving japan. he said why do you want to leave?

              well i explained that i am a citizen of the eu and i am not a citizen of japan and the possibility of not having my visa renewed no matter how slim the chance sucks.


              then he got to thinking and got up and got his visa and low and behold it had expired three weeks before. i was like see what i mean?

              it sounded like it wasnt pleasant but they did let him stay. he has been here a long time and all but i was suprised they let him stay.

              so did this new law just go into effect?


              i hate that chance for whatever reason of getting deported.

              but i do like japan a lot and dont really want to leave. but gaijin gotta go sometime i guess......

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mcalpine
                I overstayed by a week or two and applied for an extension which was granted right there on the spot then flew to Korea the next day for one day then came back and reprocessed my visa and no problem. I don't quite remember it all I need to check my passport again.

                that was a tourist visa.


                i overstayed my first tourist visa by one day and they werent happy but i did get an extension.


                i think a working visa overstay is a lot worse... especially if you have lived here a long time and then get the boot

                Comment


                • #9
                  the new law

                  The new VISA law came into effect last year. It was based on Koizumi's pledge to halve the amount of VISA overstayers in Japan. It was the first thing I was told by immigration when I informed them that I had overstayed my VISA.

                  Japan, like Europe and North America, are on panic mode over "illegal immigrants" these days. It will likely get worse in Europe, what with the terrorist attacks and with Paris burning.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Immigration

                    Your story was very interesting. I need to get my working visa renewed in January, and i'll be making sure i go to the Tokyo Immigration Department asap, so that i don't get bumped off from working in Japan. Every 3 years comes around so quickly here.

                    Following on from your deportation story, a friend of mine had a similar experience about 4 years ago, except hers was a little sour because she had just landed a new job, but the private school she was working at suddenly changed their mind about hiring her, so she lost sponsorship at the very last minute and was deported out of the country soon after that.

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                    • #11
                      2 months in advance is the earliest that Immigration will consider an application to extend your permission to reside and work in Japan, aka incorrectly as renew your visa.

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                      • #12
                        hmmm

                        Lucky you werent a woman, I read on a human rights watch site many foreign women are raped in japanese detention centers.

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                        • #13
                          oh the joy of visa extensions!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by francc
                            Lucky you werent a woman, I read on a human rights watch site many foreign women are raped in japanese detention centers.

                            I'll call BS on that one.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by francc
                              Lucky you werent a woman, I read on a human rights watch site many foreign women are raped in japanese detention centers.


                              was that a world war ii detention center?

                              Comment

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