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Visa system in Japan - essential prerequisites to understand

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  • Visa system in Japan - essential prerequisites to understand

    As I wrote in an earlier post,

    Originally posted by bland
    The section "B. Characteristics of a Visa" at this website (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) is a must-read for understanding the Japanese visa system:
    http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/01.html#b

    In the Japanese system, a "visa" (or, more precisely, what is officially called a "visa") is really only an entry permit (typically, a single-use (single entry) permit). The (single-use) visa (entry-permit) is immediately cancelled when you enter Japan, and the "Status of Residence" that you are given if you're allowed in is the legal basis for your stay in Japan
    http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...115#post252115


    I think most of the regulars on this forum understand this. That page on the MOFA website is probably one of the most quoted from and referred to.

    Although perhaps what is hard to grasp after reading that page is that...

    Originally posted by bland
    What this means is that the information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (as well as the websites of embassies / consulates of Japan) is not relevant after you've entered Japan, unless you are planning to leave Japan and come back with a new visa.

    Once you're in Japan, you need switch to the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice website:

    http://www.immi-moj.go.jp
    http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...541#post304541


    There are many examples in posts in internet forums where the posters have not understood this prerequisite knowledge, and have become confused, frustrated, inconvenienced, and have even been penalised (if, in the worst case, their misunderstanding caused an illegal overstay) as a result.

    Here is an example of perhaps the worst that can happen if you don't understand this essential prerequiste knowledge:

    "Missed the boat, <expletive> out of luck, <expletive> <expletive> <expletive>"
    http://www.bigdaikon.org/board/viewt...18cfb57acc2648


    The poster says:
    On my VISA the final date is Oct 04 2007.
    What is actually written on the visa is:

    Date of expiry 07 OCT 04

    (Which means that the poster had until 7th October, 2004 to use that visa to enter Japan (which,was done on 25th July 2004, so the three-year period allowed in Japan ended on 25th July 2007. On 26th July 2007, not having left Japan or lodged an application to change or extend the Status of Residence, the person became an illegal overstayer))


    But the other thing the poster didn't realize, is that this SINGLE-use (No. of entries SINGLE) visa was stamped "USED", was therefore essentially null and void, and hence the dates and other information written on the visa label were no longer relevant anyway.

    (edit: and even if the visa was not stamped USED (eg, if it was a MULTIPLE entry visa (No. of entries MULTIPLE)), after you've entered Japan, the visa label (the big impressive label in your passport with a hologram, that has JAPAN VISA written on it) has got nothing to do with how long you're allowed to stay - you need to look at your LANDING PERMISSION sticker (or the currently-valid CHANGE PERMIT or EXTENSION PERMIT if you've subsequently changed or extended respectively your Status of Residence). This info is also recorded on your Certificate of Alien Registration)

    Not understanding this, and incorrectly reading an irrelevant date on a document that was no longer valid anyway (while at the same time ignoring the item (11) PERIOD OF STAY on their Certificate of Alien Registration, (which would have been written, in large type, on the front of the certificate as: 2007年07月25日), and also ignoring the LANDING PERMISSION sticker in their passport, which would have said Until 25.JUL.2007), the poster illegally overstayed, and appears to have come close to having forfeited a much-planned and much-looked-forward to trip.

    (edit: It appears that, with an apologetic attitude, support from their (public-sector) employer, etc, this person's affairs have been put in order)

    Perhaps the Immigration Bureau should increase the size of the red "USED" stamp that is stamped over SINGLE entry visas when they're used, or perhaps put a large "VOID" or "CANCELLED" stamp over it, to help stop people referring to something that's no longer applicable.

    The computer-printed LANDING PERMISSION stickers, which replaced wet stamps in October 2003, explicitly state the date by which you must leave, so this helps. However, the visa label is so large, clear, and important-looking (and in many cases, it's come across first when leafing through your passport), that I suppose it's a bit counter-intuitive that the label is no longer valid.
    Last edited by bland; 2009-08-09, 06:15 PM. Reason: URL update

  • #2
    Originally posted by bland
    Perhaps the Immigration Bureau should increase the size of the red "USED" stamp that is stamped over SINGLE entry visas when they're used, or perhaps put a large "VOID" or "CANCELLED" stamp over it, to help stop people referring to something that's no longer applicable.
    With so many people appearing to have sh*t for brains, you could put a stamp the size of a toilet seat in their passport and they would still not understand it.

    It's a good thing that the pumping of blood through the heart and breathing are more or less automatic, otherwise these people would have been buried long ago.....

    Comment


    • #3
      re-entry permit

      Related to confusion about the visa system, is confusion about the re-entry permit, and the correct way to use it (or not use it, as the case may be).

      Note: See post #10 regarding changes from 9th July 2012:
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...=1#post1246262

      If you don't have a (valid) re-entry permit, your only option when leaving Japan is to fill in the EMBARKATION CARD FOR FOREIGNER (the stub stapled to your passport when you enter Japan), and surrender your Certificate of Alien Registration (if you've been issued with one). Your Status of Residence (together with any pending application to change or extend that Status of Residence) ceases - you'd need to apply for a new visa etc if you wanted to live / work etc in Japan at a later time. The Immigration Bureau staff at departure will bring to your attention any irregularity, such as you submitting the EMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT, trying to retain your Certificate of Alien Registration, or trying to use the auto gate.



      However, if you do have a valid re-entry permit, you have two options when leaving Japan:

      (1) Use the re-entry permit - You fill in the EMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT (and part of its stub, which will be stapled to your passport, the DISEMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT), and retain your Certificate of Alien Registration. Your Status of Residence continues, uninterrupted, during your time outside Japan. If registered, you can use the auto gate (where available).

      (2) Don't use the re-entry permit - fill in the above EMBARKATION CARD FOR FOREIGNER, and surrender your Certificate of Alien Registration as you leave (the effect is the same as if you didn't have a re-entry permit, as described above). (You cannot use the auto gate in this situation)


      What this means is...

      - Even if you have a valid re-entry permit, you need to pay attention to the departure / re-entry procedures to correctly use it to re-enter Japan with your Status of Residence continuing.

      - Just because you have a re-entry permit, doesn't mean you have to use the re-entry permit (although of course you MUST choose to use it if you want to continue your Status of Residence).

      - When leaving Japan with a valid re-entry permit in your passport, you need to take care to use the correct form, because the Immigration Bureau staff at departure may not necessarily be able to bring to your attention any irregularity (eg, if you filled in EMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT, when you're actually leaving Japan "for good").



      (edit 2008-10-22)

      The Immigration Bureau has posted PDF samples of the new ED cards. As explained here, the new forms will be compulsory from 2008-11-20.
      http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan74.html


      EMBARKATION CARD FOR FOREIGNER / DISEMBARKATION CARD FOR FOREIGNER (PDF)
      http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000007308.pdf

      EMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT / DISEMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT (PDF)
      http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000007309.pdf





      A range of posts attest to the variety of errors in relation to the re-entry permit:



      Forgot to obtain a re-entry permit

      "Big Problem -- Left Japan With No Re-entry Permit"
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?t=41530
      (This was eventually able to get sorted out by entering Japan as "Temporary Visitor" ( for "90days") under the visa exemption arrangement, and then lodging an application to change Status of Residence (in this case, from "Temporary Visitor" to "Spouse or Child of Japanese National"), however the post attests to the stress and anxiety that has resulted)



      (Regretfully in hindsight) left Japan "for good", having a valid and never-used multiple re-entry permit, but without using the re-entry permit

      "Visa expired?"
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?t=35059
      (In this case, the Immigration Bureau officer at departure noticed it was odd that he had gone to the trouble and expense of obtaining a multiple re-entry permit, but was intending to leave "for good", such that the re-entry permit would never be used.)



      Intended to leave Japan "for good" but, incorrectly, used the re-entry permit

      "Claiming pension with an active visa+gaijin card??"
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?t=41830


      Also related,

      "Re-entry permit-whats it for?"
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?t=23153
      (explains how the re-entry permit system relates to the resident registration system)

      "Re-entry Permit and Landing Permission Question"
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?t=31792
      (regarding re-entry permits, in the case of a MULTIPLE entry visa)

      "Single or Multiple Re-entry Permit?"
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...263#post559667
      (discussion about deciding between the two)


      Application paperwork for re-entry permit:
      http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...963#post554963


      "Application for Re-entry Permit" - official info:

      http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/te...hyorui/06.html
      (English)

      http://www.moj.go.jp/ONLINE/IMMIGRATION/16-5.html
      (Japanese)
      Last edited by bland; 2012-04-29, 03:01 PM. Reason: url update

      Comment


      • #4
        visa label not stamped USED

        Originally posted by bland
        ...and even if the visa was not stamped USED (eg, if it was a MULTIPLE entry visa (No. of entries MULTIPLE)), after you've entered Japan, the visa label (the big impressive label in your passport with a hologram, that has JAPAN VISA written on it) has got nothing to do with how long you're allowed to stay - you need to look at your LANDING PERMISSION sticker (or the currently-valid CHANGE PERMIT or EXTENSION PERMIT if, you've subsequently changed or extended respectively your Status of Residence). This info is also recorded on your Certificate of Alien Registration)
        It should be noted that there are a number of situations where (rightly or wrongly), the visa label (the big label with JAPAN VISA on it) is not stamped "USED":

        (1) The visa is a multiple-entry visa (No of entries MULTIPLE)
        ...(although multiple visas remain valid until the date of their expiration).
        http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/01.html#b2



        (2) The visa was intentionally not "used"

        For example, Relic successfully requested that the visa not be used, and was allowed in as "Temporary Visitor" under the visa exemption arrangement. This allowed his single-use visa to be used to enter Japan on a later occasion.
        Originally posted by Relic
        I had gotten my spouse visa from the Japanese embassy in London, but needed to fly to Canada one week after entering Japan due to a family illness. My wife explained it to the immigration officer and I was let in on a tourist visa, then used my spouse visa when I returned from Canada
        http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...786#post252786



        (3) The visa was unintentionally not "used"

        (eg, if the Immigration officer ignored, or didn't notice the visa, and admitted the person as "Temporary Visitor" under a visa exemption arrangement. I haven't heard of this happening in Japan (and I think that, since the computerization in October 2003, it's less likely to happen), but I have heard of this happening on entry to another country.)

        This could cause problems if not detected and corrected. This would hopefully be recognised as a clerical error and adjusted accordingly



        (4) The visa was "used", but the officer neglected to stamp USED on it.

        This would be a somewhat trivial clerical error, unlikely to cause any problems (single-use visas normally expire three months etc after issue etc anyway), although the lack of a USED stamp could cause confusion.



        However, none of the above changes this simple fact:

        It is this landing permission, not a visa, that serves as the legal basis for the foreigner's stay in Japan.
        http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/01.html#b2
        Last edited by bland; 2009-08-09, 06:12 PM. Reason: URL update

        Comment


        • #5
          when you must choose to NOT USE the re-entry permit

          Originally posted by bland
          What this means is...
          ...
          - Just because you have a re-entry permit, doesn't mean you have to use the re-entry permit (although of course you MUST choose to use it if you want to continue your Status of Residence).
          Conversely, you must choose to NOT USE the re-entry permit (if you have one) if you require your (Status of) Residence to cease, such as in (one or more of) the following situations:

          (In some of these cases, it's not necessarily a huge problem if you've inadverently used the re-entry permit, or if your circumstances change unexpectedly after leaving, but it could result in complications)


          - You're applying for your Japanese pension lump-sum withdrawal payment, and want to ensure the application proceeds smoothly.


          - You're planning to obtain a visa and then intend to use that visa to enter Japan, starting a new Status of Residence (at a date that would otherwise be within the validity period of your re-entry permit and period of stay). For example, you might be in posession of (or expect to later receive) a Certificate of Eligibility to use to obtain a visa, or you might be intending to apply for a visa without using a Certificate of Eligibility (where that option is available).

          A visa, of course, can only be obtained at an embassy / consulate of Japan (outside Japan), and is merely a kind of "entry permit", as explained in post #1.

          A visa cannot be acquired after arriving in Japan.
          http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/01.html#b1


          - You have a MULTIPLE-entry visa (No of entries MULTIPLE), which will still be valid for when you plan to later enter Japan (check "Date of expiry DD MMM YY" on the visa label, and check that the visa label is not stamped USED or VOID, etc), and you intend to use that visa (again) to start a new stay in Japan (for the period of time indicated on the visa label under "For stay(s) of") (in particular, if you would be entering at a date that would otherwise be within the validity period of your re-entry permit and period of stay).

          For example, in this post, The Stig claims to have a student visa that expires in four years' time, is for MULTIPLE entries, and for stays of 2years.
          http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?t=31792


          - You're planning to enter Japan without a visa, (as a "tourist", etc) under a visa exemption arrangement (at a date that would otherwise be within the validity period of your re-entry permit and period of stay).

          This is one way to spend a bit more time in Japan after the period of stay for a working status of residence would have expired. For example, in this thread, darumadoll, near the end of an allowed period of stay with the Status of Residence "Specialist in Humanities / International Services", leaves Japan "for good", spends 2 nights in Korea, then comes back to Japan, entering anew (as tourist, etc) using the visa exemption arrangement, and then gets 90days to stay in Japan as "Temporary Visitor" (no work rights):
          http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...ighlight=korea

          The other way to spend a bit more time in Japan after the period of stay for a working status of residence would have expired would be to lodge an application at an Immigration Bureau office in Japan to change Status of Residence (in the above case, from "Specialist in Humanities/International Services" to "Temporary Visitor"). This costs 4000yen (and one or two trips to the Immigration Bureau office (by you or your proxy)), but obviates the need for a short trip to Korea etc.


          - You're leaving Japan "for good", (especially, perhaps, after several years), and want to ensure any liabilities (tax, etc) that may be related to your being officially "resident" in Japan are cleanly and smoothly terminated.

          (In some cases, this could be a complicated issue, way out of my depth. Also somewhat mysterious, is what happens if you re-boot your residence inadvertently, such as by forgetting to obtain a re-entry permit:
          http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...224#post497224
          )
          Last edited by bland; 2009-08-09, 06:11 PM. Reason: URL update

          Comment


          • #6
            visa = sashou

            Originally posted by bland
            Originally posted by bland
            In the Japanese system, a "visa" (or, more precisely, what is officially called a "visa") is really only an entry permit (typically, a single-use (single entry) permit).
            To be even more precise, a "visa" is even less than that.

            Officially, a visa is merely a recommendation (from the embassy / consulate of Japan (outside Japan) that issued the visa) that you should be allowed in.

            Of course, you can reasonably expect to be allowed in if you have a visa (or if you don't have a visa, and you're entering under a visa exemption arrangement) and are willing and able to abide by the relevant conditions, etc.


            The official Japanese word for "visa" is sashou 査証.

            This is a very useful word to use when referring to an actual Japanese visa. If you use the other word, biza ビザ, it can be ambiguous.

            Originally posted by bland
            ...although the official term is "status of residence", the word "visa" is used loosely (casually) by all and sundry in Japan (including by staff at the immigration office).
            In the JET Programme General Information Handbook, the Japanese word 査証 is used. In some places, perhaps to avoid confusion, I have seen this word translated into English as "entry permit" instead of "visa".
            http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/current/pubs/gih.html

            Comment


            • #7
              re: pdf creator

              Just get this program : PDF Creating v2.0


              PDF Creator: create PDF documents easily

              Download:
              http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?dtnyt5zgez1

              Comment


              • #8
                Bump! The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least 10 characters.

                Comment


                • #9
                  this info needs updating?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    updates for 9th July 2012

                    Originally posted by banwell View Post
                    this info needs updating?
                    The info is up-to-date.

                    The only change from 9th July 2012 is to replace "Certificate of Alien Registration" with "Resident Card (or Certificate of Alien Registration in the interim)", and to note that eligible residents can be "deemed" to have a "special" re-entry permit (in addition to any normal re-entry permit that they might have).

                    ...
                    You will still need to fill in the EMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT, etc, as explained here:

                    Visa system in Japan - essential prerequisites to understand
                    http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...l=1#post494237
                    (post #4 re-entry permit)

                    The only change is that the EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION CARD FOR REENTRANT will have a box you can tick to indicate you are using the new "special (deemed) re-entry permit". You will need to show your Resident Card (or Certificate of Alien Registration in the interim), and fulfill the eligibility requirements for using the new "special (deemed) re-entry permit".

                    source:
                    http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/point_3-4.html

                    Q155: みなし再入国許可制度の具体的な手続について教えてく ださい。出国の際に入国審査官にその旨告げるだけでよ いのですか。これまでの出入国手続との違いを教えてく ださい。
                    A. みなし再入国許可制度の導入に合わせて,再入国用ED カードにみなし再入国許可の意思表示欄が設けられますので 、みなし再入国許可による出国を希望する場合,同欄にチェックしていただければ,これまで の出入国手続と同じように再入国することができるよう になります。
                    http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact...e3.html#q155-a

                    http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact...point_3-4.html
                    deemed re-entry permit - only available for departures from 9th July 2012
                    http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthrea...=1#post1209718

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by newyorkhcm View Post
                      Just get this program : PDF Creating v2.0


                      PDF Creator: create PDF documents easily

                      Download:
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                      That's invalid file. Can someone reupload? Thank you

                      Comment

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