What kind of visas are there ?
- Temporary visitor or "tourist" Visa : If you arrive without visa in Japan, you'll
be issued a short-stay visa. For most Europeans it is valid for 90 days. This visa does not allow to work.
- Student Visa : If you are intending to study more than a few weeks/months in Japan,
you should ask for a student visa. There are several types (pre-college, college...), but they are generally valid for 1 year.
They are expensive as you must pay the school fee for a full year in a recognised establishment. The college visa entitle
you to work part-time (up to 20h/week). You must get a re-entry visa if you leave the country and come back, otherwise you
lose your visa. Student visa holder can only buy a single re-entry visa (3000yen), which means they have to get a new one
everytime they exit the country.
- Cultural Visa : Available to anyone who is studying something typically Japanese,
such as martial arts, ikebana or calligraphy. It allows to work part-time (up to 20h/week), is valid for 1 year and renewable.
It is interesting for people who intend to stay a long time in Japan without real intention to find a serious job.
- Working-Holiday Visa : Only a few countries have agreement with Japan regarding
this visa. Among them are the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. You must be under 30 years
old to be eligible. This visa is valid for one year and allows you to work. The difference with a working visa is that you
don't need a sponsoring company, nor to have a company ready to engage you at all. You don't need a university degree neither.
The number of application is limited per year.
- Working Visa : They are valid for 1 year. You'll need a university degree, be
over 18 years old and have a sponsoring company. You need a re-entry visa to exit and re-enter the country. Working and spouse
visa holder can buy the "multiple re-entry visa" (6000yen) valid until the end of their (working/spouse) visa.
- Spouse Visa : If you are married to a Japanese national, you are eligible for
this visa. It allows you to work and is easily renewable without any other condition. You still need a (multiple) re-entry
visa to leave the country without losing your visa.
- Investor Visa : Available to those who set up a company or branch in Japan. There are certain
conditions (e.g. employing at least 2 Japanese nationals full-time). However, it is now possible to start a company with a
capital of 1 yen.
- Permanent visa : It allows you unlimited stay in Japan and basically the same
rights as Japanese people. You'll need this visa if you want to buy a house or get a loan from the bank. It of course allows
you to work. To be eligible, you will have to stay (legally) at least 5 years in Japan, speak some Japanese (you don't need
to be perfectly fluent) and have a full-time job. It's easier to obtain if you already have a spouse visa - that is if your
husband or wife is Japanese. You might wait one year to get this visa.
Note that there are other kinds of visas, such as diplomatic, official, artistic, religious, medical, legal, researcher,
entertainer, skilled labor, etc.
For more information about Japanese visa, check the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs's website
How can I obtain a visa ?
If you arrive in Japan without visa, you will automatically be given a 90 days temporary visitor visa.
other visas should be obtained before coming to Japan. However, it is now usually possible to change a temporary visa into
a working, cultural or spouse visa, by going to an immigration office in Japan.
How can I extend my visa ?
- Temporary visitor or "tourist" Visa : British, Irish, German, Swiss, Austrian and
Mexican citizens can extend it for 3 more months. For others, it may be quite difficult to get an extension. It will be necessary
to have a good reason and show you have enough money to support yourself. Even so, you might not be granted more than a few
- Student, Cultural, Working & Spouse Visa : These visas can be easily extended
as long as you are still studying/working/married. Just go to the immigration office with a proof that you are still eligible.