What’s a “visa”?

A “visa” is what you use to enter the country.  When you enter Japan, a Landing Permit is stamped in your passport and your visa is used. The Landing Permit contains your Status of Residence and Period of Stay.  The Status of Residence dictates what you are in Japan to do (e.g. tourism, education, specialist in humanities).  The Period of Stay tells you how long you are able to do it.  If you want to do something not permitted under your current Status of Residence, you must apply for permission at the Immigration Office.  Similarly, if your Period of Stay is about to expire, you need to apply for an extension at the Immigration Office.  We often use phrases like “change my visa” or “extend my visa”, but technically our visas are already used; what we are really referring to is a change in our Status of Residence or an extension of our Period of Stay.

Status of Residence (在留の資格) & Period of Stay (滞在期限)

The standard JET-issued Period of Stay is for three years, and will likely expire on, or the day after, the date your appointment terminates.  If you plan on staying in Japan after your original Period of Stay expires -whether it be for a short vacation before returning to your home country or for a fourth year on JET -you will have to visit the Immigration Office and either change your Status of Residence or renew your Period of Stay.

You will need to enlist the help of your Contracting Organization tantosha in order to submit the required documents.  Also, make sure to call (or have your tantosha call) the Immigration Office beforehand to make sure you have all of the required documents.  A list of these documents is below.  Please be aware that the Immigration Office, not the Prefectural Office or PAs, is the authority on immigration matters and that they may require additional documents in order to process any changes to your Status of Residence or extend your Period of Stay.

First and Second-Year JETs – 1st and 2nd year JETs with a valid 3-year Period of Stay can generally remain in Japan for short-term sightseeing or packing without having to change Status of Residence, provided that you DO NOT work.  For people who wish to work, please see the section below entitled Working After JET? Extending your Period of Stay with a 3rd Party.

Third-Year JETs – The standard JET Period of Stay is valid for 3 years, so your Period of Stay will likely expire on, or within days of the end of your term of appointment.  If your Period of Stay will expire before your term of appointment ends for some reason, you must extend it in order to fulfill the term.  If your Period of Stay expires on or a few days after your term of appointment ends, and you want to have extra time to pack, say farewell, travel, etc. you will need to apply for a 90-day “temporary visitor” visa.  DO NOT risk letting your Period of Stay expire, even for one day.  Immigration will check your Period of Stay before you leave, and you don’t want to be arrested and subsequently banned from visiting Japan again.

Extending your Period of Stay with JET

Taken from the 2020 Information Packet for Non-Reappointing JETs:

Link to Application form here.

You will need to have your tantosha assist you in obtaining the Tax Certificate, Proof of Tax Payment, and other necessary documents related to your employment.

Changing Your Resident Status to “Temporary Visitor” (短期滞在ビザ)

Taken from the 2020 Information Packet for Non-Reappointing JETs:

Working After JET?  Extending your Period of Stay with a 3rd-Party

Taken from the 2020 Information Packet for Non-Reappointing JETs:

Embarkation Card for Reentrant

Taken from the 2020 Information Packet for Non-Reappointing JETs:

More Useful Information

  • Fees. There is a ¥4000 fee associated with a request to extend the Period of Stay or change the Status of Residence. This cost is born by the JET participant. You will be given instruction on how to pay this when you visit the Immigration Bureau.
  • Special leave (tokkyuu 特休) or Nenkyuu? This decision is up to your Contracting Organization. In the case where a JET is applying to extend their Period of Stay in order to reappoint, the BOE will often allow the JET to use special leave (tokkyuu特休). However, the travel costs to and from the Bureau will most likely be paid by the JET, regardless of whether the JET used nenkyuu or special leave.
  • Do I have to report changes in my Period of Stay or Status of Residence to my local city/town/village office? No. Starting from July 9, 2012 those who extend their Period of Stay or change their Status of Residence do NOT have to report those changes to their local city/town/village office. Excepting changes to your address, any changes to the information on your Resident Card should be reported to the Immigration Bureau. Changes to address of residence should be reported to your local city/town/village offices by submitting a moving-out notification (tenshutsu todoke 転出届) to the municipality you are leaving, and a moving-in notification (tennyuu todoke 転入届) to the municipality you are entering within 14 days of your moving date.
  • Talk to your Tantosha. No matter what change or extension you make, you will need to enlist the help of your tantosha (or a representative of your new employer in the case of the JET beginning work with a third party) to request documents from your Contracting Organization, or to confirm with the Immigration Bureau that you have all the correct and necessary documents ready before you begin the application. If your tantosha has never aided a JET with these procedures, or they seem unclear of some step of the process, please have them contact the PAs.
  • Where can I find my Period of Stay? It’s written on both your Landing Permit (in your passport) and on your Resident Card (or Alien Registration Card).
  • Please, DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PERIOD OF STAY TO EXPIRE. If you allow your Period of Stay to expire and try to leave the country, immigration will detain and interrogate you at the airport. You will probably be fined and deported. If you miss your flight, you will be responsible for paying for a new ticket home. Also, you may be indefinitely banned from returning to Japan.

Directions to the Immigration Office in Kumamoto City

Address: Kumamoto-shi, Ooe 3-1-53, 1st Floor of the Daini Goudou Chousha (第2合同庁舎) Building
Google Maps pin

TEL: 096 362 1721

Monday – Friday from 9:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 16:00

Here are the directions to the Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau Kumamoto Branch Office (福岡出入国在留管理局 熊本出張所; Fukuoka shutsunyūkoku zairyū kanrikyoku Kumamoto shucchōjo) where all the fun takes place. Keep in mind that if you are lost, few Japanese people will know where this office is, as they have likely never visited it before. If you get lost call the PAs or ask someone where the Daini Goudou Chousha building is.

This is what the building looks like (courtesy of Google Maps):

BY TRAM or BUS (from downtown): Get on the tram or bus in downtown Kumamoto heading for 健軍 Kengun (buses bound for 県庁 Kenchou or 水前寺公園 Suizenji Parkwill also work). You ride through 通町筋 Torichousuji (Parco Ball) and 水道町 Suidouchou and over the river away from the castle.  Get off at the first stop across the bridge – 九品寺交差点 Kuhonji Kousaten on the busline and the tramline.

Once you get off the tram or bus, you will notice a major intersection in front of you. From the bus stop, walk toward the intersection and turn left. From the tram stop, go to the right from the pedestrian overpass.

After turning off of Densha Douri (tram road), the first landmark you will see is an outdoor store called シェルパ Mont Bell on your left. This tells you that you are going the right way. Keep walking past a fire station and school (on right).

After the fire station, walk a few more blocks to the next large intersection. Here the road opens up and veers off to the right. There is a tiny park. At this intersection, turn right and start up the slight hill. The immigration office is on the 1st floor of the large white building on your right. This building is called the Daini Goudou Chousha 第2合同庁舎. The main entrance is off of the parking lot.

It should be about a 15-20 minute walk from the tram or bus stop to the immigration office.

DRIVING (from downtown): On Densha Douri (streetcar line), drive away from the castle. After passing the Parco on your right and crossing the bridge over the river, turn LEFT at the first large intersection (there is a small stoplight immediately across the bridge, but you want the bigger intersection with the pedestrian walkway and signs for the Kyushu Expressway/Kumamoto IC). Continue straight past the fire station and school (on right). Get in the right turn lane and turn right at the next large intersection (with signs for the Prefectural Theater). After you make the right turn and start up the small hill, immediately signal and turn into the parking lot of the large white building on your right. This building is called the Daini Goudou Chousha 第2合同庁舎. The immigration office is on the 1st floor of this building.

Transferring Visas to a new passport

Q: I have a new passport because my old passport expired. Do I have to visit the Immigration Office to transfer my visa?

A: It is not necessary because you have your residence card. The initial work visa put in your passport in order for you to enter Japan was just for that — to enter Japan. However, after receiving your residence card, this acts as your work visa. Your residence card is how Japan’s immigration officers keep track of your visa/residence/immigration status. When traveling outside Japan, remember to bring both your residence card and valid passport.

If you no longer have a residence card because you are no longer a resident of Japan, you should have your visa transferred to your new passport. You can do this by taking both your old and new passports to the immigration bureau and filling out a Petition for Transfer of Endorsement form (証印転記願 しょういんてんきがん).