(Updated 10 April 2023)
What’s a “visa”?
A “visa” is the legal authorization granted to you by a country to enter, remain in, or leave the country. When you enter Japan, a Landing Permit is stamped in your passport after reviewing the validity of your visa. The Landing Permit contains your Status of Residence and initial Period of Stay until you obtain your residence card. 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 Bureau. Similarly, if your Period of Stay is about to expire, you need to apply for an extension at the Immigration Bureau. We often use phrases like “change my visa” or “extend my visa”, but what we are really referring to is a change in our Status of Residence or an extension of our Period of Stay.
Please take a look at the simplified guide that has been organized to give you an idea on how to change or extend your visa:
If you are a prefectural SHS ALT, please take a look at the following materials on how to fill out the application. The generic information is applicable for any applicant, ALT or CIR, so if you have any confusions, feel free to take a look at the materials as a reference.
- Extension of Period of Stay Application for Prefectural SHS ALTs (Guide)
- Extension of Period of Stay Application for Prefectural SHS ALTs (Sample)
- Additional Attachment for Workplace (Template)
More Useful Information
There is a ￥4000 fee associated with a request to extend the Period of Stay or change the Status of Residence. This cost is paid by the JET participant. You will be given instruction on how to pay this when you visit the Immigration Bureau.
- Special Leave (特休, tokkyu) or Paid Leave (年休, nenkyu)?
This decision is up to your CO. In the case where a JET is applying to extend their Period of Stay in order to reappoint, the CO will typically allow the JET to use special leave. However, the travel costs to and from the Immigration Bureau will most likely be paid by the JET, regardless of whether the JET is granted special leave or has to request paid 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 (転出届, tenshutsu todoke) to the municipality you are leaving, and a moving-in notification (転入届, tenyuu todoke) to the municipality you are entering within 14 days of your moving date.
- Talk with 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 or information from your CO, 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 assisted 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 your Residence 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 may 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.
- Don’t forget to apply to extend your My Number status
My Number is the Japanese equivalent of a “Social Security and Tax Number System” and is issued to all registered Japanese residents, including you. Unless you’ve applied for the hardcopy card (My Number card), you should have a greenish paper card with a bunny on it (My Number notification). Your My Number card expires the same your your Residence Card and visa is set to expire. When you extend your visa, your My Number card is not automatically renewed and you must apply for the extension separately. You can apply for the extension at your local municipal office’s Personal Identification Number Counter (個人番号 窓口, koujin bangou madoguchi).
If you are applying for your My Number card for the first time, it may take a month’s time to process your application, and then you must go receive your card in person wherever you designated to pick it up in your application once you receive the postcard to do so in the mail. If you are extending the validity of your My Number card, it can be completed on the same day of your visit to the local municipal office.
Transferring Your Visa to a New Passport
Q: I have a new passport because my old passport expired. Do I have to visit the Immigration Bureau 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 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, shouin tenkigan).