How To Change Your Japan Visa Status

By Donnie | Articles


A little while back my friend Regina sent me an email because she had questions about visa status changes. Honestly I couldn’t remember the exact procedures that I followed. Not right off the bat, anyway. The search for info was on…

I scrounged around my apartment and was able to dig up everything that I did in order to successfully change my visa status from a Humanities Visa to an Instructor’s Visa (not to be confused with a Professor’s Visa). I looked back at the article titled the “Status Change Postcard.” Within that article I mentioned that I would write another post about how to do a Japan visa status change. Today I’m keeping my word. Let’s look at exactly what needs to be done to successfully change your Japan Visa Status.

Japan Visa Status Change Basic Steps

Let’s just do an overview of the main things that need to be done when your changing your Japanese visa status.

1) Go to your local Immigration Bureau, or to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa, if it’s more convenient.

2) Submit your change of status application and documentation- All of the paper work I needed was drafted by the company I was teaching for. But if you’re having to take care of the paperwork yourself, you may want to get the paper work in advance. You can find copies of all visa forms at http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/kanri/shyorui/02-format.html

Just keep in mind the actual name of the form is a bit longer. The official name of the document is the “Application for Change of Status of Residence.” (yeah, slightly unwieldy, I know).

3) Obtain your change of status of residence postcard- After submitting your application, you’ll fill out a postcard which will be mailed to you two to four weeks later.

4) Go back to the Immigration Bureau with your change of status postcard, passport, and proper identification.

5) Get your canceled stamp on your old visa sticker

6) Obtain your updated visa status sticker…WHOOPEE!!

How Much Does a Visa Status Change Cost in Japan?

It costs ¥4000.

What Do I Need to Bring?

In my case I needed to bring the following six things:

1. Company documentation– In this case I needed the paperwork that the company provided for me (this included work history, and a copy of my new working contract)

2. Your Passport

3. Your Alien Registration Card (ARC)

4. Your Health Insurance Card/Proof of enrollment in Japan’s social insurance system– It’s always good to have this, but because of my jobs working hours, my insurance is covered using a private insurance company. So I didn’t have to have my hokensho (保険証) to get my status change.

5. Revenue Stamps– I needed ¥4000 worth. Unfortunately the new company didn’t cover this one 🙁 . Anyway, you can get revenue stamps from any Japanese convenience store. You just have to know what to ask for. In Japanese, Shunyuinshi (しゅうにゅういんし or 収入印紙) means revenue stamp. At the Shinigawa office there’s actually a Family Mart inside of the Bureau.

6. Letter of Release (Taishoku-Shomei-sho (たいしょくしょうめいしょ or 退職証明書))– This is probably the trickiest part of the status change process. However, I didn’t have any problems with it because my former employer, AEON, is so professional.
The Letter of Release is a document from your previous employer saying the dates that you worked for the company, which branch, how much you were making, with the company’s official stamp. When I left AEON, they actually gave me a letter about everything I needed to know (even info about how to request a letter of recommendation!). I gave AEON my new address, and they sent me my letter of release. This is what it looks like:

Every time I look at this letter of release, I'm reminded of that ¥50,000 per month pay cut...ouch!.

Where Can I Go to Get My Japanese Visa Status Changed?

Very similar to the Visa Renewal, because I did my Alien Registration here in Ibaraki, I can either go to the Immigration Bureau in Mito (Ibaraki’s capital) or I can go to the Shinagawa Immigration Bureau. I believe going to Shinagawa office is an option for everyone living in East Japan.

Japanese Immigration Bureau Info:

The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa (Here’s the Phone Number: 03-5796-7111). This bureau was a little cheaper for me to go to, but your situation may be different, depending on the prefecture you live in:

Tokyo Regional Immigration Burea Map (Shinagawa)

or

For those people living in Ibaraki,

The phone number for the Immigration Office in Mito is 029-300-3601.

Mito Immigration Bureau Map

Whichever prefecture you received your Alien Registration Card in should have an Immigration Bureau in a pretty central location. If it’s a bit far from you (as it is for me), you may want to find out if you can go to a closer bureau for your renewal.

There are many different types of visa status changes, but certain things will be standard from visa to visa: your passport, alien registration card, and health insurance cards (if you have one) will be a given. The biggest difference lies in the company paperwork that you’ll have to submit. If you are unsure of what to bring, it may be wise to take someone from your company with you. This will keep you from having to make unnecessary trips. Revenue stamps are optional as you can buy them once you get there.

What Times Can I go to the Japan Immigration Bureau?

The Immigration Bureaus that I have been to have been open from 9:00am to 12:00pm and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Going early is the best bet, especially if you’re going to the Shinagawa office which is a major immigration bureau hub. The last time I went was the one time where the wait times lasted over an hour (it’s generally not like that, though).

How Long Does the Visa Status Change Process Take to Complete?

It’s been a while since I’ve done my last update, but I think I got my status change post card in about two weeks.

What’s the Japan Immigration Bureau Website?

The main, English website is http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/ it’s really very informative should you need additional assistance.

If you’re working for a decent company, your renewal process should go pretty smoothly. Should you run into complications, be patient and don’t sweat it. Just find out exactly what it is they need from you, and just give it to them. It’s as simple as that.

Good luck on your visa status changes, everybody!

Donald Ash

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