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

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)


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 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

About the Author

  • Nanami says:

    someday.. I hope I will need this info xD

  • Thank you for this, I used it! One thing to add if you can… if you are drafting the paperwork (specifically the application) yourself, there is a portion only the company who is hiring you can fill out. You need to send it or bring it to them, have it filled out and stamped, and then take it to immigration. I tried to submit the paperwork to immigration today, but because I didn’t have that page filled out and stamped by the company (even though my new company had given me all the other necessary paperwork), I couldn’t do it.

  • funkthefame says:

    This was an awesome article. I just watched your youtube video related to this post, and you’re right everyone irks when they hear ‘visa’. I felt alot better after reading and watching your stuff — now I just need to call up immigration to find out about meeting the engineering requirements visa!

  • lopka says:

    I suppose the tricky part is knowing if you actually need to change visa status, and also you have to quit before changing jobs not knowing if you get the visa, right?^^;;
    In the end you’re supposed to stay 1, 2 months unemployed?

  • Passy says:

    Just submitted mine today and because I didn’t know about those details, I was sweating wondering if I would get the status change approved or not. I feel good right now after reading your very details. Thanks mate

  • Maandy says:


    Great post, thanks! Few questions:

    1) is the 保険証 really required? I am here for a year (cultural activities visa, “unpaid” internship), got an insurance abroad for this time and did get the 保険証. Guess I will need it anyway now but it probably will take time?

    2) did you have to show them your university diploma? I read on their website that it is necessary and I am wondering if a photocopy will do…

    Well all the best, anyway!

  • Alia says:

    Hey Donald! Very informative post.

    I have a question though since I have a really different situation. I’m not in Japan yet but I will be in a few weeks on a Tourist Visa from Egypt. I’ve already found a job with a school there except they won’t give me a contract until they’ve interviewed me in person. My question was, if I’m in Japan on a tourist visa can I change it to a working visa without flying back to my home country?

    Thank you! 😀

    • Donald Ash says:

      I’ve heard of people doing that.
      I honestly don’t know how common it is, because I’ve never actually met anyone who’s done it.
      It’s a question I want to research a bit more, though.

  • Aaron says:

    In fact, under this new system, the Residence Card will show your
    Status of Residence and period of stay, items that were included in the
    visa stamp in your passport. The only time any of this information will
    be entered in your passport is on your initial entry to Japan. On
    renewing a visa, the information will only be entered on your Residence
    Card. Each time you renew your “visa (status of residence)” you will be
    issued with a new Residence Card.

    *It is going to be quite important, therefore, that you always have
    your Residence Card with you when you are traveling in and out of Japan.
    Your visa status can be verified only if you have your Residence Card
    with you.*

    The Visa change therefor doesnt show up in your passport anymore?

  • Marcel says:

    Great post!

    I am about to apply for change of status of residence this week.
    How about documents such as diplomas or CVs?

    Thank you

  • Candeh says:

    I applied on the 12th of this month and they said it would take about 3 weeks to process. I hate waiting… -.- What about other people? How long did you have to wait for yours? Donnie, you were lucky to get it in 2 weeks!

    For people who are looking to renew, this is what I had in terms of documents. I’m changing from student to work visa (humanities):

    1) Application form filled in by me and my company and stamped by company
    2) Copy of my contract
    3) Photo that was taken in the last 3 months (had to retake mine because they were being fussy)
    4) Passport + residence card
    5) Copy of my company’s financials

    And that’s all, didn’t need anything else! Hope I get it soon…So impatient!

  • Kevo says:

    Very thorough! Thank you!!

  • Priscilla says:

    Is it also possible to change a Tourist visa to a working visa like this?
    I am supposed to leave in a week but my company couldn’t get the eligibility form in time so I was wondering if I could apply for the visa or change status while in Japan.

    Kind regards

    • thejapanguy says:

      That’s a tough one, Priscilla. Sorry to hear you’re having to go through that visa rush. I know it can be a hassle. I have a buddy going through something similar right now.

      I’m sure it’s been done. I’ve never actually had to do it myself, but I really think it’s on the company with this one.

      If the sponsoring company takes care of all of the backend stuff (paperwork, etc.) I don’t see why there’d be any issues with changing from a tourist to a working here in Japan.

      BUT I don’t know every country’s policy on working/working holiday visas. Would it be possible that some countries make you return to file a working visa. I wish I knew.

      I know some teaching companies require their teachers to do the initial visa paperwork in their home countries (at least for their first visa).

      A week might be a bit too tight to get a status change done. I’m sorry I couldn’t be or more assistance to you. I really hope it all works out, Priscilla.

  • Ellen says:

    Hi Donnie,
    Thanks for the help!
    I have a question. My boyfriend has just quit his eikaiwa job and has a working visa and a residence card. He’s got a few prespective jobs but they won’t begin for another two months. What should he do about his visa and residence card? He’ll be staying with me, so does he need to notify immigration of the address change and being unemployed? What do you suggest?

  • Wolf Osaka says:

    Thank you so much. Although it’s a few years old post. The information here in regards to changing the visa status is very helpful. Cheers

  • Anna Gelbach says:

    I have a question. I applied for my work visa (having all the necessary paperwork) but had to leave Japan before my application was completed. At customs in the airport I was forced to sign paperwork that cancelled my work visa application. What steps are necessary to remedy this situation? Can I even return to Japan?

  • Jess says:

    How about the reverse? I want to change my visa from WORKING to TOURIST so I can stay in the country just a little longer past the end of the visa cut off.

    • Mishra SK says:

      I am in similar situations. Do let me know if you find a workaround? However, I also want to visit and neighbouring countries and coming back to Japan before leaving finally.

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