This may be a little late, but I still think it will be very useful info for some of you. I have gotten quite a few emails asking about the new Japanese residency management system for foreigners along with the Alien Registration Cards (ARCs). A fellow teacher of mine recently did a visa renewal and in the process got a new visa sticker in his passport along with a brand, spanking new card. As of July 9th, 2012, Japan has new residence cards and a new residency management system.
I am not up for a visa renewal until April of 2014, but I still was incredibly curious about Japan’s new system. I was supposed to be having a late lunch in Tokyo yesterday, so I decided to just make a day of it. I went to the Shinagawa Immigration Office and decided to find out as much as I could about the new system. I came out of with a new resident card and load of useful information. Now it’s time to share.
There are four major changes for foreigners to be aware with Japan’s new residency management system: 1) “Residence cards” will replace “Alien Registration Cards,” 2) the re-entry permit system has changed, 3) the maximum length of time for a Japanese work visa has been extended, and 4)the alien registration system is no more.
1. Resident Cards will Replace Alien Registration Cards
I know, a card is a card, right? Well sort of. The new cards issued by the MOJ (Ministry of Justice) are known as resident cards and Japanese officials will be looking at these (along with your passports of course) to clear your entry into and exit out of Japan. The cards themselves aren’t all that different in terms of the information they have on them. They still have all of the basics. Name, date of birth, address, nationality, status, and period of stay. The only real differences I can see are the color, layout, more space for the MOJ to enter information on the back, and an resident card number (as opposed to an alien registration card number). I will tell you step by step how to get one of these in a post later this week.
2. The Re-entry Permit System Has Changed
This area was a little gray to me, because I still saw loads of reentry permit application forms at the office. Even in the info booklet that I picked up, they still mention them. I asked to different clerks at the immigration office, and I was told that even though I had an old card (well not anymore) I wouldn’t be required to get another reentry permit. I didn’t know if they meant I didn’t need one because the one I have in my passport is valid until 2014 or if they meant foreigners don’t need them period.
After reading over the booklet, though. I think I understand. Under the new system, if you’re in another country for less than one year, you can reenter Japan without having to have a reentry permit. I’m assuming that those who will be out of Japan for longer periods of time, or who have special registration circumstances have to get a “special re-entry permit.”
3. The Maximum Length Of Stay For A Work Visa Has Been Extended
Instead of three years being the maximum length of time a person can stay on a work visa, it is now a whopping five years! I actually think that’s quite a cool change, especially for those who really want to stay long-term. This applies to those people who are being sponsored by companies to work in Japan (i.e., AEON, Interac, ECC, etc.), those who have the “Engineer” visa status, the “Instructor,” or the “Humanities/International Services” statuses. So now you have a 5-year, 3-year, 1-year, and 3 month period of stay (the 3-month one is new, too).
4. The Alien Registration System is No More
When I came to Tsukuba, I remember one of the first things I did was to do Alien Registration (cue the Twilight Zone music). I filled out paperwork and was given this piece of paper to use as proof that I had done registration. This certificate of alien registration was how I was able to sign up at my local internet cafe (I wasn’t able to get a phone with it, though). Eventually you got your ARC, and you didn’t really need the alien registration certificate any longer. But now instead of the ARC, you’ll get a resident card instead. I don’t know if this means the process will move faster for foreigners living in Japan, but I hope so. One of the things I didn’t like was being phone-less until my card came.
If you want to see the same booklet that I picked up at the Shinagawa Immigration Office with all of this info, in detail, please click this link below, download it, and know all the details. I think this is a SUPER important PDF if you’re a foreigner living in Japan:
Until next time, everybody!