(There is a brief video included at the bottom of this post)
Did I tell you that I got my visa renewed? Well I am pleased to report that on November 8th, 2010, I received an extension for my Japan, work visa. This means that, if I choose, I can stay in Japan until January 11, 2014. Check it out:
Essentially a visa is the permission or endorsement from a country to allow an individual to stay in that country for a specified period of time. There are many different types of visas and the one you get really depends on what you’ll be doing while you’re in a given country. There are several major visa classifications and with each respective classification there can be sub-classifications. Although I don’t know them all, here are some examples of the different kinds of visas:
For people coming to Japan for sightseeing, tourism, and things of that nature.
For politicians and foreign officials.
Which can include subcategories: College Student, Cultural Activities, Dependent, etc.
This is the category my visa falls under. This is also the visa with the most subcategories in Japan, some of which include (but are not limited to) Engineer, Entertainers (if you’re lucky enough to become a model or actor, you could get sponsorship), Skilled Labor, Specialist in Humanities/International Services (my visa), Instructor (usually for public school), investor/business manager, etc.
For individuals involved in official business for a foreign government
This visa is for the spouse or child of a Japanese national. So if you were to marry a Japanese person this is a potential Visa classification you could have.
At the Japan Immigration office, it’s formally called the “Application for Extension of Period of Stay.” As that’s quite a mouthful to say, we’ll stick with The “visa renewal” or “visa extension” process when we refer to it. Anyhow, the follows only five basic steps to get your Japan visa renewed:
1) Go to your local Immigration Bureau, or the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa if it’s more convenient.
2) Submit your visa renewal application- This office has all of the paperwork you can stomach. But for visa renewals and re-entries permits, I haven’t had to fill out any more than a single page of information.
3) Obtain your renewal notification postcard- After submitting your application, you’ll fill out a postcard which will be mailed to you 2-4 weeks later. Or a notification will be stapled in your passport notifying you of when to come back to finish the renewal.
4) Go back to the Immigration Bureau with your renewal update postcard, passport, and proper identification.
5) Obtain your passport renewal stamp…YAY!!
Renewing the visa really wasn’t so expensive. It cost me about 2600 yen for the ride to Shinagawa and the visa itself only required ￥4000 in revenue stamps. I work for a company that paid for both transportation to and from Shinagawa and for the revenue stamps.
When I came to Japan, the first thing I did was to apply for my Alien Registration Card at Tsukuba’s City Hall. Because I am officially registered in Ibaraki, I am able to go to one of two places for renewal:
The Immigration Office in Mito (capital of Ibaraki). The phone number is 029-300-3601.
The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa (Here’s the Phone Number if you need it: 03-5796-7111). I think everyone has the option of going to this office. For me, it was much cheaper to go here:
For you, whichever prefecture you registered in should have an Immigration Bureau in a pretty central location. If it’s a bit far from you (as it is in my case), you may want to find out if you can go to another bureau for your renewal.
In my case I needed to bring the following five things:
1. Company documentation: This was official info about company earnings, my personal income statement, etc. I didn’t have to do anything, it was given to me before I went.
2. Your Passport
3. Your Alien Registration Card (ARC)
4. Your Health Insurance Card-Proof of enrollment in Japan’s social insurance system.
5. Revenue Stamps- I need ￥4000 worth, which my company provided for me. But 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.
I don’t know about all visas, but I think certain things will be standard. Your passport, alien card, and health insurance cards 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.
The Immigration Bureaus that I have been to have been open from 9:00am to 12:00pm and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. I recommend just going early and getting it out of the way, there were some pretty big lines at the Shinagawa Office. Mito wasn’t so crowded, though.
After my initial visit to the Immigration Bureau to submit my renewal paperwork, it took exactly two weeks to receive notification that the visa process was complete. However, it can take up to one month for a visa renewal to process. I can only speak from an American English teacher’s perspective, though. I would imagine that the processing times, and the application process itself will vary from visa to visa and individual to individual.
If you work for a decent company, your renewal process should go pretty smoothly. Should you run into complications, take a deep breath, and keep in mind that most likely, there’s another foreigner who’s been through the exact same thing and made it through just fine. You’ll be okay, just stay informed.
Thanks for reading,