Visa Renewal in Japan: Requirements, processing time & more!

Yumiko Kijima

If you’re a foreign national in Japan you might need to renew or change your visa status if your circumstances change, or you decide to stay longer than planned.

It was recently announced that The Justice Ministry was launching a Japan visa renewal online service¹. We’ll cover that right here, along with all the important information you need including the Japan visa extension processing time, eligibility and documents required.

Table of contents

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Who is eligible to extend a visa in Japan?²

Whether or not you can extend or renew your visa will depend on your original visa type, and whether your circumstances have changed at all.

In general terms, visa extensions are offered to people on mid to long term visa types, such as working or student visas. You may, for example, decide to extend your working contract and need a longer visa - or you might finish study and want to convert your student visa to allow you to move into a job in Japan.

Tourists in Japan on a temporary visitor visa are not usually granted visa extensions or renewals unless there are special circumstances.

That said, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, the UK, and Mexico have visa exemption agreements with Japan which means that you might be able to stay for more than 90 days and up to 6 months, if permitted. Check out the details for your own visa type and nationality online.

When should I renew my visa in Japan?²

If you’re a mid to long term resident of Japan, you can apply to renew or extend your visa from 3 months prior to the expiry of your existing visa. If you have applied for a visa extension or renewal prior to the end of your original visa, you’ll be granted an extension of up to 2 months or the length of time it takes to process your application, whichever is the shorter.

How to renew a visa in Japan - can I do it online?

The Justice Ministry has announced that foreign nationals will be able to renew and extend their visas online in future. However, this service is not live at the time of writing. It’s anticipated that the online system will become available during 2021, so it’s well worth checking for the latest news online before you set out to renew your visa in person.

If you do find you need to make your renewal or extension application in person, you’ll have to go to the regional immigration office which covers your area³. There’s a full list of regional immigration offices available online, which also includes the services available and opening hours.⁴

You’ll be able to apply for a visa extension or renewal for yourself - or a representative or proxy can do so on your behalf⁵. That may be someone from your work or college, or a family member for example. It’s worth knowing that the immigration authorities may require additional information, which can mean you have to attend a meeting in person even if you have a proxy lined up.

To apply for a visa renewal you’ll need to pull together a pack of required documents - we’ll cover what these are by visa type in just a moment. You can then call your local immigration office to check the opening hours and ask whether you need to make an appointment to attend. It’s common for there to be long queues at peak times, so be prepared to wait.

Required documents for visa extension in Japan⁵

There are some documents which are required for all visa extension and renewal applications. There are then some documents which may vary according to the visa type you hold or want to receive. First we’ll cover the documents required by all applicants - the specific paperwork by visa type follows.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport photo - not needed for children under the age of 16, mid to long term residents or those requesting an extension of under 3 months
  • Valid current residence card
  • Passport
  • Specific documents based on the activities undertaken in Japan and your visa type

👩‍🎓Required documents for Student visa

In addition to the list above, you’ll have to take along:

  • Certificate of enrollment and transcript from your university or institution
  • Proof you can cover expenses
  • Proof of residence for students up to age 18

💼Required documents for Working visa

If you hold a working visa, the additional documents you need will depend on the type of work you do. There’s a full breakdown available on the immigration authorities website.⁷

To give an example, if you’re in Japan as a business manager you may need:⁸

  • Proof you’re eligible for this visa category
  • Documents showing your company’s activities, such as an annual report
  • You may need to prove your tax status to confirm you have paid all relevant income taxes in Japan

👫Required documents for Spouse visa

If you’re applying to a visa as the spouse of a Japanese citizen you’ll be asked to provide the following:⁹

🏠Required documents for Long term resident visa

There are several different types of long term resident visas, which all have different requirements when it comes to renewal paperwork. The documents you need may vary depending on whether it’s your first application to extend your visa, and your employment status for example.¹º

To give an example, here are some of the additional documents you’ll need to find if you’re applying as a third generation Japanese descendant who is employed in Japan:¹¹

  • Family register for your grandparents as Japanese nationals
  • Your own residence certificate
  • Tax certificate
  • Certificate of employment
  • Guarantor form
  • Police check
  • Marriage and birth certificates for your parents and grandparents
  • Proof of Japanese proficiency - for long term stays only

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Does Covid-19 affect visa extension in Japan?

The global pandemic has meant that visa extension and renewal processes may be altered. This is particularly so in the case of foreign residents who are unable to return home due to Covid-19 related restrictions, those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic or need to change their visa status for any other reason.

The situation is evolving all the time, and so it is crucial that you check the latest information at The Justice Ministry and immigration service websites.

At the time of writing, people in Japan on a temporary visitor visa who are unable to return home may be able to extend their period of stay, and also work part time up to 28 hours a week. Students who can not repatriate may also be able to work part time for six months. Different options are available for people on specialist visas, so it’s well worth looking at the most up to date advice at Immigration Services Agency of Japan website.¹²⁺¹³

What is the processing time of visa renewal?

Typically it will take between 2 weeks and 1 month for your visa renewal or extension to be processed.⁵

Why did my visa extension get rejected?

Reasons for visa applications being rejected include:¹⁴

  • Errors or omissions in the documents supplied
  • The application being made by someone who does not qualify to act as your proxy
  • Period of your passport validity is insufficient

Making visa arrangements is often a confusing process - and never more so than during the global pandemic. Make sure you keep up to date with the most recent developments and apply in good time if you need to renew or extend your paperwork.

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  1. Nikkei Asia: Japan to allow foreign residents to change or renew visa online
  2. Jetro: Extension of period of stay and change of status of residence
  3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: Validity of a Visa
  4. ISA: Regional Immigration Services Bureaus
  5. ISA: Application for extension of period of stay
  6. ISA: Student - Documents to be submitted
  7. ISA: Materials to be submitted according to status of residence (application for extension of period of stay)
  8. ISA: Business Manager - Documents to be submitted
  9. ISA: Application for extension of period of stay (spouse of a Japanese national)
  10. ISA: Renewing a "Long-Term Resident" status of residence (eg, third-generation Japanese descendant)
  11. ISA: Application for extension of period of stay (biological or adopted child of a Japanese national)
  12. ISA: Handling of foreign nationals who have difficulty returning to their home country or other country
  13. ISA: Information related to COVID-19
  14. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: Visa - Frequently Asked Questions

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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