Visas in Japan: Gov’t to change foreigner registration, visa system

March 19th, 2012By Category: Uncategorized

On July 9, a new system of residence management will be implemented that combines the information collected via the Immigration Control Act and the Alien Registration Law respectively. Foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for a medium to long term are subject to this new system.

 The government started accepting applications for new residence registration cards on Jan 13, which will then be issued after July 9. To apply for the new card, you are required to appear in person at the nearest regional immigration bureau.

The Ministry of Justice says the new system ensures further convenience for such persons by extending the maximum period of stay from 3 years to 5 years. In addition, a system of “presumed permit of re-entry,” which essentially exempts the need to file an application for permission for re-entry when re-entering Japan within one year of departure, will be implemented.

Upon introduction of the new system of residence management, the current alien registration system shall become defunct. Medium- to long-term residents will get a new residence card which they will be required to always carry with them. Children under the age of 16 are exempt from the obligation to always carry the residence card.

Foreign nationals residing legally for a medium to long term with a status of residence under the Immigration Control Act, EXCLUDING the persons described below, shall be subject to the new system of residence management:

  1. Persons granted permission to stay for not more than 3 months
  2. Persons granted the status of residence of “Temporary Visitor”
  3. Persons granted the status of residence of “Diplomat” or “Official”
  4. Persons whom a Ministry of Justice ordinance recognizes as equivalent to the aforementioned foreign nationals
  5. Special permanent residents (for example, of Korean descent)
  6. Persons with no status of residence

Permanent residents, meanwhile, will have to apply for a new residence card within three years from July 2012.

What is the residence card?

The residence card will be issued to applicable persons in addition to landing permission, permission for change of status of residence, and permission for extension of the residence period, etc. The card is equipped with an IC chip to prevent forgery and alteration, and the chip records all or part of the information included on the card. Fingerprint information will not be recorded in the chip.
The card will contain a portrait photo of the individual and the following information:

  1. Legal items given
  2. Name in full, date of birth, sex,  nationality
  3. Place of residence in Japan
  4. Status of residence, period of stay, date of expiration
  5. Type of permission, date of permission
  6. Number of the residence card, date of issue, date of expiration
  7. Existence or absence of working permit
  8. Existence of permission to engage in an activity other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted

New visa and re-entry system

(1) Extension of the maximum period of stay

The status of residence with a period of stay of 3 years under the present system, will be extended to 5 years. As for the status of residence of “College Student,” the maximum period of stay will be extended to “4 years and 3 months” from the current “2 years and 3 months” starting from July 1, 2009.

(2) Revision of the Re-entry System

A foreign national with a valid passport and a residence card will be basically exempt from applying for a re-entry permit in cases where he/she re-enters Japan within one year from his/her departure. In cases where a foreign resident already possesses a re-entry permit, the maximum term of validity for the re-entry permit shall be extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Conditions of Revocation of Status of Residence

Implementation of the new system of residence management includes establishment of the following provisions concerning the conditions of revocation of status of residence and deportation, and penal provisions:

  1. The foreign national has received, by deceit or other wrongful means, special permission to stay
  2. Failing to continue to engage in activities as a spouse while residing in Japan for more than 6 months (except for cases where the foreign national has justifiable reason for not engaging in the activities while residing in Japan
  3. Failing to register the place of residence within 90 days after newly entering or leaving a former place of residence in Japan (except for cases with justifiable reason for not registering the place of residence), or registering a false place of residence
  4. Forgery or alteration of a residence card
  5. Being sentenced to imprisonment or a heavier punishment for submitting a false notification required of medium to long term residents, or violating the rules concerning receipt or mandatory presentation of the residence card

For further information, visit or call the Immigration Information Center at 0570-013904 (weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.)

Photos taken at Shinagawa Immigration Office by Masa Yagishita

Author of this article


GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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  • Question Here

    Confused a little. If I have a 3 year Engineer working visa does that mean my visa will be changed to a 5 year working visa or just my resident card expiration date will be extended?

  • Anonymous



  •  If I marry my girlfriend in Japan who is Japanese then I’d obviously get a dependent visa.  1) Will she loose her family health insurance? If so, what kind of monthly costs are her and I looking at  for the mandatory “national health insurance” in Japan?

    2) Is their a financial obligation or proof of a particular “minimum income” that she would be held to in order for us to complete our marriage? The word “dependent” sort of made me consider this.

  • Also, perhaps I need to be refereed to another article but I heard about people who arrive on student visas and end up staying as teachers for the duration of their Visa despite dropping or finishing their class. How would this work out? would it be that they negotiated enough work to change their visa status to  something like “self-sponsored” or “working”? I am wondering if it is more likely that these people just dropped out of the school they were enrolled in and no one cares to enforce “immediate deportation” because the school already got it’s money? Finally, I want to know if there is any consequence for missing a lot of school( other then not learning,wasting money and potentially not passing your exam)? I’m more wondering if it affects future visa requests or instigates legal matters?

  • Dejan

     I am not sure about family insurance but yes, she needs “minimum income” and she also need someone from her family as a guarantee in case she loses her job.
    At least it was like that 6 years ago if I remember correctly.

  • Terry Tsai

    I have a question – I have my permanent residency last fall, and I currently have an expiring Gaijin Card. What should I do ?

  • It is possible (maybe not OK) to work as a freelancer or non registered employed person. Actually once you have your visa no one cares about you that much… Don’t commit any crime and it is all right… though I would never recommend to go out of law here in Japan. Do your things, teach some classes and get marry and get a permanent visa as soon as you can. This is my advice!!!!

  • i am confused about my visa. i was divorced with my ex-husband about a year ago.. and now i just have a 1year visa. how about this? what should i going to do?please.. help

  • richex

    @ Terry Tsai…….I suggest u to go the city office to renew your Alien card, the new system starts from July 9th, I have a question though? how did you get your permanent residency, work or Marriage , if its Marriage how long did it took…all in all including the application period?

    @ chang, do you have a kid with your ex-husband? if yes then you have no problem about renewing your visa but if no, i suggest u find a job that can sponsor your visa or you re-marry another japanese or permanent resident.

  • Rachael Greenfield

    I am  US citizen with children who both have dual US/Japanese citizenship. My son’s biological father is most likely dying of cancer. I’d like to take the kids to Japan for an extended visit, but I’ll need to work. Can I get a Visa to work if my children have Japanese citizenship? I’m looking for a 3-6 month way to legally work and live in Japan. I do have an MA and have lived and worked in Japan before.

  • Gregorio del Pilar

    The new system will take effect on July 9, 2012.

    Question: If I leave Japan on July 6 and come back on August 6, will I still be required to get a re-entry permit?

  • Ma.Ana Orfa M. Zaldivar

    i work for 4 years in ibaraki liberty foods as a long term residence,my visa expire,i renew the .
    emmegration ask me my husband to come to japan to renew me,hi cant go back because he had stroke while working in japan,he stays here now,i went home before the expire,i dont have job here of my age and diffecult leving,my husband and i separated now,i have one child to support,please with all your heart,what i well do for me to have visa,it is possible for me to go back japan even its guarantor letter,kindly help me.Thank you for your kind consideration.

  • aika

    how can you obtain a working visa? is it only for those who wanted to do full time job? does part time job applicable to apply? hope somebody could help.thank you.

  • thomp

    I can get what visa if i borN child with japanese women who have two child from her husband

  • Guest

    Hi! I’m 14 and a half japanese. My mom wants to stay here in Japan but I don’t. We’ve only been a year and a half here in Japan. I am the one who gives my mom a visa. And they say that if I go back to my country (which is Philippines) my mom won’t be able to renew her visa this coming September. Is there any other way my mom can have visa without me staying here? Btw, she’s a teacher in Philippines. Is there any way she can apply as a teacher here? She knows little Japanese, but good in English. I really really really need your help. I’m so depress and want to study in Philippines. Please help 🙁 Thank you in advance.

  • emily kondo

    my husband dont have a address anymore in japan i mean gen jushio


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