Long lines at Japanese immigration, confusion about the Japan visa renewal process, fees for Japanese visa extension, and a lack of materials in the applicants’ native languages are just some of the obstacles facing those who have to renew a Japanese work visa or any other kind of visa in Japan.
One confusion stems from the terms used. When you do a renewal, you are actually “extending the period of stay” under your status of residence, NOT “renewing a visa.” A visa indicates that you can enter and stay in Japan; you can’t get a visa while in Japan. A status of residence allows you to engage in the activities allowed by that status for a certain period. So what most people mean when they say they are renewing their Japanese visa is that they are extending the period of stay allowed by their residence status.
Another particularly frustrating aspect that seems like it could be solved easily, though, is the lack of a clearly defined single website for official materials related to the Japan visa extension process. The Ministry of Justice and the Immigration Bureau (part of the Ministry of Justice) have the process outline and documents placed in difficult-to-find places on their websites. Additionally, they have the necessary materials divided between the two websites, which is confusing.
Last weekend, while trying to find the Japan visa application forms to extend my own Japanese work visa, I decided to compile a list of the most relevant links and materials for the visa renewal process in Japan. The list starts with the links I think will be most helpful. Hopefully this will make your visa renewal a little less of a hassle. Good luck!
Japan Visa Renewal Links and Resources
How to Make an Application for Extension of Period of Stay
The Immigration Bureau provides the official steps for extension of period of stay (basically your Japanese visa renewal). This page was the most useful to me when preparing my documents for renewing a visa in Japan.
How to make an application for extension of period of stay [English]
Application for Extension of Period of Stay Forms (PDFs and Excel)
On this page, the Ministry of Justice doesn’t provide the details about visa renewal, but does provide the forms necessary for the renewal of each type of visa.
Immigration Bureau Office Locations
The official process outlined on the Immigration Bureau’s website instructs the visa renewal applicant to check their local immigration office’s page for locations and hours. However, the page about the immigration office locations is tucked away, so here they are out in the open (click on the button with name of your region’s immigration office to be taken to a description of that office).
Immigration Bureau Offices (locations, hours, etc.) [English]
Toll-Free Nationwide Telephone Counseling Line for Foreign Nationals
If you have any questions about the visa renewal process and would like help in English or another language, you can call this toll-free counseling line for foreign nationals.
Guidelines for Permission for Change of Status of Residence and Extension of Period of Stay
For anyone who has in-depth questions about how visa renewals are decided and the prerequisites to be granted an extension of period of stay in Japan, this list of guidelines may be helpful.
Ministry of Justice Official Status of Residence Materials List
The Ministry of Justice provides several miscellaneous materials and articles on its website in Japanese about visas and the status of residence, including the extension of a work visa in Japan.
Ministry of Justice Website (main page)
The Japanese Ministry of Justice is the ministry in charge of immigration. The Immigration Bureau of Japan is a part of the Ministry of Justice, but has a separate website, as shown below.
Immigration Bureau of Japan (main page)
The Immigration Bureau of Japan is the bureau in charge of immigration and is a part of the Ministry of Justice. The Immigration Bureau has a separate website from the overarching Ministry of Justice website.