Non-Japanese nationals who wish to enter and reside in Japan may be required to go through various legal procedures, such as immigration inspection, obtaining a status of residence, or applying for the recognition of refugee status. Detailed information on necessary procedures for your entry into and stay in Japan is available on the Immigration Services Agency of Japan website, along with some samples of how to correctly fill out various application forms.
Entry to Japan, residence, naturalization
An entry examination (nyukoku shinsa) is carried out for foreign nationals who arrive in Japan. Those who wish to enter Japan must carry a valid passport. At the port of entry, an immigration officer checks the validity of your passport and visa, examines if your planned activities in Japan meet your qualified status of residence, and confirms that you are not falling under any conditions that may lead to the refusal of your entry.
Foreign nationals who reside in Japan must act according to their status of residence for the period of stay permitted at the time of entry. If you wish to change your residential status, to renew the period of stay, or to engage in activities other than those permitted by your current status, you are required to follow the designated procedure at a local office of the Immigration Services Agency of Japan.
Naturalization is a process undertaken by a foreign national who wishes to obtain Japanese nationality. An applicant for naturalization should first contact the Legal Affairs Bureau office of his/her area of residence. The general procedure for naturalization is as follows:
Make an appointment for consultation at the designated Legal Affairs Bureau office.
The office is open on weekdays from 8:30 to 17:15.
At the consultation, ask an official your questions such as your eligibility for naturalization and required documents. You may have to make multiple visits to the office.
Filling in an application form/Collecting necessary documents
Ask the Legal Affairs Bureau if you need to use a designated form for your required application documents. Various supportive documents are generally required to be attached to the application. Ask the Bureau for details as the types of documents needed may differ depending on the applicant's original nationality and other conditions.
The application must be submitted by the applicant in person. Application by an agent or representative is not acceptable. If the applicant is under 15 years old, however, the applicant's parents or guardian may apply as a legal representative of the applicant.
After the application is processed, the applicant and related persons may be examined at an interview.
Notice of approval/denial
« When the application is approved »
The Legal Affairs Bureau will notify the applicant of the approval. The applicant will be issued an approval notice and an identification card. The applicant must notify the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) of his/her current address of his/her naturalization within a month of the approval.
« When the application is denied »
The Legal Affairs Bureau will notify the applicant of the denial of the application. Reapplication by the denied applicant is allowed.
Although the application must be made by the applicant him/herself, the applicant may also use the paid services of an administrative lawyer (gyosei shoshi) to help with the complicated application process including preparation and collection of required documents.