Certificate of Eligibility

Q: What is the procedure for obtaining a new resident visa to live/work/study in Japan?


STEP 1: COE Application (timeframe: 1~1.5 months from application date)


The main procedure for obtaining a new residential visa (working visas, dependent visas, etc., i.e. all visas other than temporary visitor visas, which allow their holders to live in Japan and engage in respective activities such as work) is the application for a Certificate of Eligibility (“COE”), applied for at the Immigration Office in Japan in the name of the sponsoring entity (in the case of a work visa etc.) or the sponsoring individual (in the case of a relationship-type visa etc.) in Japan. Accredited Immigration Agents such as ourselves will be able to submit this application on your behalf, and also will manage the process from beginning to end.


This step is where all of the substantial examination takes place, to confirm that the applicant meets all relevant requirements and that the sponsoring entity is a sufficient sponsor. Once all points have been confirmed, a COE will be issued, which in itself is not a visa but rather a paper-based certificate which certifies that the applicant is eligible for the residential visa. The COE functions as a ticket which can be traded in for a residential visa in STEP 2.


The COEs are currently taking 1 to 1.5 months from application date to be issued, but may be longer depending on the circumstances.






Once the COE is issued, it can be changed to the respective residential visa, either (a) abroad or (b) in Japan, depending on where the applicant is located at the time of COE issuance.


(a)   Option A: Validating Abroad


If the applicant is abroad when the COE is issued, we will mail the COE to the applicant overseas, where he/she can take it to the nearest Japanese embassy/consulate to have the residential visa sticker issued in the passport. This procedure will generally take 2~5 business days after submission at the embassy. Once this is completed, the applicant will have resident visa status (e.g. working visa status) from the time he/she next arrives in Japan.


(b)   Option B: Validating in Japan


If the applicant coincidentally happens to be in Japan under a temporary visitor visa when the COE is issued, generally we will be able to change his/her visa status to the residential visa status in Japan, without the applicant having to leave Japan. This change in visa status can be completed within the same one day if applied for at certain Immigration Offices, but may take as long as 2~3 weeks in others (e.g. central Tokyo). Once this is completed, the applicant will have resident visa status (e.g. working visa status) from that time onwards, and will be free to officially start the respective activities (work etc.) in Japan.