Who Would Need a Student Visa?

Japan is becoming an increasingly popular destination to study abroad for young people who are interested in learning the language and absorbing the culture in this country. If you plan to enter a Japanese language school, a vocational school, or a college/ university in Japan for more than 90 days, you are required to have a student visa. Fortunately, this is considered one of the easiest visas to receive. 

What Steps Should You Take to Apply for a Visa?

First of all, you will need to find a school or a university that you are able to be enrolled in. Most schools offer visa sponsorship, which will help you get your Certificate of Eligibility, and make your application process smoother. 

As you get accepted to a school or a university, the school will submit your application to the Immigration Bureau in Japan on your behalf. This process might take 2 to 3 months for the Immigration Bureau to approve your application, after which the school will send you a Certificate of Eligibility. 

Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility through Your School 

In order to receive a Certificate of Eligibility, you will have to prepare the following documents. All of these documents need to be in either English or Japanese or have notarized translations attached to them.

  • Application form 

You will fill in the information of your personal information and the course you are to be enrolled in. 

  • Personal history form

You will fill in your educational and/or professional history in the form. 

  • Eight identical ID Photos (3 cm x 4 cm)

Photos must show a clear and full front view of your face from the bottom of the chin to the top of the hair against a plain background. You must not wear sunglasses or hats and your eyes and ears must be clearly visible.

The photo can be either passport photos or taken at an ID photo booth and must be taken within 3 months prior to your application submission. 

  • Passport photocopy

Copy of the Photo/ID and Signature page of your passport. If you have been to Japan in the past, then you should also copy any previous entry and exit stamps.

  • Academic documents

In order to prove your educational history, you need to submit your diploma and official transcript are necessary.

  • Documents that show your financial capabilities

All visa applicants need to be able to demonstrate to the Japanese Immigration Bureau that they are capable of supporting themselves, including paying for tuition, living costs, school fees and other expenses while in Japan, or having guarantors who can cover these costs. 

The actual amount can vary depending on your school’s tuition fees, period of stay in Japan and your living circumstances after arriving in Japan. It is recommended that you show that you have access to 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 JPY or more in order to live and study in Japan for the first few months. 

If you self-finance the expenses for your studies and living costs, all documents should be provided under your official name in the passport. In case your stay is supported by another person, it is necessary to have a letter that clearly explains the situation, and financial documents should bear that person’s name. 

Financial documents as follows are accepted to be evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself: bank statements, income statements, award letters of scholarships or financial aids, letter of sponsorship by your financial supporter.

  • Medical check-up results

While many schools do not require you to submit your medical history check-up, some may ask for this and you would need to undergo a health check-up in order to receive a health certificate. 

After You Have Received the Certificate of Eligibility 

After you have received the Certificate of Eligibility sent from your school or university,  you will need to make an appointment at a Japanese embassy or consulate that is in your area in order to apply for the visa. You should look up on the website of the Embassy of Japan in the US in order to find the consulate that serves your state where you reside in.

You are required to submit the following documents to the embassy:

  1. Your valid passport
  2. A visa application form to enter Japan. This form is provided on the official website of the Embassy of Japan in the US. You can choose to either fill in digitally, or by hand in clear, intelligible block letters.
  3. One photograph (2″x 2″) attached to application form
  4. Original Certificate of Eligibility from the Ministry of Justice in Japan (sent to you from your school or university) and one photocopy

Getting Your Visa 

The amount of time needed to get your visa depends on where you live, but typically it ranges between two to three weeks. In order to maximize your chances of getting your visa, it is advisable that you fill in the application form carefully with no errors and submit sufficient proof to clearly show your intentions of studying and living in Japan. If the information in the application package is found to be falsified or fraudulent at any step, or that you have a serious criminal record, there is a possibility that your application will be denied. 

Arriving in Japan

When you arrive at the airport in Japan, you will need to fill in and submit a landing card. If you have a student visa, you can also apply for a work permit (Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted) at the airport, which will allow you to work part-time for 28 hours a week. 

Mt Fuji in autumn view from lake Kawaguchiko.

At the passport control, you will also be given your Residence Card, which is an important ID card that you should always carry with you throughout your time in Japan. 


You’ve made it! While it can be a daunting and stressful process, always be patient and meticulous when preparing the documents. If you have a clear purpose and can demonstrate that you have the means and the ability to study in Japan, you will be able to acquire the coveted student visa in Japan in no time.