If you want to study in Japan, the one thing you will need without a doubt is a student visa. Obtaining one will enable you to attend school and live in Japan for an extended period of time (i.e. longer than the three months you’d get with a travel visa). It may seem like quite the task, but following the steps below that outline student visa requirements will guarantee a successful process!
First and foremost, you will need to find a school that fits your needs. Whether it be a university or language school, be sure to do your research and apply for a program that is right for you. Once you’re enrolled, the school will provide you with a student visa application form.
Visa Application Form and Documents
The student visa application form will ask for personal information including details of your employment status, where you will be staying in Japan, why you are coming to Japan, and more. Be prepared to fill the document out thoroughly, and keep a copy for yourself because you will need it when applying for your visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate. Note that there are deadlines for visa applications, so get working on it as soon as you receive it.
In addition to the application form, you will need to submit a photocopy of your passport and at least one passport-standard photograph of yourself. Most institutions will also ask you to send academic records and proof of financial viability. Be aware that transcripts and academic certificates are usually required to be original documents from the school you attended, not copies of them. Proof of financial viability can include bank and income statements (yours or your guarantor’s) as well as financial aid and/or scholarship award letters. These documents will confirm to your school and the Japan Immigration Bureau that you have the financial means to live and study in Japan. It is recommended that your documents show proof of access to at least ¥2,000,000 upon submission.
Once you have sent the documents to your school, they will send your student visa application to the Immigration Bureau on your behalf. Within about 5-8 weeks, your application should be processed and approved.
Certificate of Eligibility and Visa Acquisition
Upon approval, the Immigration Bureau will issue a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to your school of choice and they will mail it to you. Although a COE is not mandatory to obtain a student visa, they are generally regarded as a critical document to heighten your chance of being granted a visa. After you receive the COE, bring it to the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate along with your passport, visa application form, and passport-standard photos of yourself. Remember this is the only way you will get a Japanese visa — you cannot obtain one in Japan after you arrive to start school. The embassy will process your documents, and if all is well, they will grant you a Japanese student visa within eight days and return your COE and passport, which will be stamped with your visa. You are now eligible to enter Japan as a student!
Although the process is time consuming, all of your efforts to get a Japanese student visa will be well worth it. Studying in Japan will allow you to explore a deeper understanding of not only the language, but of the Japanese culture and lifestyle as well. With your student visa, you will be free to have fun immersing yourself in the society for a substantial stretch of time, making new friends and building new memories all along the way.