Living in Japan

Renew Your Residency Visa Online: Japan’s Ministry of Justice to Implement 24-Hour Online Visa Renewal

Starting on July 25th, foreigners living in Japan will be able to extend their period-of-stay online, rather than having to go to the Immigration Bureau to submit an application in-person. This is according to a March 26th announcement by Japan’s Ministry of Justice. The Ministry will be implementing a system that will allow a legal representative (a lawyer or administrative scrivener) to renew a residency visa on your behalf online anytime, 24-hours a day.

Currently, in order to renew a residency visa, one has to submit the paperwork during weekday business hours, a time-consuming process that requires taking time off from work, slogging to the local Immigration Bureau, and waiting in line.

Even though online renewal will not be a direct procedure (since you will have to designate an authorized legal representative to do the renewal), this is seen as a big step in simplifying bureaucratic procedures for resident foreigners. The move to online visa renewal is meant as part of a larger set of improvements that the Ministry plans to put forth to make it easier for foreigners to come live and work in Japan.

As of July 25th, people holding the following residency visa statuses will be among those eligible to renew their visas online: Highly Skilled Professional (高度専門職), Researcher (研究), and Technical Intern (技能実習). The announcement did not specifically mention other visa statuses, such as the the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa but also did not specifically exclude them. As more details become available, we will update the changes on this page.

However, the Ministry did specifically say that the two new visas statuses (Specified Skills Visa No. 1 and Specified Skills Visa No. 2) meant to allow more blue-collar workers into the country will not be immediately eligible for online renewal. The Ministry says that it plans to make these and other statuses eligible at a later time, because ultimately the goal is to make the visa renewal process more convenient for all resident foreigners.

Starting on July 25th, the following types of applications will be accepted online:
  • Permission to renew the period-of-stay for continuing an activity with the same status of residence (basically a visa renewal)
  • Permission for non-qualified activities receiving compensation that are not included in the status of residence (for example, permission to do a part-time job)
  • Re-entry permit after temporarily leaving the country

Your  representative will be eligible to submit an online application if you have not been penalized for any immigration or labor violations within the last five years.

In order to use the online system, prior approval is necessary. The Ministry will start accepting applications to access the online system starting on March 29th.

Source: Mainichi Shinbun, March 26, 2019

You may also be interested in: Specified Skills Residency Visa for Japan: Here’s what you need to know

Lead photo: Immigration Bureau, Shingaawa, Tokyo (Photozou)