Immigration System in Japan

- How to enter Japan with a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) -

Foreign nationals wishing to land in Japan must apply for landing permission from the immigration inspector at the airport or port where they intend to land and undergo a landing examination.


Upon examination by the immigration inspector, if the foreign national is found to meet the conditions for landing, landing is permitted and the foreign national is granted a "Status of residence" and period of stay.


Difference between "Visa" and "Status of Residence"


Foreign nationals applying for landing permission must prove that they meet the conditions for landing, but it is difficult to do so in a short time at the airport or port of arrival. Therefore, foreigners can expedite the landing examination procedures by obtaining a "Certificate of Eligibility (COE)" in advance. 



What is the "Certificate of Eligibility (COE)"?


The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) certifies that the foreign national who wishes to enter Japan meets the conditions for landing as stipulated by the Immigration Control Act.


Consequently, when foreign nationals intend to enter Japan for the first time, they are required to obtain a COE in advance, in principle, except for the "Temporary Visitor" status of residence.



How can you obtain a "Certificate of Eligibility (COE)"?


To obtain a COE, basically, a foreign national must appear in person at a regional immigration services bureau in Japan and apply for one. In practice, however, it is difficult for the foreign nationals themselves to appear because they are usually outside Japan. For this reason, it is also possible for a staff of the organization that intends to receive (hire) the foreign national to apply on their behalf.


Instead of appearing in person, the applicant or their representative may request an application agent, such as a Gyosei Shoshi (Immigration Lawyer or Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialist) notified to the Director of the Regional Immigration Bureau, who will submit the application form and other documents.



Procedures of entering Japan with a COE (Working Visa)


Visa Process Chart, COE Application Procedures, Certificate of Eligibility, How to enter Japan with a Certificate of Eligibility, Working Visa

"Temporary Visitor" status


The status of residence "Temporary Visitor" is not subject to the issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility. "Temporary Visitor" status allows foreign nationals to engage in non-working activities such as tourism, recuperation, sports, visits to relatives, field trips, short courses or meetings, and business liaisons. Foreign nationals who wish to enter Japan with "Temporary Visitor" status must obtain a "Short-term Stay" visa at a Japanese diplomatic mission abroad (Japanese embassy or consulate-general).