Moving to Japan

Japan is a popular tourist destination, but moving to Japan permanently is different from spending a vacation there.

Visas: How to Get a Visa

If you want to stay in Japan for more than three months, you’ll need a visa. Visit the consulate of Japan in the United States for detailed information. The type of visa will depend on how long you are planning to stay in Japan and the type of activity you will be engaged in while in the country. You will get a landing permit (stamped in the passport). The duration of your stay and date of entry will also be written in your passport.

Temporary visitors from the United States do not need a visa. During these three months, you will be allowed to spend a vacation there, go sightseeing, play sports, participate in various courses, visit relatives and perhaps make some business contacts, but you won’t be allowed to work.

In case you decide to stay in Japan longer, you will have to leave the country, go back to the United States and apply for a long-term visa (cultural visa, work visa or student visa). After getting a long-term visa, you can come back to Japan.

You will have to submit your documents in person. The documents include:

• Form 1C (an application form)
• A valid passport
• One or two photographs
• A certificate of eligibility. You will get this certificate from the  Japanese Immigration Bureau. Your sponsor (in Japan) will send you this certificate. If you don’t have this certificate, you will still need the 1C form, passport and photographs, along with the following:

• An acceptance letter from the institution you will attend in Japan. People who want to attend a vocational school have to prove that they are proficient in Japanese.

• You will also have to prove that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay.

Each type of work visa (there are fourteen different types of work visas) has its own parameters. Different work visas are issued for artists, professors, researchers, medical professionals, engineers, entertainer, instructors, skilled labor, international services, etc. You can find more information on the  Japanese Embassy website.

A college degree is considered a minimum, and you need to have certain experience in your field of expertise.


When you come to Japan, you need to complete the paperwork at the local municipal office. You need to go through the process of alien registration. You should do this as soon as you come to Japan. You will need 2 photos (4.5 x 3.5), and a signature. You will be told when to come to take your card. A foreigner younger than 16 will be given a card right after application.

Permanent Residency

It may be difficult to get a permanent resident status, but it is not impossible. To do this, you will need a good guarantor, good connections, a lot of money – and the entire process can take nearly ten years. You can make this period shorter if you marry a citizen of Japan.

Japan is known as an expensive country. Before you decide to move there permanently, learn more about  the cost of living.

Read  other people’s experiences.