The (Instructor) Visa Renewal Process

My visa is fast expiring–I can’t believe I’ve already been in Japan for a year. This blog is a horrible testament to that! Anyway, because I was given a 1 year visa by Interac when I first applied, it’s already time to renew… From what I’ve heard, JETs get a 3 year visa right away. Can someone fact check me please!

But, the visa process was probably one of the most surprising things I’ve dealt with in a long time in Japan. It was so surprising because of how simple it was. After dealing with visits to the ward office and filling out paperwork there, this was nothing. To be honest, I think the most difficult part of the whole process was getting to the office.
But first, let’s rewind to last month. Around 3 months before my visa and residence card were set to expire, Interac sent a packet to me in the mail with the renewal process instructions and paperwork. (I would like to note that this was Kanto South branch that sent this to me. When I asked my friends from my former Osaka branch, of course they didn’t get anything in the mail yet. They wouldn’t receive it until about a month later.) If you’re not with Interac, or if your branch isn’t very proactive, here’s what’s required:

1. Application form for extension of period of stay (included and partially filled for Interac)
2. Certificate of employment (included for Interac – otherwise provided by employer)
3. Copy of employment contract (included for Interac – otherwise provided by employer)
4. Taxation certificate – KAZEISHOMEISHO (needs to be obtained from the office where your address was registered on January 1st of this year)
5. Tax payment certificate – NOZEI SHOMEISHO (needs to be obtained from the office you were registered with last year)
6. Letter of release – TAISHOKU SHOMEISHO (needs to be obtained from your ex-employer if you obtained your Instructor visa from a different visa)
7. Passport/alien registration card/resident card/health insurance card

The application also came partially filled out, and all I had to do was put some of my information in that Interac didn’t already have. The company filled everything they knew, and it was my responsibility to do the rest.

However, because I moved wards within the year, I had an additional step: I also had to get a taxation sheet from my former ward office by mail. That process was easy as well, but only because Interac was willing to help me. Apparently the form was somewhere on the website (all in Japanese, of course) but one of the Interac employee found it, printed it, and filled out everything (including the mailing address) for me. If your branch isn’t as helpful (like my friend who moved within Osaka branch) and they tell you that you’re essentially on your own or you’re pressed for tie, it’s easier to go to your former office and request it in person. Then they’ll print it right there and you’ll be on your way, rather than waiting for it in the mail, which took about a week. After I got my tax form (that was all that I was waiting for), I assembled everything per instructions and put it aside.

Because this is Japan, the immigration office isn’t open on the weekends, or very late on weekdays. My very strict school gave me a begrudging OK leaving on a half day that I didn’t have classes. I asked my VP a week in advance, though I know a lot of people whose schools let them go whenever. Interac provided a map for the office I was supposed to go to. Be careful to check which office handles your paperwork and go to the right one! It was a few different transfers away, but I made it in time.

Pretty much empty!

I thought there was going to be a hug wait, especially because Yokohama has a large concentration of foreign residents, but it was almost completely empty! Maybe Thursdays are just just good days, or maybe 3:00 was just a good time, or maybe the office never gets that crowded.. Either way, there was only one other person in line ahead of me, and they opened up a new window o see me immediately.

I just handed the woman my stack of papers in the clear file, she looked at them and OK’d them. Then she asked for my passport and residence card (health insurance card was not needed!) and asked me to put my name and address on a post card. This is what they’ll be sending back to you to tell you that your card is ready to be picked up, so don’t mess up your address.

While I was at the counter with the woman helping me, I was cutting out my passport photo. I expected there to be a wait, so I wanted something to do during that time.. But turns out there was no wait, so I sheepishly handed my photo over to her (unattached to the application) but she took it and said she’d attach it herself.

If you don’t have a picture and can’t find a photo kiosk, they should have the at the office. I ended up taking a picture at the one near my school, which cost me 800 yen. I was pretty bummed to see the office was only 600 yen. I was expecting it to be way higher! Be sure to get “resume size” (some booths say “residence card size”) of 40mm x 30mm. It’ll print out 8 or so, so if you mess up you have some extras, I guess

Now, I’m just waiting for my postcard to arrive in the mail, signalling that they finished processing it.
Check out my followup post here!

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