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How To Find A Good Immigration Specialist in Japan


Miho Tanaka


November 05, 2021


08:49 AM

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Most visa-holders need some help from immigration specialists in Japan, but who are they? Some presenting themselves to be have tons of knowledge while others don’t — why is this the case? I took a national exam for “Administrative Scrivener” and I discovered the reasons.

Licensed scrivener

Administrative Scrivener (行政書士 : Gyosei Shoshi) is the national license holder who can create documents for visa applications on behalf of the client. Administrative Scrivener’s can usually create applications for:

  • Visa
  • Permanent Residence
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Inheritance
  • Business License (ex. restaurant, hear salon, bar, etc.)

They are in charge of creating documents submitted to administrative offices.

What kind of law do they know?

In order to become an Administrative Scrivener, one must pass a national exam. The number of registers for the Administrative Scrivener national exam was 52,386 in 2019. 39,821 people actually took the exam, and 4,571 people passed. The pass rate is usually 10–12%.

The exam topics include:

  • Constitution (憲法)
  • Administrative Law (行政法: 行政組織法, 行政代執行法, 行政不服審査法, 行政事件訴訟法, 国家賠償法, 地方自治法)
  • Civil Law (民法)
  • Companies Act (会社法)
  • Commercial Law (商法)
  • Personal Information Protection Law (個人情報保護法)

and the other basic laws. Leaving the question - where is Immigration Law?

Knowledge of Immigration Law is not required to become an Administrative Scrivener

Many people struggle with getting valid visa information from a so-called “immigration specialist” because they unfortunately didn’t have to study this topic to pass the exam. Since Administrative Scriveners can process various kinds of documents for administrative offices, the exam only covers the general idea of law around the tasks that Administrative Scrivener is responsible for.

Administrative Scrivener: Two Types

There are two types of Administrative Scriveners:

  • Administrative Scrivener (with basic license) who can “create” visa documents
  • Administrative Scrivener who can “process” visa documents, called “Shin-sei-tori-tsugi Gyosei Shoshi -申請取次行政書士”

The second one (申請取次行政書士) took additional exam upon receiving their license as a basic Administrative Scrivener. The second exam includes Immigration Law. Therefore, in short, we simply shouldn’t rely on basic Administrative Scriveners.

How can we find a good Immigration Specialist?

Ask these questions:

  • Are you a “Shin-sei-tori-tsugi Gyosei Shoshi -申請取次行政書士” ?
  • How many applications have you process in the past?
  • Have you processed applications for “(the name of the visa you’re applying for)”? If yes, how many times?


Only practical experience matters

Immigration Law witnessed a major change in 2019, and the minor laws keep changing. The best administrative scriveners specializing in VISA processes always stay up to date on the latest regulation changes. Since they practically process the application on behalf of the clients, they are aware of changes not only in the laws/regulations but also the practices at Immigration Bureau.

Unfortunately the answers given from the Immigration Bureau are not always the same. The answer depends on the person who receives the application. An Administrative Scrivener with practical experience understands this and they know how to reapply again if the first application is declined.

I advise putting your trust in an Administrative Scriveners who has over 1,000 practical experiences of processing visa applications.

Additionally, Administrative Scriveners who often work with CEO’s have a better idea of how to process the visa and the reasoning behind the application process. Visa status is not only about residential status. It is sometimes closely attached to business strategy. I personally had a hard time getting a desirable answer from Administrative Scrivener’s who only deal with paperwork, and haven’t really worked with C-suite level executives.

I’m honest — I’m not an Administrative Scrivener, yet!

However, what I know is who has experience and who doesn’t after organizing almost 30 events inviting Administrative Scriveners and listening to Q&A between them.

I don’t want any of you to get stuck with visa troubles, so please remember the three things to ask before you consult with “immigration specialists.”

Get More Advice on How to Navigate the Complexities of Japan Visa Pathways

Startup Work Inc. based in Tokyo, leads in supporting Shibuya's Startup Visa. With bilingual support staff and extensive, practical experience working with startups, Startup Work Inc. provides a leading source for supporting individuals and startup businesses in Japan.

Connect with Miho and set up a consultation to further discuss how to acquire a Japan residence visa, or other matters related to living in Japan.

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