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Hidden Route — Japan Visa Pathways


Miho Tanaka


October 05, 2021


08:55 PM

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The large majority of foreigners are facing issues acquiring a visa... no one can seem to figure out the right procedures through the immigration bureau — why?

  1. The most important criteria is redacted
  2. The Immigration Bureau can make decisions at its discretion
  3. So-called “immigration lawyers” cannot access the redacted sentences

Redacted Rules

Reading through several applications, including grants, subsidies and contracts, I found some of the most important contents are written within the “side note (注)” section.

These contents matter when we submit applications for practice, but all the detailed side notes are then redacted in the examination procedure the Immigration Bureau publishes.

Gyo-sei shoshi — so called “immigration specialist” cannot even access to the redacted sentences, leaving vital information constantly veiled in mystery.


Sole Discretion

The answer from immigration varies all the time, and the Minister of Justice can make judgements at its own discretion.

Many Gyosei-shoshi — Which One to Ask?

Basically Gyosei-shoshi (Administrative Scriveners) and Lawyers are the two players who can process immigration documents on behalf of clients.

However, neither needs to study anything about immigration law to pass the national exam. Shinsei-toritsugi-gyosei-shoshi (申請取次行政書士) are those who passed the regular Gyosei-shoshi exam and additionally took some classes about immigration rules.

Immigration rules are changing every single year, so they all must be caught up the latest information all the time. My recommendation would be: try to find shinsei-toritsugi-gyosei-shoshi (申請取次行政書士) from the beginning.

Speak With Someone Who Recently Got the Same Visa Type

After listening to various opinions regarding visa procedures from friends, clients, business partners and administrative scriveners, I found the best teacher for us is always the visa holders themselves. Those who’ve recently acquired a visa by going through all the procedures by themselves.

Myself included, there are many supporters trying to help who speak Native Japanese and communicate with officers at governmental offices, but the answers we get sometimes differ from one person to the next.

Comparing Answers From Different Sources

Applicants often ask several administrative scriveners and compare their answers, as a result what I often hear is — everybody provides them with different answers.

The reason could be:

  • the listener does not have enough experience
  • the applicant provides slightly different information each time
  • miscommunication

If you have time to talk with several immigration specialists, please make sure to ask exactly the same questions each time. Otherwise, be sure to provide information as specific as possible.

Outsource or Do It Yourself

Some people don’t want to spend too much money outsourcing their applications, so they try to do everything by themselves to minimize the fee.

As long as the applicant completes all portions of the application by themselves it work; however it is best to outsource everything if you are unsure about the contents of your application. Revising may take longer than creating the right content from the beginning.

Do not choose the wrong pathway: Do Research!

Most visa applicants have more than one option for visa pathway in the beginning, yes sometimes explore only one option and jump right into starting the procedures. If the process then gets stuck it can prevent them from doing simple matters such as: contracting real estate agencies, opening bank accounts, or applying for a new visa. Consider the following:

  • how many months are left until the visa expiry date and what you can do within the activities allowed under the visa
  • Can you benefit from your partners visa
  • what is the desirable outcome — do you want a visa, start a small business, secure period of stay for a certain period of time, or bring a partner?

Most of the procedures are a chicken and egg situation. Still there are ways to overcome, as many who once struggled through the process are now successfully residing and working in Japan and/or operating a business. Remaining are those making an effort to start their lives in Japan.

Hidden routes make navigating the procedures difficult for everyone, while on the other hand they can aid us through the process. Be advised to know the practice, keep asking, and connect with the right people.

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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