Part 4 of our series on Japanese visas

When you change your job, get married to a Japanese person, or get a job while you are studying in Japan. When you need to change your visa status, reading this article will make the process less overwhelming and stressful for you.


  • There are a lot of documents to prepare
  • Go to a local Immigration Bureau to submit the documents

What you need to submit

Changing visa status is done with simple steps: Getting all the documentation needed to apply, submitting the documents at a local Immigration Bureau, obtaining your new visa and cancelling your old visa. However, the first step can be challenging.

You need an application form, a photo (4cm×3cm) copy, passport and residence card, and a revenue stamp which costs about a few thousand yen. In addition to these, there are a few more documentations to submit depending on which status you would like to change your visa to.

There are as many as 27 visa statuses, so I am just going to explain a couple of examples. 

Many of the foreign people working in Japan have either the Specialist in Humanities visa or the Instructor visa. The former is held by people like eikaiwa (English conversation) teachers at foreign language schools run by private companies. The latter is for people like language teachers at Japanese schools.

According to Immigration Bureau of Japan, if you are changing your visa status from the Specialist in Humanities visa to the Instructor visa, what you would need in addition to the documents mentioned above is a degree certificate or any document that certifies the career you are starting, your new employment contract, and  a “material showing the outline of the recipient organization.”

The last one sounds confusing, but this means that they need a document or some kind of proof showing that where you are going to work for is legitimate.

The other example is when you find the love of your life in Japan. When you get married to a Japanese person, you can apply for the Spouse visa. You would need many additional materials to apply:

  • Your spouse’s koseki touhon (certificate of family register) with the record of your marriage is on
  • Marriage certificate issued in your home country
  • Your spouse’s tax certificate
  • A letter of guarantee by your spouse
  • A document full of questions about your relationship
  • Two to three photos of you and your spouse

The last two are interesting, aren’t they? In fact, in the document with questions, they ask so many questions including how you two met, how long you have dated before you get married, where you had a wedding, how each of you have learned your partner’s language, and how you try to communicate better. The photos are used as a piece of proof of your relationship.

You might find it a little strange or too much to do, but actually, there are people who marry Japanese only for a spouse visa. That is why they want to see how serious of a couple the applicants are.  

Where to go

When you get all the materials you need, it is time to submit them. You can submit the materials at a local Immigration Bureau. If you go to the Shinagawa Bureau, it is better to get there early in the morning, since it is a major bureau and it tends to get crowded with applicants easily.

The bureaus are open from 9am to 12pm, and from 1pm to 4pm on weekdays. 

If you get approved, you will get a change of status postcard two weeks to a month after your submission. Then you go to the bureau again, this time with the postcard and passport, and they will cancel your old visa by punching or putting a stamp on your old visa sticker.

Worth the time and efforts

For more information, please visit Immigration Bureau of Japan’s page. It explains the application process in details. Changing visa status can be time-consuming and stressful, but just be patient and do your part, and wait for a good result. I hope your visa status change goes smoothly!

Part 1: Different Visa Types in Japan
Part 2: How to Get a Japanese Working Visa
Part 3: How to Get a Working Status on a Japanese Student Visa