Visa and Entry to Japan

Visa and Entry to Japan

Japanese Immigration procedures can be very confusing. The Center for International Affairs is here to help you with your required paperwork, but since you are ultimately responsible for your own compliance with Japanese law, please make sure to read through the information below!

Who Needs to Read This?

All international students who do not have Japanese nationality must obtain a Student Visa before departure in order to be enrolled in and study at a university for over 90 days.
Students of certain nationalities will need a student visa even if they are staying for less than 90 days. This means that all AIU students must be familiar with the information below!

Step 1: Certificate of Eligibility

You will need an electronic Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) issued by the Immigration Services Agency in Japan in order to apply for a Student Visa. AIU will apply for your CoE after you are accepted, based on the information and documents that you send us. In order to receive your visa that will allow you to arrive in Japan, please make sure to include all of the application documents, especially digital photos, a passport scan, and your Proof of Financial Resources, in your emailed application and to submit your “Offer Acceptance and Immigration Information” form through the online application system immediately after you receive your Letter of Acceptance to your AIU Online System account.


– Once AIU submits your CoE application to the Immigration Services Agency, it may take up to 1-3 months to process. AIU cannot accelerate this process and we cannot check on its status. Therefore, in order to guarantee issuance of your CoE on time, it is critical to submit your application as soon as possible.

– As of March 17, 2023, the electronic CoE was introduced and we can now send you your CoE by email instead of by postal mail once it is issued by the Immigration Services Agency. You can thus apply for your Student Visa by presenting the email from the Immigration Services Agency (which acts as your electronic CoE), to the Japanese embassy or Consulate when applying for your visa. Although it is different from physical paper CoEs that were issued by postal mail in the past, the email from the Immigration Services Agency will now function as your valid electronic CoE that you will use for your Student Visa application.

Step 2: Visa Application

Your Visa is your permission to enter Japan and to obtain a Residence Status. As soon as you receive the electronic CoE through AIU by email, you should go to the nearest embassy or consulate of Japan in your home country to apply for your visa. Please contact the embassy/consulate in advance to find out what other documents are required for the application in your country.

Important: You are solely responsible for applying for a Student Visa and obtaining it before traveling to Japan.

Visa Application Form FAQ

When completing the visa application form, there are a few sections that generally do not apply to student visa applicants who have a Certificate of Eligibility. For each of the sections below, please contact the embassy or consulate where you will submit your application to ask for specific instructions.

In general, since you are applying for a student visa and you have a CoE, you should be able to fill in the application items as follows:

  • Names and addresses of hotels or persons with whom applicant intends to stay:
    Write “Akita International University” for the name and the university’s address and phone number. (See the entries in the sample form below for details.)
  • Guarantor or reference in Japan (Please provide details of the guarantor or the person to be visited in Japan):
    This is not applicable for students. You should be able to leave it blank.
  • Inviter in Japan (Please write ‘same as above’ if the inviting person and the guarantor are the same):
    Write “Akita International University” for the name and the university’s address and phone number. Fill in “Accepting University” for the relationship and leave all other fields blank (See the entries in the sample form below for details.)

Important: The instructions above and in the sample application form entries are based on the responses that have worked for almost all students in the past. Not every embassy or consulate is consistent in the way that it processes this application form. It is your responsibility to contact the embassy or consulate directly and ensure the same instructions are valid for your application.

Step 3: Landing Permit and Residence Card

When Can I Enter Japan?

Please plan to arrive no earlier than one week before the designated arrival date (which will be notified to you along with the acceptance letter) at the AIU campus, regardless of how early you may be able to travel. Your Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) is issued by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan for the express purpose of studying at AIU and so is meant to cover your entire study period. However, since the period length of your residence status is predetermined and begins from the day you arrive, if you enter Japan too early, there is a possibility that the validity of your Residence Card may expire before the end of your study period and leave you with no legal residence status at the end of your study abroad. Additionally, since the purpose of your visit to Japan is to study at AIU, it is essential to enter the country with your Student Visa, so we ask that you do NOT try to come to Japan early by entering as a tourist. To summarize, do NOT come earlier than one week before the designated arrival date, and make sure to enter the country as a student, NOT as a tourist.

Once you arrive in Japan with your Student Visa and pass through immigration, you will be given a Student Residence Status. This is your permission to stay in Japan as a student. At this point, your Student Visa is no longer important, regardless of whether it is a single- or multiple-entry visa. The Residence Status is all that matters.

At the airport, you will receive a Landing Permission Seal in your passport that shows how long you may stay in Japan. If you arrive at one of the airports listed below, then you will also receive your Residence Card at the airport. If you arrive at any other airport, you will receive your Residence Card later, after you complete your residence registration paperwork during orientation. Don’t worry, we’ll help you with that.

Sample of Residence Card

Important: Once you have your Residence Card, then your visa expiration date and landing permission seal expiration date are no longer important, so you can ignore those.

Sample of Student Visa
The Visa date of expiry is the date by which you must enter Japan. Once you are in the country, you can ignore this date.

Sample of Landing Permission
The landing permission seal shows your initial allowed duration of stay in Japan. Once you have your residence card, then you only need to refer to the date on the Residence Card.

Airports that Issue Residence Cards:

  • Narita International Airport
  • Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
  • Kansai International Airport (in Osaka)
  • Chubu Centrair International Airport (in Nagoya)
  • New Chitose Airport (in Sapporo)
  • Hiroshima Airport
  • Fukuoka Airport

We also strongly recommend that all incoming students obtain a Work Permit on your arrival at the airport, since it will be necessary for some community outreach activities. The immigration official may suggest that you apply for the permit later, once you reach Akita, but we recommend that you do it at the airport. The airport application is much faster and simpler. Applying later will require more paperwork and time.

Please read the webpage about the Work Permit and Re-entry Permit for more information.

You must carry the Residence Card at all times as your ID.

Residence Status After Leaving AIU

The Date of Expiration on your Residence Card is the date that shows how long you can stay in Japan. However, even if you have time left until the Date of Expiration on your Residence Card, your Student Residence Status is valid for up to 14 days after the official final day of classes.

Do you plan to stay in Japan beyond 14 days for sightseeing?
  • You need to change your status to “Temporary Visitor” and receive a seal in your passport.
  • If you change your Residence Status to “Temporary Visitor”, your National Health Insurance will become invalid immediately after that change, so you will become responsible for paying 100% of any medical bills after that time. Make sure that the validity dates of your self-purchased traveler’s insurance cover your entire stay, including any tourism periods.
  • You can only change your status to “Temporary Visitor” at the Immigration Services Agency Akita Branch Office in Akita city after your last final exam (or last class) ends and it must be completed before you leave Akita. (The date of your last final exam or class will vary depending on the courses you enroll in.)
  • Since the Immigration Services Agency’s Akita Branch Office Hours are 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00 on weekdays, please purchase a flight ticket leaving Akita 1-2 full business days after your last final exam. That will give you sufficient time to apply and visit the office to receive a “Temporary Visitor” status seal in your passport.
Do you plan to stay in Japan after your study abroad at AIU to study at another institution, take part in an internship, work at an organization or at a company, etc.?
  • If you will be staying in Japan to enroll in another university, start a job or internship, or for any other reason, you must contact your sponsoring organization for instructions as to how to change your Residence Status.
  • Even if you will stay in Japan as a student at another school, you must change to a new Student Residence Status sponsored by that university.

Important Links

Center for International Affairs
Akita International University
Yuwa, Akita-City 010-1292 Japan
Tel. +81-(0)18-886-5927, +81-(0)18-886-5937
Fax. +81-(0)18-886-5853
Inbound Students:[mail international]
Outbound Students:[mail studyabroad]
Office Hours (Mon – Fri) 9:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 17:00