Generally, a national of a foreign country who wishes to enter Japan must first obtain a visa. Under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act of Japan, it is stipulated that any foreigner wishing to enter or land in Japan must possess a valid passport and a visa obtained from an embassy or consulate. Travelers from certain countries may be eligible to visit Japan without a visa under visa exemption arrangements.
Categories of Visa
Before applying, visa applicants must first decide which kind of visa to apply for according to the purpose of their visit to Japan. The documentation required for application differs according to the kind of visa the applicant needs. Please check the link Types and Categories of Visa.
At the Port of Entry
A visa itself does not guarantee landing (status of residence) permission. A visa is a recommendation that a foreigner should be allowed to enter Japan. In other words, it is a kind of certificate issued by the ambassador or consul verifying that the foreigner's passport is genuine and valid and that the application for a stay in Japan for the purpose and period indicated on the visa has been deemed appropriate. Landing permission is stamped in a foreigner's passport by immigration officers at the airport or seaport where he or she goes through immigration procedures. It is this landing permission, not a visa, that servers as the legal basis for the foreigner's stay in Japan. A visa is only a recommendation and does not automatically guarantee landing permission.
Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
A document issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan which certifies that the holder has met the criteria established for a certain status of residence in Japan; a Certificate of Eligibility is obtained from an immigration office by a proxy (e.g., school, employer, relative) in Japan.
The holder of this certificate has the advantage of reducing the time required to obtain a visa and complete immigration procedures by showing the certificate to the immigration officer, and can obtain landing permission more easily. Visa categories for which a Certificate of Eligibility can be issued include such activities as being an entertainer, student, professor, researcher, or long-term resident participating in religious activities, or for other specified purposes.
Requirements: The applicant of the Certificate of Eligibility must have a sponsor in Japan. This sponsor may be employers, schools, relatives, etc. They must contact the Immigration Bureau to apply for the applicants certificate. Upon approval, the certificate will be sent directly to the applicant.
Consulate General of Japan
1801 West End Avenue, Suite 900
Nashville, TN 37203
Office hours for Visas
9:00 AM - 12:30PM and 1:30PM - 5:00PM
Please submit your visa application before we close the window at 4:00pm.
Phone: 615-340-4300 Ext.151 / Fax: 615-340-4312