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Due to the effects of COVID-19, special processes for changing or renewing your visa status as well as work support measures are being created for people who want to enter Japan and those who want to leave Japan but can’t at the present. WeXpats compiled and summarized this information.
We will update the information as necessary. Please check the links included throughout the article for more detailed information about each process and the necessary documents.
Table of Contents:
For people who want to come to Japan, we summarized the information about different status of residence/visa in points ①～④.
Usually, the COE has an expiration period of 3 months, but for those who were issued a COE between October 1, 2019~January 29, 2021, the COE will be valid for up to 6 months after restrictions to enter the country has been lifted or April 30, 2021, whichever comes first. However, you have to obtain a document from the organization (school, company, etc) accepting you in Japan that they will still be accepting you on the same terms as when you first applied.
If your COE has expired and the above extension no longer applies, you need to prepare the following documents and re-apply for a COE.
Certificate of Eligibility Application form
Statement of Reasons prepared by the accepting organization
The expired Certificate of Eligibility (original copy) [If you can’t produce this, you need to provide a statement explaining why (no specified format)]
Immigration Services of Japan “Application for a certificate of eligibility for (1) foreign nationals whose period of stay expired while outside of Japan and before re-entering and (2) foreign nationals whose certificate of eligibility has expired”
The date when the entry restriction was lifted per country (highlighted in yellow)
Immigration Services of Japan「在留資格認定証明書の有効期間に係る新たな取扱いについて」http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001316712.pdf
If you’re currently in the process of applying for a COE and waiting for it to be issued to you, and need to change the dates of when you will be able to begin the activities noted on the application, the organization accepting you must send a statement of reasons (an explanation of why you have to change the starting date). Please bring it to the Japanese embassy of the country you are in and they will be examined case by case. This will take about 2 weeks.
If due to the effects of COVID-19, you cannot re-enter Japan, ① relatives or representatives of the organization accepting you in Japan can pick up your residence card and send it to you and then ② you can then apply for permission to land as long as you have the re-entry permit and your new residence card.
In this case, you need to submit a form granting permission for another person to pick up your residence card.
Japanese Version [Word Document]
English Version [Word Document]
Power of Attorney
You do not need to obtain a COE. Please apply for an extension for your re-entry permit.
In the case that your re-entry or special re-entry permit expired between January 1,2020 and a month after the entry restrictions of your country/region you’re in were lifted, and you cannot extend the re-entry permit, please apply for a “Long-term Resident” visa within 6 months of the time since the entry restrictions have been lifted for your country or region at your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate general. You will be able to enter the country on a “Long-term Resident” visa which will be changed into a “Permanent Resident” status at the airport in Japan.
In the case that your special re-entry permit expired between January 1,2020 and a month after the entry restrictions into Japan of the country/region you’re in were lifted, and you are 1. a mid-to-long term resident who doesn’t have someone to apply for you in Japan or 2. have the status of Long-term Resident or Designated Activities that don’t come under public notice, you do not need to obtain a COE. Please apply for extension for the re-entry permit (or in the case it cannot be approved for extension, a visa) at your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate general up to 6 months after the entry restrictions are lifted for your country/region.
The status of residence that this applies to are the following: Artist, Religious activities, Journalist, Business manager, Legal/Accounting services, Medical services, Intra-company transferee, Entertainer, Dependent (Family stays), Designated Activities (not under public notice), Spouse or child of Japanese national, Spouse of permanent resident
Please check the following for more conditions (Japanese)
If you left Japan with a re-entry permit, but you couldn’t re-enter Japan and 1. your period of stay expired or 2. your COE expired, you will need to reapply for a COE. Whichever your case, it will take about 2 weeks to complete this process.
If you meet the following 3 conditions:
There is no change as to your activities or personal relationships in Japan
The re-entry deadline is on or after Jan 1, 2020
The re-entry permit expires within a month of the entry restrictions being lifted of the country/region you’re in
then you are eligible to reapply for the COE. Please prepare the following:
Certificate of Eligibility application form
A statement of reasons written by your accepting organization
A copy of your former residence card (as long as the information on the front can be confirmed, a photo or fax is fine. [If you can’t produce this, you need to provide a statement explaining why (no specified format)]
(English）Application for a certificate of eligibility for (1) foreign nationals whose period of stay expired while outside of Japan and before re-entering and (2) foreign nationals whose certificate of eligibility has expired【PDF】（2020.6.26)
For those who want to leave Japan and return to their country but can’t due to the effects of COVID-19, the following information is available. If the situation persists, you can extend your status of residence. You must submit documents by mail by September 30, 2020. We will explain in points ①～④.
Handling of foreign nationals who have difficulty returning to their home country or other country［PDF] (2020.6.26)
You can apply to extend your period of stay as “Temporary Visitor (90 days)".
You can change your visa status to “Designated Activities (6 months, Work Permitted)”. This also applies to Technical Interns who are unable to take the Skills Exam and are unable to change their status to Specified Skilled Worker at this time.
Document Checklist (Japanese) http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001320107.pdf
Immigration Services Agency of Japan “Regarding the handling of the period of stay for Technical Interns in relation to the effects of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)” (Japanese) http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001317458.pdf
If you completed your education in Japan after January 1, 2020, you can change your status of residence to “Designated Activities (6 months・Can work up to 28 hours per week)”. In that case, you can work up to 28 hours per week without applying for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted”.
Document Checklists (in Japanese)
Document Checklist（by mail）
Document Checklist（in person application）
You can change your visa status to “Designated Activities (6 months・No work permitted)”
For all 4 cases above, please submit the application that applies to you with all of the necessary attachments:
If you meet the following requirements, you can extend your visa status and continue to stay in Japan. All documents must be submitted by mail by September 30, 2020.
Usually, you are only allowed to continue your job search with the Designated Activities visa for up to a year after graduation, but you can extend the period of stay if your job search has been affected by COVID-19. You can also apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” and work part-time for up to 28 hours per week.
Usually, you can begin work within a year of receiving the job offer and can stay in Japan under the Designated Activities visa for up to a year and 6 months after graduation, but you can extend your period of stay if your start date was postponed to a later date due to the effects of COVID-19. You can also apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” and work part-time for up to 28 hours per week.
Immigration Services of Japan “Regarding Extension of Period of Stay for foreign nationals needing to extend their job search period or waiting period until starting a job” (Japanese) http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001318289.pdf
If you have a Designated Activities Working Holiday visa and are in Japan, but were unable to return to your country due to the effects of COVID-19 (closed airports, restricted travel, etc.), you may have changed your Working Holiday status to “Temporary Visitor”. But as of August 18, 2020, if you are still having trouble returning to your country, you can once again change your status to Designated Activities (Working Holiday).
In other words, since you aren’t allowed to work under the “Temporary Visitor” status, in order to support yourself during your time in Japan, you can apply to change your visa status back to Designated Activities (Working Holiday).
Immigration Services of Japan “Regarding the handling of change of Status of Residence for people on Working Holiday having trouble returning to their country” (Japanese) http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001319466.pdf
If you were working in Japan, but due to the effects of COVID-19, are unable to work, are not receiving leave allowance, or have become unemployed, you can receive support from the government.
If you work at small and medium sized companies, and aren’t receiving leave allowance despite the company instructing you to go on leave, you can receive support from the government. You can receive 80% of your salary before leave (daily maximum of 11,000 yen) for the number of days on leave.
The conditions are that
① you work in a small or medium sized company (small companies) and were asked to go on leave by your employer between April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 and
② you aren’t receiving leave allowance (salary paid by the company for days on leave)
Students working part-time and Technical Interns are included as well. The online application is currently being prepared now, but steps for the mail-in application are included in the leaflet below.
To see the process and download the application, please check the leaflets and link below:
Download the application
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, “The support fund and allowance for the leave forced to be taken under the COVID-19 outbreak”
If you cannot carry out the work that is listed under your status of residence because of the economic situation at your workplace worsened (bankruptcy, contract termination, withdrawal of employment offer, etc.) due to the effects of COVID-19, you can get support finding a new job. The jobs offered fall under the 14 Specified Skilled Worker categories.
About Specified Skilled Worker Visas and work
The following persons are eligible
①Technical Interns having difficulty continuing training
②Foreign workers who have difficulty continuing work (Status of residence: “Specified Skilled Worker” “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services”, “Skilled Labor” and so on)
③International students whose employment offer was withdrawn
Once you find a new job, either on your own or with support, you can apply to change your visa to Designated Activities.
To see the process and download the application, please check the leaflets and link below:
Download the Application and read more details (Japanese)
Ministry of Justice, “Support for technical interns having difficulty continuing training due to COVID-19”
If you need more detailed information or help about entry into Japan or changing the status of residence, please contact the country’s various support centers.
０３－５７９６－７１１２ (from abroad)
You can consult someone about COVID-19 in your native language.
You can consult someone not only about visas and status of residence, but about anything related to your life in Japan and any concerns you may have in your native language.
The Visitor Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
Sapporo Regional Immigration Bureau ０１１－２６１－７５０２
Sendai Regional Immigration Bureau ０２２－２５６－６０７６
Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau ０５７０－０３４２５９
Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau ０５２－５５９－２１５０
Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau ０６－４７０３－２１００
Hiroshima Regional Immigration Bureau ０８２－２２１－４４１１
Takamatsu Regional Immigration Bureau ０８７－８２２－５８５２
Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau ０９２－７１７－５４２０
We hope that this information is helpful to you if you are unsure about what to do about your status of residence in the current circumstances. Please make sure to check all links for detailed information. The team at WeXpats wish for everyone’s safety and health during this time.
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