Departure order (Immigration Control Act, Article 24-3 and Articles 55-2 to 55-6)

1. Establishment of the Departure Order System

With regard to the deportation procedure, even if the deportee has voluntarily presented themselves to a Regional Immigration Services Bureau, they are subject to detention during the deportation process (as is standard for such cases). However, in the past, those who have been issued a written deportation notice and could prove they were able to depart the country quickly and at their own expense (in accordance with Article 52, Paragraph 4 of the Immigration Control Act) were granted the appropriate permissions (as in Article 54, Paragraph 2 of the same Act) and were not detained. In order to help reduce the number of foreign nationals overstaying their authorized periods of stay, it is necessary to promote voluntary appearance at immigration offices. To that end, the Immigration Control Act was amended in 2004 to establish the Departure Order System (which came into effect on December 2 of the same year). This amendment allows foreign nationals who have overstayed their authorized periods of stay to proceed with repatriation without being detained, provided that certain conditions are met.

2. People subject to departure orders (Immigration Control Act, Article 24-3)

Those subject to departure orders are foreign nationals who have overstayed their authorized periods of stay (those who fall under Article 24-2 (either subsection 3 through 4, or 6 through 7) of the Immigration Control Act), and who meet all of the following conditions:

  1. The foreign national has made a voluntary appearance at an immigration office;
  2. There are no grounds for deportation other than having exceeded their period of stay;
  3. The foreign national has not been sentenced to imprisonment with work or imprisonment without work due to certain crimes, such as theft;
  4. The foreign national has never before been deported from Japan under a departure order; and
  5. The foreign national is expected with certainty to depart from Japan as soon as possible.

3. Examination pertaining to the departure order (Immigration Control Act, Article 55-2)

If an immigration control officer has sufficient reason to believe that a suspect is subject to a departure order, the suspect is not to be detained (Article 39 of the Immigration Control Act notwithstanding), and the case will be passed over to an immigration officer. That immigration officer will continue the investigation, and ascertain whether or not the suspect is indeed subject to a departure order as quickly as possible. Should the immigration officer determine that a departure order has been approved, they will inform a supervising immigration inspector immediately.

Finally, the immigration officer will then return the case to the immigration control officer, who will continue the deportation procedures.

4. Departure order (Immigration Control Act, Article 55-3)

Upon receiving confirmation from an immigration officer that the suspect is subject to a departure order, a supervising immigration inspector will issue a written order which states that the suspect must leave Japan within 15 days. The supervising immigration inspector may also impose other conditions through the departure order, such as restrictions on the suspect's activities and/or their residence.

5. Revocation of the departure order (Immigration Control Act, Article 55-6)

A supervising immigration inspector may revoke a departure order if they discover that it has been violated (e.g. the suspect was working while on orders prohibiting employment). Those whose departure orders have been revoked are then subject to deportation. Those who remain in Japan will be subject to criminal charges.

6. Measures taken when the departure deadline has passed

Those who remain in Japan past their departure order deadline will be subject to deportation in addition to criminal charges.

7. Period of refusal of landing for those who left Japan under a departure order

Those who have left Japan under a departure order will be unable to enter the country for one full year from the date of departure.

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