Entry and return procedures - visa and Certificate of Eligibility

1. Visa

A foreign national intending to land in Japan must, in general, possess a valid passport, as well as a valid visa in said passport issued by a Japanese consular officer or other official.

The visa "confirms" that the foreign national's passport is valid and was legally issued by a competent authority, and "endorses" the foreign national's entry into and stay in Japan as appropriate to the conditions described in the visa.

The issuing of Japanese visas falls under the scope of function of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2. Certificate of Eligibility

If a foreign national intends to land in Japan with a status of residence other than "Temporary Visitor," the Immigration Control Act provides that the Minister of Justice will carry out an advance screening to determine whether the landing conditions for a status of residence are satisfied on the basis of an application and, if the conditions are satisfied, issue a certificate to that effect (application for issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility). The issued document is called a "Certificate of Eligibility." The Certificate of Eligibility system aims to provide immigration screening procedures that are simple, quick, and efficient.

A Certificate of Eligibility is issued after an advance screening is made by the Minister of Justice to determine whether or not the activities planned in Japan by a foreign national who wishes to land in Japan meet the conditions for landing (status of residence eligibility and landing standards conformance requirements). However, even if the activities the foreign national intends to carry out in Japan are found to fall under the status of residence and satisfy the landing standards, no Certificate of Eligibility will be issued if it is determined that the foreign national falls under grounds for denial of landing or otherwise does not satisfy landing conditions.

If a foreign national presents a Certificate of Eligibility to a Japanese consulate or other office and applies for a visa, the advance screening by the Minister of Justice will be considered to be complete so that the visa issuance examination can be carried out quickly.

A foreign national who presents said certificate at a port of entry will be considered by the immigration officer to have satisfied the landing conditions for the status of residence, so the landing examination will be simple and quick.

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