Information about appearing at an immigration office - procedures for foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas

Immigration Services Agency

The Immigration Services Agency has expanded PR efforts concerning the Departure Order System and revised the guidelines for special permission to stay in Japan in the hopes of encouraging foreign nationals who are worrying about having overstayed their visa to voluntarily make an appearance at an immigration office.

  • Foreign nationals living in Japan who have exceeded their period of stay and who wish to leave the country may follow the simple procedures of the Departure Order System to depart without detention.
    • While foreign nationals who have departed via deportation procedures may not re-enter Japan for a minimum of five years, those who leave the country under the Departure Order System are permitted to re-enter after one year has passed.
    • In order to be eligible for the Departure Order System, the following conditions must be met:
      1. The foreign national must make an appearance at an immigration office and must be willing to leave Japan as quickly as possible.
      2. There must be no grounds for deportation other than having exceeded the period of stay.
      3. The foreign national must not have, after entry, been sentenced to imprisonment with work or imprisonment without work due to certain crimes, such as theft.
      4. The foreign national must have never been deported from Japan under a departure order.
      5. The foreign national must be expected with certainty to promptly depart from Japan.
  • Those who wish to depart Japan through the Departure Order System must first make a voluntary appearance at an immigration office. Should they be granted provisional release, they will be able to depart without being detained.
  • Those who wish to continue residing in Japan must first make a voluntary appearance at an immigration office, then state their reasons for wanting to remain in the country.
    • In the recently revised "Guidelines on special permission to stay in Japan," there are now other positive factors (aside from marriage to a Japanese national) which are taken into consideration. These include: (1) making a voluntary appearance at an immigration office; (2) having custody of an elementary or secondary school-aged child who has resided in Japan for a considerable period of time; and (3) residing in Japan long enough to have become well-established.
      For example, the guidelines state that those who have made an appearance at an immigration office and are requesting special permission to stay in Japan under point (3) are more likely to be granted the request if they have no prior transgressions.
    • In principal, those who are found to have committed an infraction will be detained. However, those who make an appearance at an immigration office may be granted a provisional release, thus avoiding detention.
    • Should the Minister of Justice grant the special permission to stay, as outlined in this attachment (in Japanese),PDF (in Japanese) the foreign national's status of residence will no longer be considered illegal, and they will be permitted to remain in Japan as a legal resident.
    • Such permissions are awarded after careful consideration of both positive and negative factors. If special permission to stay in Japan is not granted, a deportation order will be issued.

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