Q&A

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Appearance at a Regional Immigration Services Bureau

Departure order

Visitation and gifts

Deportation

Provisional release

Special permission to stay in Japan

Answers

Q1I have been overstaying my period of stay, but I went to an immigration office and went through the procedures to continue living in Japan. Is there no longer any legal issue?

Among those who reported to an immigration office, many people misinterpret that "Because I have reported my illegal residency, I no longer have any legal issues. My status of violating the law has been resolved."
Even if a foreign national makes an appearance at an immigration office, it does not mean that their status of illegally overstaying is immediately resolved. Unless the Minister of Justice grants special permission to stay in Japan, the status of violating the Immigration Control Act will remain unchanged.
Therefore, in general, until the Minister of Justice reaches a decision, the foreign national is not allowed to work, and it is possible that they will be caught in violation of the Immigration Control Act at the factory or company where they work.

Q2Can a person who has been deported from Japan or who has been issued a departure order re-enter Japan?

In principle, those who have been deported from Japan for reasons such as overstaying their visa, or those who have departed Japan after receiving a departure order, cannot enter Japan for a set period of time (known as the landing denial period) in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Control Act. The details can be found below.

  1. The landing denial period for repeat offenders (Those who have been deported or departed Japan after receiving a departure order) is ten years from the date of deportation;
  2. The landing denial period for those who have been deported (excluding those who fall under 1 above) is five years from the date of deportation; and
  3. The landing denial period for those who departed Japan after receiving a departure order is one year from the date of departure.

Additionally, there are no fixed landing denial periods for those who have violated the laws of Japan or other countries and were sentenced to at least one year of imprisonment with or without work, or those who were sentenced for violating laws related to the control of narcotics, cannabis, opium, stimulants, etc., and they are not permitted to land in Japan.

Q3What should I prepare for when I appear at an immigration office?

Please bring your passport if you are making an appearance at an immigration office. If you do not have a passport for reasons such as losing it, please bring a certificate of identification if you have one. In principle, you must bring a valid passport if you wish to return to your country. In addition to your passport, you will need an airline ticket or a reservation confirmation issued by a travel agency. If you are illegally staying in Japan or are in violation of other laws and regulations, some time for investigation may be required and you may not be able to use the airline ticket that was prepared in advance. In this case, please visit and consult at an immigration office near you.

Q4What is the Departure Order System?

The Departure Order System is a system that allows violators of the Immigration Control Act, such as foreign nationals who overstay their authorized period of stay and meet a certain set of conditions, to depart Japan through simple procedures without being detained.
The people eligible for a departure order are stipulated in Article 24, Paragraph 3 of the Immigration Control Act. More specifically, they are foreign nationals who are overstaying their authorized period of stay as listed below.

  1. Foreign nationals who make an appearance at an immigration office and are willing to depart Japan promptly;
  2. Foreign nationals for whom there are no grounds for deportation other than having exceeded their period of stay;
  3. Foreign nationals who have not, after entry, been sentenced to imprisonment with or without work due to certain crimes, such as theft;
  4. Foreign nationals who have never been deported from Japan under a departure order; and
  5. Foreign nationals who are expected with certainty to depart from Japan without delay.
Q5Where should I go if I wish to be subject to the Departure Order System?

You must make an appearance at one of the eight Regional Immigration Services Bureaus (Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Fukuoka), the three District Immigration Services Offices (Yokohama, Kobe, Naha), or Kagoshima Branch Office, as the investigations into violations will be conducted at one of these offices.
In case you make an appearance on a weekday at the nearest immigration office other than the ones listed above, the office will issue a written confirmation of appearance to you and give you the date and location of your appearance at a Regional Immigration Services Bureau which will conduct the investigations into the violations listed above.

Q6Can I make my appearance at the immigration office of the airport where I wish to depart Japan from?

You will be issued a written confirmation of appearance if you appear at the immigration office of an airport. However, because some time will be required to investigate the violations, you cannot depart Japan on the same day you make an appearance in principle. As such, if you wish to receive a departure order and depart Japan, please complete the set procedures first at either one of the eight Regional Immigration Services Bureaus (Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Fukuoka), one of the three Regional Immigration Services Bureau District Immigration Services Offices (Yokohama, Kobe, Naha), or Kagoshima Branch Office.

Q7Approximately how long does it take to receive a departure order after appearing at an immigration office?

Depending on the circumstances of the person who made an appearance at an immigration office (such as whether they possess a passport or not), it is estimated to take approximately two weeks from the appearance at the Regional Immigration Services Bureau to receive the issuance of a departure order and depart Japan. As such, please be mindful of this when making a reservation for an airplane ticket to return home.

Q8If a foreign national who has not been deported in the past is caught on suspicion of illegal residency, can they be subject to the Departure Order System?

Departure orders are restricted to those who have willingly made an appearance at an immigration office. Therefore, foreign nationals who were found by the Immigration Services Agency to be overstaying their authorized period of stay are not eligible for a departure order.

Q9If a foreign national who entered Japan with a forged passport and has been residing illegally voluntarily turns themselves in to the Immigration Services Agency, can they be subject to the Departure Order System?

Since entering Japan with a forged passport is considered illegal entry, a departure order will not be applicable in such a case, and the person will be subject to deportation procedures for illegal entry.

Q10If a foreign national who was issued a departure order and left Japan once enters Japan after the period of refusal to land has elapsed, and overstays their period of stay again, can they receive a departure order again by appearing at an immigration office?

Departure orders are restricted to those who have not been deported from or departed Japan after receiving a departure order in the past. Therefore, foreign nationals overstaying their authorized period of stay who have received a departure order and departed Japan in the past are not eligible for a departure order.

Q11What are the hours for visitation?

The hours for visitation are weekdays between 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays. However, the hours for visitation may be different depending on the detention center, so please confirm with the officer in charge of the detention center before visiting.

Q12Is there anything I should prepare when I visit or give something?

Confirmation of identity will be conducted, so when visiting or giving something, please prepare your driver’s license, passport, employee ID card, or other ID with your photograph if you are Japanese, or your residence card, special permanent resident certificate, passport, or other document that proves your identity if you are a foreign national.

Q13Can I visit multiple times a day?

As a general rule, we ask that visits be limited to once per day in order to allow as many people as possible to visit in the limited span of time.

Q14How long do visits last for?

Each visitation is roughly 30 minutes or less. However if there is a large number of visitation requests, the length of visitations may be shortened in order for everyone to be able to conduct their visitation.

Q15Can I talk with a detainee over the phone?

Phone calls made from outside to a detainee are not accepted. We ask that you instead visit in person or send a letter. In some detention centers, it is possible for the detainee to make phone calls to the outside depending on the time.

General

Q16If I say the name of an individual, can you tell me whether they are detained or not?

In principle, inquiries over the phone regarding whether or not a person is being detained cannot be answered for protection of privacy.

Q17I would like to give gifts to a detainee, but what kinds of things cannot be gifted?

Due to health and safety reasons, we generally do not accept foods that need to be cooked with fire or foods that will rot easily at room temperature as gifts. For more details, please confirm with the officer in charge of the detention center.

Q18Can I gift an airplane ticket for a detainee's flight home?

Depending on the progress of the deportation procedures, it is possible that the airplane ticket that is gifted cannot be used. If you wish to give an airplane ticket for the detainee’s flight home, please confirm with the officer in charge of the detention first.

Q19How many pieces of luggage can I drop off?

Many airlines limit the amount of luggage that can be brought on the plane to one carry-on and 20 kg of checked luggage, and luggage above this is charged an extra fee. Considering this, and the amount and weight that individuals can carry, we ask that you only drop off one suitcase when giving luggage to detained foreign nationals.

Q20What are the reasons for detaining a person who has been issued a deportation order?

Upon issuance of a written deportation order, the individual must be deported to their destination of deportation immediately by the immigration control officer. However, if they cannot be deported right away, the individual may be detained until deportation is possible.
The reason for detention is to secure the individual until deportation is possible, as well as to prohibit the activities of the individual whose residence has been denied.

Q21What happens to detainees who do not have a valid passport?

By the request of the detainee, an application for passport issuance will be submitted by an employee of the immigration detention center or a Regional Immigration Services Bureau to the foreign diplomatic mission in Japan of the country of nationality of the detainee.

Q22What documents do I need to submit to apply for a passport? How long does it take to get a passport issued?

The documents required for an application of passport issuance will vary depending on the issuing country’s procedures. Furthermore, the time needed for the passport to be issued is not uniform.

Q23If I am leaving Japan at my own expense, can I freely purchase a return ticket and make a reservation for my return flight?

Depending on the progress of the deportation procedures and since changes to the reservation cannot be made for some types of airplane ticket, it is possible that the prepared airplane ticket cannot be used. If you would like to prepare a return ticket to your home country, please confirm with the person in charge at the immigration office first.

Q24I was granted a provisional release and will be leaving Japan at my own expense, but I missed my scheduled return flight. What should I do?

If you were given permission for voluntary departure at your own expense but missed your scheduled flight and are at the scheduled departure airport, you must make an appearance at the immigration office within the airport and receive detailed instructions on further actions to take.
In addition, if you were unable to board your scheduled return flight due to sudden illness, you must contact the Regional Immigration Services Bureau where you received your permission for voluntary departure at your own expense and receive detailed instructions on further actions to take.

Q25Are there any criteria for granting provisional release?

There are no criteria for granting or denying an application for provisional release.

When an application for provisional release is filed, the provisional release will be granted if the head of the immigration detention center or the supervising immigration inspector determines that there is a need to temporarily release the person based on the circumstances of the detainee, the evidence that is the reason for the request, as well as the personality and assets of the detainee.

Q26What are the conditions for being granted provisional release?

In addition to the designation of the address, range of activities, obligation to appear at an immigration office, and the duration of the provisional release, conditions will be imposed according to the circumstances of the person being granted the provisional release.

Q27How is the amount of bond for provisional release determined?

The amount of the bond is stipulated to be an "amount that does not exceed three million yen" in Article 54 of the Immigration Control Act. The bond cost is determined by the head of the immigration detention center or the supervising immigration inspector based on the finances of the person who will pay the bond, and whether it is enough for the security measures to guarantee the appearance at an immigration office by the person who will be provisionally released.

Q28What should I do if I need to go somewhere outside of the designated area while on provisional release?

If there is a need to go somewhere outside of the designated area while you are on a provisional release, you must first request temporary travel permission to the supervising immigration inspector at the Regional Immigration Services Bureau with jurisdiction over your designated address.
Other than the application for temporary travel permission applied for jointly with a guarantor, a document clarifying the purpose of travel, necessity, period of travel, etc. must also be submitted.
For further details, please contact the Regional Immigration Services Bureau with jurisdiction over your designated address.

Q29Can I work while on provisional release?

Those who have been issued a deportation order are those whose residence in Japan has not been permitted and as such are being deported. They are detained in a immigration detention center or Regional Immigration Services Bureau due to the need to prohibit them from engaging in resident activities in Japan. Even if they are temporarily released due to receiving permission for provisional release, they are not allowed to work because they still have been issued a deportation order.

Q30What are the criteria for special permission to stay in Japan?

There are no criteria for special permission to stay in Japan.
Special permission to stay in Japan is given to foreign nationals who fall under any of the provisions of Article 24 of the Immigration Control Act, and were originally meant to be deported from Japan but were specially permitted to reside in Japan by the Minister of Justice. A comprehensive decision is made based on circumstances such as the reason for the individual to request the permission, what kind of violation was made (the type of violation), their behavior, their family and living conditions, and domestic and overseas conditions, as well as the effects should the individual be granted or denied the permission.
Deportation is a punishment only for those who are not considered desirable to Japanese society. Specifically, those who fall under any of the grounds for deportation stipulated in Article 24 of the Immigration Control Act. The grounds for deportation include illegal entry, illegal stay, or violations of laws and regulations, or those who have been sentenced to imprisonment with or without work for more than one year.

Q31Will I be granted special permission to stay in Japan if I marry a Japanese national?

There is no guarantee that special permission will be granted.
Since special permission to stay in Japan is to grant special residence for those who would have been deported, marrying a Japanese national does not guarantee special permission to stay in Japan. A decision will be made in a comprehensive manner with consideration given to the individual's circumstances, such as whether they are married to a Japanese national, their behavior, their living conditions, and so on.

Q32Will I be granted special permission to stay in Japan if I have children?

There is no guarantee that special permission will be granted.
Although circumstances such as whether they are married to a Japanese national, are building a sustainable and safe household, and have a child with a Japanese national will be taken into consideration, a decision will be made in a comprehensive manner with consideration to the individual's circumstances, such as whether they are raising the child, their behavior, their living conditions, and so on.

Q33How long does it take from the time I apply for special permission to stay in Japan to be granted?

Special permission to stay in Japan is not granted by "applying."
Special permission to stay in Japan is granted in cases where an individual wishes to reside in Japan even if they were meant to go through a series of deportation procedures (investigation into violations by an immigration control officer, investigation into violations by an immigration officer, hearing by a special inquiry officer) and were judged by the Minister of Justice to be a person who should be deported.
Currently, there is a significant increase in the number of people seeking special permission to stay in Japan, and each of these cases are unique. Some require careful investigations or inspections of the individual's family situation. As such, a general statement about the length of time until a decision is finalized cannot be made.

Q34Isn't deportation inhumane treatment?

As of January 1, 2012 (Heisei 24), there were roughly 70,000 illegal residents in Japan. The majority of these were residents who were aware that illegal entry and overstay are a violation of the law and create deterioration of public order, making it a significant social issue in Japan. Deportation is a measure to ensure fair control of immigration, where certain foreign nationals who have been recognized as undesirable to Japanese society are deported from Japan in accordance with prescribed procedures, and as such is not inhumane treatment. Foreign nationals who have been recognized as undesirable to Japanese society and who must be deported from Japan will be listed in the law according to their reasons, and careful procedures will be established regarding the deportation procedures.

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