If an applicant wishes to work, study, or live in Japan, he/she should in principle first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. The Certificate of Eligibility is issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan. To obtain a Certificate of Eligibility, the applicant must ask a sponsor in Japan (an employer, spouse, school, etc.) to contact the local immigration office and make an application on his/her behalf. When the applicant is outside Japan, the application must be made by a sponsor in Japan. It cannot be made by the applicant himself. In very limited cases, however, when the applicant resides in Japan and is prepared to leave the country to apply for a visa, it might be possible for the applicant to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility himself/herself at local immigration office in Japan.
Once a Certificate of Eligibility has been obtained, the applicant should bring in his/her passport, one filled in and signed Visa Application Form together with one passport-sized photograph. The applicant should also bring the Japanese sponsor’s name, address and phone number, as well as the original Certificate of Eligibility. In the case of applicants who are applying for visas to work in Japan as dancers, the applicant should also bring a copy of the contract between the applicant and the Japanese organisation, a curriculum vitae, and information regarding the venue in Japan (either a brochure or a floor plan).
Please note that Certificates of Eligibility expire after three months. An applicant must obtain his/her visa and arrive in Japan within three months of the issue date of the Certificate of Eligibility. If an applicant has not traveled to Japan before the expiry date, then a new Certificate of Eligibility must be obtained before applying for the visa and travelling to Japan.
Please note that even though an obtained Certificate of Eligibility decreases the time to issue a visa at the embassy, the time needed to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility itself use to be as much as one to three months. Therefore, please make sure that your sponsor in Japan applies for a Certificate of Eligibility well in time before you intend to travel to Japan.
A Certificate of Eligibility is not a visa. You must apply for a visa with your Certificate of Eligibility at a Japanese embassy or consulate before you travel to Japan.