Student visa checklist
Step 1: Send an inquiry form
You will get free personalised advice and answers to any questions. Please do so or else you may miss important steps/deadlines.
□ 6 months before: Check that your passport won’t expire during your intended stay.
If so, please get it renewed by contacting the relevant authority.
□ 5 or more months before: Apply to school
Choose your favourite course from the options given, and complete the designated school application forms that will be provided to you!
Please complete all the steps given.
~After submission, please wait patiently for student visa to process. It generally takes 3 months to go through immigration and the school. Meanwhile, it is recommended to study basic Japanese phrases and learn hiragana + katakana (the Japanese alphabet), to help you adapt to Japan once there!~
□ 2 months before: Book accommodation
If chosen to organize yourself, please ensure you do this well in advance. If chosen for the school or us to organize, details will be sent approx. 3 weeks before the course starts.
□ Less than 1 month before: Obtain student visa
You will be sent relevant documents from the school to your current address in home country.
Please make an appointment to your local embassy or consulate of Japan in your home country and bring:
1. Certificate of Eligibility (Document sent to you by the school)
2. Another copy of the Certificate of Eligibility
3. Your passport
4. Coloured ID photo printed on photo paper of full face and plain background (taken within the last 3 months, different from passport photo)
5. Any other documents requested (check your local Japanese embassy’s website for any specific directions, as it depends on the region).
You will fill in an application form to get granted a student visa.
The process of switching the documents to a student visa will take approx. 3-15 days. Your passport will be handed in, so you will not be able to fly out the country.
This is why your flight should not be booked to arrive too early.
Once you obtain your student visa, please also bring your Certificate of Eligibility, as you will need it upon landing in Japan.
□ More than 3 weeks before arrival: Book flights and send flight number to Sayaka
The language school need to know this to organize your arrival.
It is recommended to arrive 1-2 days before schools starts, to fight off any jet-lag and settle in.
If you have ordered airport pickup or have school accommodation, please first confirm the date and time.
□ Opening a bank account
Most Japanese banking institutions will not allow opening a bank account unless you have resided in Japan for more than 6 months.
The easiest way to bring money to Japan is by opening an account in your home country at a foreign bank that has branches in Japan (such as Citibank), and withdraw the money at their branches.
It is highly recommended to bring a credit card from your home country (VISA and Mastercard are most common). You can then withdraw cash from ATMs found at convenience stores (found on nearly every street) in Japan.
You can ask staff at the school to help you with the procedures, during the first week (there will be an orientation on the first day explaining this).
□ About bringing money to Japan
Most chain shops and department stores accept credit cards; many smaller shops do not, so make sure to carry some cash. Checks are not used in Japan, and there are very large fees to cash a check at a bank.
Most bank ATMs now accept international ATM cards (VISA, MC, Cirrus, Plus, etc). HSBC and CitiBank do at all locations, as does the Post Office, so you can use these to take out money from your overseas account.
7-eleven ATMs (in convenience stores and at some train stations) often accept a wide range of cards.
Make sure to call your local bank that you are travelling to Japan, so they know it is you withdrawing and won’t disable your card.
At the airport:
□ Residence card
All new residents staying on a student visa are required to get a residence at the port of entry (airport) in Japan. The process is very simple and you will be able to complete through normal check in at the airport.
This is a form of ID and legally must be carried on you at all times while in Japan. It will be used for things such as getting a phone contract. Police officers may approach you to check your ID, although this is rare.
□ Transport in Japan
Public transport is world-famous in Japan, and is very reliable.
So that you do not need to buy a ticket every time you get on, it is recommended to get a rechargeable IC card that you just beep in and out of the station with. It can even be used for paying at vending machines and other shops, so is very convenient.
It is 500 yen deposit, which can be refunded if you return it once leaving Japan.
Further information and how to buy:
You can also get a commuter pass, to get a discount when travelling from home to school. Please inquire at the train attendant or school.
Most transportation in Japan shuts down around midnight, so be careful to get back to your accommodation before then. Confirm the time of the last bus or train in advance. You can check on Google Maps (not recommended to hold and walk around), or Hyperpedia.
Laws are different in Japan, and what may be legal in your country may be highly illegal here.
Students under 20 years of age are not legally allowed to smoke or drink in Japan. Students under 20 are required to obey these laws while in the country. Drug possession/use is quite rare, and is punished very harshly. If caught, you face months in jail (likely in solitary confinement) before your trial, then years after that in prison, or deportation to your home country, to prison there. Do not do drugs in Japan. In addition, smoking in the school itself is prohibited. Smoking cigarettes is only allowed in designated areas (not anywhere outside). They are clearly marked, e.g. smoking area sign, near train stations.
□ Notice of address
Within 14 days of arriving in Japan, you must go to the local town hall (Kuyakusho) in Japan to notify your address change. Please bring your passport, residence card, and address you will be living in (long-term; cannot register airbnbs or hostels). The new address will be entered into a database as well as printed on the back of the residence card.
At the same time, it is highly recommended to enroll for national health insurance (see below).
(Note: Please do not stress about the below before coming; you can ask the school staff once there).
National Health Insurance is compulsory for studying in Japan. It is approximately 1,800 JPY per month (depends on the previous year’s income, which in most cases is zero in Japan for students).
You will enroll at your local town hall, once you are in Japan.
Please bring your National Health Insurance (NHI) card that will be given to you, to any doctor or medical appointments. This way, you only need to pay 30% of your medical bill!
It is recommended to carry the card around; it is a form of ID.
Please see here for further information:
□ Permission to work
A permission to work; (“Permission to engage in activity other than that permitted”) is needed to work part-time on a student visa.
This can be obtained at the port of entry, or regional immigration office in Japan.
Please ensure you only work up to 28 hours a week; this is immigration law.
□ Mobile phone in Japan
This is possible to get with your residence card and Japanese bank account.
For long stays, we recommend buying your own phone. Prepaid cell phones are available from Softbank Mobile. You will need to show ID (for example, passport) to complete the contract, and minors cannot buy them.
You can also rent cell phones cheaply over the Internet, pay by credit card, and have them delivered to the airport or address in Japan.
Have a wonderful time, meet lots of new people and learn amazing Japanese, enjoy Japan!!
For any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask Sayaka. ^^/