Friday, 27 June 2014

How To Renew Your Student Visa

Time is definitely flying past me. And one way time slapped me in the face to let me know that this is my third year in Japan (so fast? I still feel like I just came!) was by having my visa come close to expiring.

If you've been following this blog (hello! Thank you!), you should know that I've been driven to tears in my attempt to renew my visa. So, to help all you awesome kouhai's out there, I'll be sharing with you my mistakes so that your visa renewal application (when you have to apply). is much smoother.

Mistake #1: Applying at the wrong time. 

I actually tried to renew my visa in... March. Yeah March. I wanted to get a new handphone, since my current one is giving my loads of problems, but Softbank refused to sell me a phone unless I had more than 2 years on my visa. <- This is a whole 'nother topic for another post.

But then, I found out: You can only apply to renew your visa three months before your visa expires.

Mistake #2: Not informing the school

I basically made a lot of wasted trips to the immigration office. There was that one time where I went too early, and the other time where I went there and found out I needed the school to stamp on a few documents for me. And that's when I realised - I really need to inform the school.

Digression: I don't actually mind the wasted trips because the immigration is at the airport, which is less than half an hour from my house. And I like airports anyway. For you Tokyo people, you don't need to go to Haneda or Narita (thankfully), I heard that the offices there are in Tachikawa and Shinagawa.

What you need to bring to the school:
- 1 Photo (taken within 6 months)
- Your student card (学生証)
- Passport
- Gaijin card

*Note: This may vary from school to school, so do go and ask*

You'll have to go to the International Student counter to apply. Remember, it may take a few days, so don't leave this to the last minute.
You probably have a place like this in your school. 

Other things I needed to get at school on my own were the certificate of enrollment (在学証明書) and academic transcripts (成績証明書)
Look at them, all official looking. 

If you're at Kyudai, you can do that automatically at these machines in the office:

I find it super cool! All you need is your gakuseishou. 
By the way, my school actually left out one section, which meant the office had to mail back the application form, I had to refill it in, and submit it again. So, check to make sure things like dates are all filled in.

What to bring (my mistake: not having the appropriate stuff)

Actually, those were my two biggest mistakes. They were annoying, so be sure you avoid them and you'll be find.

Now, for the application process itself.

The application process actually took less than an hour. I arrived about 1 hour 10 minutes after office opened on a Thursday (you may want to go on a Weekday that isn't Friday to avoid the crowds). All I had to do was to submit the forms and write my address on a postcard that will inform me of the results.

The results are supposed to come within two weeks (assuming that there are no problems).

And once the results come, well, congrats! But don't forget to bring the following four things:


1. Passport (also see item 4 of the picture, my application receipt was stapled in my passport, so I'm treating them as one item)

2. Gaijin card.

3. Revenue stamp.

Wait, what's a revenue stamp? What kind of stamp costs 4000 yen?

Top right: Revenue stamp
I saw the word stamp, so I merrily went to the post office to get it. For reference, the revenue stamp is called 収入印紙 (shuunyuuinshi). I actually didn't know what it was called, since my card was in English, so the post office people had to bring out their dictionary to check :p

I read online that you can buy them at Post Offices (which I can confirm), the immigration bureau (probable, since the lady there asked me if I needed a stamp - either that or it's somewhere close) and certain convenience stores (I have no idea about it, so if anyone knows, please tell me so I can update this post).

All I needed to do was bring the four items above to the immigration department, wait a while, and voila, a renewed visa!

Reference/Extra Information:
English guide by the immigration department. 
Immigration office:
Fukuoka - Fukuoka Airport. Check the opening hours here. 
More about Revenue Stamps