Visa and Immigration Procedures
Although many students work part-time to finance their studies, for immigration requirements, we need a financial sponsor. Since a person is coming as a student, they should be able to pay tuition and daily expenses without working.
If you come via the GaijinPot Student Placement Service, we’ll help you find a job to finance your stay in Japan, but a sponsor is still needed to make immigration happy!
Having Someone Sponsor You
First off, the best sponsor is a family member, no question. In immigration’s eyes, they are the most reliable and will help you out if you get into trouble. The closer to you the better, but it’s also possible to have it be a bit more distant, such as an aunt/uncle or cousin. Farther than that will make things more complicated.
We really don’t recommend having any non-family member be a sponsor. It doesn’t matter how close you may be or how rich they are. It could be your best friend, mentor, fiancee, it’s all the same to immigration! In their eyes, you could get into an argument, damage your relationship, and cut off the financial arrangement.
Do be aware that immigration doesn’t know where the money comes from. The sponsor is just a backup, and it’s unlikely that the government will contact them.
Requirements for Sponsorship
There are just three requirements:
- Be employed with a stable job.
- Have a good yearly salary (typically around ¥2M is safe).
- Have a bank balance of at least ¥2M.
Additionally, the sponsor will need to provide the following documents:
- A signed letter: states the relationship between the applicant and sponsor and the reason for sponsorship. The school will give this to you.
- Employment information: Information such as their job title.
- Proof of annual salary: This can be a letter from the company, a payslip, tax forms (recommended) or any official document.
- Current bank balance: Either a statement from the bank or a printout from online banking. Schools like it when you can have this document stamped by the bank.
- Proof of relationship: Some countries have a document that lists all family members. If your country doesn’t provide it, we usually recommend birth certificates.
Note that some schools may require additional documents.
For the bank balance, this needs to be cash available to withdraw. You cannot use investment balances, a pension or credit card limits. If the sponsor is living on a pension, dividends, disability or retirement income, it’s still possible to sponsor—but you’ll need proof of those payments.
If Your Sponsor Lives in Japan
Some people may have family members who live in Japan and want to sponsor them. In that case, the following additional documents are needed:
- Copy of residence card
- Proof of residence (jyuminhyo in Japanese)
- Proof of the last three years worth of tax payments (this document will also be proof of annual salary)
- Family registry (if the person is married to a Japanese citizen)
They should also be prepared to submit other documents, such as proof of health insurance and pension payments.
Challenges for sponsors in Japan
The biggest challenge with having a sponsor in Japan is that the financial requirements are much higher. Immigration has a better idea about life in Japan and will be much stricter on what is needed. They also keep track of dependents, so if your sponsor is married or has children, immigration will know and factor that into the financial requirements. In our experience, a sponsor should have an annual salary of ¥2.5M for each dependent, including themselves and the applicant.
Everything will be calculated based on the income submitted for tax purposes. If, for example, a sponsor owns a profitable business but has a lot of deductions that lower their overall income for tax reasons or is cash-based and unreported, immigration will only look at that final number. If the three years of submitted tax documents have income that changes greatly from one year to the next, this will also count against them. If possible, we do not recommend using a sponsor living in Japan, especially if they have a family here!
If one sponsor does not have enough money, it is possible to add another in some cases. Each person needs to submit the necessary documents. Some schools will not want to deal with multiple sponsors, which may restrict your options and should be avoided. It is not possible to have a third sponsor.
It is possible to “sponsor yourself.” In that case, all those sponsorship documents must be in your name. Financial requirements are a bit higher, however. Since immigration will assume that you will not work as a student, your savings will have to be high enough to cover everything.
You should also be employed so that they know you’re not just burning through your savings while waiting, although if you have a bank account balance that is higher than the minimum, then it might be acceptable. They mostly just want to see that you will have enough money to both live in Japan and survive until coming here.
Good luck! Of course, if you have any questions, our GaijinPot Student Placement Service will work with you through every step and make sure your sponsor-related documents are perfect!
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