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How to change your student visa to stay in Japan

If you are currently studying at a language school in Japan and want to either continue your studies or you want to start working full time, you will need to change the status of your visa.

If you are currently studying at a language school in Japan, it might be just your first step.  You can either continue your studies at a trade school or university, or you want to start working full time in Japan.  Either way, you will need to change the status of your visa.

Fortunately it’s not too complicated!  If you follow the steps outlined below you should have no problem continuing your life in Japan.

Step 1

Changing from a language school student visa to a different student visa

If you’re planning to continue study in Japan, then you will have to change your student visa. Despite being the same student visa in name, there are actually different classes of visas each with their own restrictions, with university being the “strongest”.

You can apply for this change yourself, although your current school should be able to help you and in many cases can submit the application for you.

To change your student visa to another school you will need the following documents:

From your current school:

  • Current school attendance record
  • Transcript of your grades
  • Certificate of planned graduation

From your new school:

  • Certificate of admission (NOT notification of admission)
  • Pages 4 and 5 of the visa application form (don’t worry, the school will know what to give you)

Prepare yourself:

  • Copy of your Residence card (front and back)
  • Copy of your Passport (main page and current work permit stamp)
  • Money (immigration charges 4000yen, if your school is going to submit your application for you then they might also charge a fee for that).

If you are going to a trade school (senmon gakko), you may need to submit the following:

  • Copy of your bank book showing the current balance
  • If you have had money sent to you via bank transfers, you need copies of the transfer receipts
  • If you had gone home and brought large amounts of cash with you, you will need to submit copies of the entry and exit stamps in your passport of those trips

Your school will be able to tell you if you need to submit these or not.

Do be aware that if your attendance is not very good at your school, you may be denied the visa. This is out of the hands of the school to decide, if immigration thinks that you’ll be a bad student at your next school, they won’t give you a chance and there will be no way to appeal the decision. Do make sure to have good attendance at your school!

Step 2

Changing from a student visa to a working visa

The documents you will need depend on the visa class you want to change to, but for the most part all of the needed documentation will be handled by your new company.  They may ask you for some specific documents from your school, so just do what they say!

Step 3

Changing from a student visa to a tourist visa

If your studies have finished but want to remain in Japan for a little longer, your best option is to convert it to a tourist visa. To do this, simply go to the immigration office and tell them that you want to do this. They will require a reason, but saying something like you want to travel around Japan before going home should be satisfactory. They’ll cancel your old visa, punch a hole through your residence card, put the new visa in your passport, and you’ll be all set!

After you change your visa, make sure to contact your old school and let them know! They need to confirm that you have changed your visa for their records. They may ask you to send them a picture of your new visa, so please comply with any requests they may have.