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Documents Needed to Apply for a Student Visa

As one may expect, in order to apply for a student visa in Japan, a number of official documents are required. We’re here to help you understand what you need!

If you apply through the GaijinPot Student Placement Program, we will work with you on an individual basis and make sure all of your documents are in perfect order.

NOTE:

This article assumes that you are applying for the first time. If you have applied for a visa before but were rejected, the list of documents to reapply is much larger. The school you want to which you want to apply will need to know this so they can prepare the proper documentation for you.

Documents you need to apply for a student visa in Japan

  1. Application form
  2. Passport-size photo
  3. Passport copy
  4. School diploma
  5. School transcripts
  6. Proof of Japanese study (if applicable)
  7. Proof of sponsor’s employment
  8. Proof of sponsor’s income
  9. Sponsor’s bank balance

Seems easy enough, right? In this article we will break down exactly what you need to do for each document.

Application form

Once you contact us through the GaijinPot Study page we will send you the school application form and you can just type it out on the computer and send it back.  The application form will ask for your personal information, including educational and work history, family information, and your reason for study in Japan.  You will have to write the address of your previous schools and workplaces, and the dates that you joined and left.

The application form will also have a space for “occupation”.  If you are not currently working or a student, just write down “preparing to study in Japan.” Also, there is a section for previous Japanese study.  If you have only studied on your own, just write down “self-study.”

Photo

You will need to take a passport-style photo on a plain background that is 3-centimeters wide  by 4-centimeters high. Do not wear any hats or other clothing that covers your head (unless it is for religious reasons). Also, the government recommends that you remove your glasses and not smile for the photo.

The photo should be no older than three months and should not be the same photo that is used on any other kind of ID, such as your passport picture. If you can provide a high-resolution digital photo, that would also be fine.

Passport copy

We will need a scanned copy of the main page of your passport and if you have been to Japan in the past, you should also include copies of your previous entry and exit stamps.

If you don’t have a passport, don’t worry!  You don’t need one at the time of application but you will need one before you actually leave for Japan. In the meantime, you can send a copy of any kind of official government ID instead.

School diploma

You will need to send the official diploma from the last school you graduated from. Technically, immigration does not have any minimum age or graduation requirements, but many of the schools do.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you haven’t graduated from university, you will not be able to get a working visa in Japan as the minimum education requirement for a work visa is a bachelor’s degree. Even if you graduate from a language school, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree you won’t be able to get a work visa.

If your goal is to stay and work in Japan you should consider finishing university in your home country or continuing with higher education here in Japan.

School transcripts

You will need to provide a full transcript from the last school from which you graduated. Printouts of online transcripts are also usually fine.

Proof of Japanese study

If you have formally studied Japanese in the past, then you’ll want to provide some sort of proof of that. Usually, a course completion certificate or a letter from the school is sufficient. Also, if you have ever passed a Japanese level test like the JLPT or NAT tests, you should provide a copy of the results.

Sponsorship

Before moving on to the financial documents, we should explain sponsorship. In order to study in Japan, someone has to sponsor you. Although most students work part-time jobs, in theory a sponsor should be able to financially cover the student during their stay in Japan.

There are two sponsorship options:

  • Have a family member sponsor you
    • This is the easiest option as immigration will know that the relationship is strong and that they won’t hesitate to help you out. In theory, it’s possible for anyone to be a sponsor, but for a non-family member there is a tremendous amount of paperwork needed and even then it’s not a sure thing.
  • Be a self-sponsor
    • The financial requirements are stricter for this as you have to show that you have enough savings to cover the school tuition and life expenses for the duration of your study.

In order to qualify as a sponsor, the designated person (whether someone else or yourself) will need to be able to demonstrate that they will have a certain amount of money in their bank account for the duration of your studies. This is broken down according to the length of student visa:

  • For a 1-year visa, the minimum amount needed would be 2.5 million yen (savings or annual income through earnings)
  • For a 6-month visa, the minimum amount needed would be 1.5 million yen (savings or annual income through earnings)

No matter which sponsorship option you choose the documentation will be the same.

Passport copy

Same as the applicant, the sponsor should submit a copy of their main passport page or some sort of official government ID.

Proof of employment

Something that shows that they are currently employed and their position in the company. The best is to have an official letter made out on the company’s letterhead.

Salary information

This can be included in the proof of employment or separate. Pay stubs or tax forms are also acceptable. Immigration is only interested in the annual income, but you can submit monthly salary information and it will be multiplied by 12 to reach the annual income.

Sponsor’s bank balance

Most banks will create a letter showing a current account balance. Some schools will also accept printouts of online bank balances.

Does your sponsor live in Japan?

If the sponsor lives in Japan, they will need to submit the following from the ward or city office:

  • Proof of residency (住民票, or jyuuminhyou)
  • Proof of the last three years worth of tax payments, both national and local.
  • Family registry, if they are married to a Japanese national.
  • Copy of residence card

That should cover all the important stuff. Individual schools may or may not have additional requirements, however. It’s always best to ask right away what they want or to use the GaijinPot Student Placement Service to make things as easy as possible.