Do you have a working holiday visa from Canada? If you want to stay in Japan for 1 year, then you have to renew it at the 6 month mark. Yes, this sucks, but it has to be done. You know what sucks more? Going to the Visa / Immigration office in Tokyo.
Step 1 – Fill Out The Forms
You can get the forms here. Print them out at a 711, fill it in.
Step 2 – Get a Photo Of Yourself
Luckily in Tokyo, this is quite easy. If you’ve lived here for a while, you’ll notice really weird “passport” machines. They look like the one below. They’re super easy to use, and cost like 1000 Yen.
Step 3 – Plan Your Renewal
In theory, if you wanted to maximize your stay in Japan, then you need to apply for the visa literally the day before it expires. You will then be granted this “2-week temp visa“, while they process your visa. (For the record, I applied for my visa 2 weeks before it expired, cause I didn’t want to roll the dice). During this time you lose your actual residence card. I didn’t travel outside of Japan during this time, and I don’t recommend you do in case anything goes wrong. On the day you actually do go, remember to bring your passport, forms and residence card.
Step 4 – Hate Yourself for a day
The day of renewing sucks. The immigration office is at Shinagawa station, which is busy, but not really the main problem. Once you get off the train, head towards the bus area and there will be clearly marked signs for the buses that go to the immigration office. There’s a lot of buses that go there, and it’s only like a 5 minute ride. But the next part is the most important. Get there at 8am.
Oh but Carson, I just checked google it opens at 9am. Thanks captain obvious. Get there at 8am. If you want guaranteed victory, go there at 7:30am and just sit in front of the door. The thing about the immigration office is that everyone and their mother with any type of visa application come here. Students, Working Holiday Visas, Extensions, Other Immigration Problems. The universe comes here. And (2), there is really no separation of lines. So you want to be at the front of the line and guess what, this whole process is still going to take an hour.
Once you’re in, you have to find which line you’re going to. For working holiday visa holders (at least at the time of writing this document), go to the second floor, and head to the giant star. These workers will check your document to make sure you have everything, and then hand you a number so that someone can actually process your visa extension/application. If you want to play it safe, there is an information desk on the first floor that you can verify with before you go to your line. If you’re one of the first people, you can go ahead and do this, since going to the wrong line will be the end of the world.
After that, you basically did it. The person goes over your application, and then mails you a notification for pick up within 2 weeks. Go back, go to the right line, and get your visa. The key for the second visit is to also go early, because when you go to line “A”, much like going to the starred line, it’s just to tell the person you’re there / get your stuff checked. You then get handed a number for your real line and then have your application get processed.
If you come here after 9am, it’s a 3 hour wait. This is confirmed to be true, because even though I was warned, it happened to me. Fun fact, I actually had to come to the office 3 times, because I strolled in on a happy day at 3pm thinking it would be empty. I was turned away.
Tip: You DO NOT need to get the “stamp” to pay for your visa application until you actually go pick it up during the second visit. The stamp you purchase at the Family Mart that is inside the immigration office. So to optimize; on day 1, line up early, go submit your application. Go to the family mart when you’re leaving, get the stamps, then you’ll have it ready for the second visit.
- Download, print, fill out forms
- Have pictures of yourself
- Get to the immigration office in Shinagawa at 8am
- Run to the line like your life depends on it
- Get the “stamps” on the way out at Family Mart, inside the immigration office
- Go home, wait 2 weeks
- Return to the immigration office at 8am when you are summoned
- Get out, and drink your sorrows away
Why I Hate The Office
- The fact that I have to take the bus to get there after the station is frustrating, Shinagawa is far enough.
- On your first visit, it’s annoying that all documents regardless of visa type (so it seems), get checked all in the same line. This creates an incredibly stupid bottleneck
- On your second visit, the same problem exists because you have to one line to tell the person you’re there, and then get a ticket to just pick up your visa (which supposedly, is all approved)
- There should be just a pickup zone where you get your completed/approved items. Knowing Japan, this should be in the form of a vending machine.
- The fact that I have to get the stamps from Family mart is stupid. This should be a vending machine.
- Shinagawa sucks