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Japan's Visa System is Going Digital

Foreign residents might not have to dread visa renewal time

By Serena Ogawa    - 2 min read

Has any foreign resident in Japan ever enjoyed the process of renewing their visa? Even after getting the proper documentation and photographs taken, there comes the dreaded trip to the immigration office, standing in lines, and hours of waiting for your number to be called.

Well, hopefully, that process will become a thing of the past as soon as April 2021. Nikkei reports that foreign residents in Japan will be able to extend, renew, or change the visa online via their computer or smartphone with the Japan eVisa system. This announcement comes on the heels of an address from PM Suga about a digital agency from the Japanese government that will focus on digitizing many of the paperwork policies of Japan.

The Justice Ministry put aside 1.25 billion yen (11.5 million USD) to improve the system to cut back on wait times. Hopeful foreign residents will be required to enter their residence card number and other additional steps—that have yet to be revealed.

This new system will help those who have changed statuses; such as students who have become employees or foreign residents who become spouses of Japanese nationals. Ideally, required documentation will also become automated rather than requiring multiple trips to city and ward offices.

There are many benefits to this new system, especially amid the ongoing situation with coronavirus. Fewer human interactions mean less chance of COVID-19 being spread. Although the current visa system does allow some businesses to apply for employee visas directly online, it's a limited system.

There is some doubt as to how successful the system will be. Japan doesn’t exactly have a great history of making paperwork easier—it will be interesting to see how the foreign residency system changes to support more up-to-date technology.

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Serena Ogawa

Serena Ogawa @serena.ogawa

Travel Editor for Japan Travel by day, novel-writing cat lady by night.

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Sherilyn Siy 3 weeks ago
A huge relief. Heaven knows how many hours I've wasted waiting.
Kim 3 weeks ago
This is super encouraging! The wait times at some immigration offices are painfully long.