Japan's New Work Visa System

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Posted on June 30, 2010 at 3:06 PM


Starting in July 2012, as part of an effort to overhaul its immigration system, Japan will abolish the Alien Registration Act. In its place, the amended Immigration Act will manage the corresponding issues and information of the Alien Registration System for foreigners working in Japan. Though the new law has been passed by the Diet and is scheduled for immediate implementation to be administered by the Ministry of Justice, many applications of its details remain undetermined.

However, there are clear innovations in Japan’s new work-visa system. For example, a new “Residence Card,” which displays fewer details than the current alien registration card, but requires exhibiting details like the name and address of one’s employer, will be introduced. This new card will essentially replace the “status of residence” stamp in passports, and be utilized as a form of ID card containing an IC chip. Another alteration in the new legislation is the extension of maximum visa stay periods from three years to five years for more visa categories. Finally, exemptions from requiring a “Re-Entry Permit” if individuals are outside of Japan for less than twelve months will be summarily granted in the new system. However, should an individual leave Japan for more than a twelve-month period, their residence status will be automatically revoked regardless of the explanation.

Overall, there will be a three-year grace period for individuals to change old alien registration cards to the new “Residence Card” once the new system gets implemented. Yet, it is important to note that once the new system becomes operational, complete with the abolition of the Alien Registration Act, an alien registration card created by that Act will be treated the same as a new “Residence Card” in terms of Japan’s immigration law.

Please visit the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s website for further information (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/index.html).


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