Immigration Bureau

 The Immigration Bureau is responsible for the administration of immigration affairs which include the clearing of foreign and Japanese nationals entering and leaving Japan, the handling of the status of residence of foreigners in Japan, and also matters concerning deportation, recognition of refugee status as well as registration of foreign residents.

Control of Japanese and Foreign Nationals Entering and Leaving Japan

 Immigration control in Japan is conducted in accordance with the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and the Alien Registration Law and, by ensuring equitable control over all persons entering and leaving Japan, it contributes to the safety and advancement of society in Japan.

 Foreign nationals entering or leaving Japan are subject to landing and exit clearance by immigration inspectors at airports or seaports. An inspection is carried out to see whether the foreign national who wishes to enter meets all the requirements for landing, and if the foreign national does not meet the requirements then he or she will be forced to leave Japan. However, a foreign national who stays unlawfully in Japan may, in cases where the national satisfies specified requirements, leave Japan through a simplified procedure, in accordance with a departure order.

 If foreign nationals are to be permitted to land they must have their status of residence and the period of stay in Japan fixed by the inspector. In the case of foreign nationals who wish to alter their status or stay longer than the period fixed at the beginning, they must obtain permission from the local immigration office in the area where they reside. In the case of a foreign national coming under any one of the grounds for deportation such as overstaying beyond the given permission or committing a crime, deportation procedures will be taken to compel the foreign national to leave Japan.

 Japan has also implemented a system granting temporary shelter to foreign nationals who seek such shelter because they are being persecuted in their country for reasons of political beliefs or suchlike.

 A foreign national is required to file an application for alien registration within 90 days of entering Japan, and a foreign national born in Japan or a foreign national who is relinquishing Japanese citizenship is required to file an application within 60 days of that day. This procedure is also handled by the Immigration Bureau.


 With the recent increase in the number of foreign nationals coming to Japan, the diversified activities of the foreign nationals have affected the life of Japanese citizens and the economy. In order to analyze this overall effect and clearly define the basic policies on immigration control, the Immigration Bureau has established basic immigration guidelines, embarking on suitable immigration control.


 At the time of entry into and departure from Japan, foreign and Japanese nationals are subject to landing and exit clearance by immigration inspectors at airports and seaports. When a foreign national enters Japan, the immigration inspector inspects the passport and the visa stamped in it and verifies their validity, and after confirming that the national does not fall under any one of the items of denial of landing as provided for by law, proceeds to 1) check whether or not the stated purpose of entry into Japan falls under any one of the statuses of residence as prescribed by law, and 2) in the case of the stated purpose of entry falling under one of the statuses of residence, checks whether or not the required standards as provided for in the Minister of Justice ordinance have been met.

Since November 20, 2007, the new immigration procedures requiring foreign nationals to submit their fingerprints and a facial photograph at Immigration Control have been in effect in order to prevent terrorists from entering Japan.


 Foreign nationals permitted to enter and reside in Japan are, as a general rule, required to engage in activities pursuant to the specific period of stay as determined by the immigration inspector upon landing at the port of entry.

 When such foreign residents wish to change their status of residence after entry, to extend their period of stay or to obtain permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the previously granted status of residence or the re-entry permit, they are required to submit due applications for such changes to the regional immigration bureau nearest to their residence in Japan. Then the district immigration office concerned, after examining the application filed by such foreign residents, decides whether or not to approve the changes.

 The system of status of residence and period of stay in Japan is designed to guarantee the rights of foreign nationals with regard to their community life in Japan, and to ensure fair and equitable supervision over such foreign nationals in Japan, thereby contributing to the well-being of our nation.


 The following nationals are subject to deportation in accordance with procedures provided for by law : foreign nationals who have landed in or entered Japan illegally, nationals who are illegally overstaying the authorized period of stay in Japan, those engaged in any activity other than that permitted under the status of residence, those foreign nationals who have been sentenced to a punishment for violation of any Japanese laws or regulations while staying in Japan and other nationals who are found to be unsuitable.

Number of foreign nationals entering Japan/Number of Japanese nationals leaving Japan

Registration of Foreign Residents

 Under the system of alien registration administered by the immigration services, all foreign residents in Japan are required to appear in person and register themselves at the municipal office of the city, ward, town or village in which they are residing. This system is designed to ensure fair and equitable control over foreign residents in Japan by clarifying matters pertaining to their residence and status.

Number of foreign nationals registered (Dec.2006) , Trend of the total Number of foreign residents registered

Recognition of Refugee Status

 The Government of Japan acceded to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in October 1981 and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in January 1982. As a result of which, various measures to ensure the protection of refugees as provided for in the treaties are being carried out.

 Granting of landing permission for temporary refuge,examination of whether or not a foreign national who has applied for refugee status falls within the definition of a refugee as defined by the treaties and issuance of refugee travel documents to those recognized as such are handled by the immigration services.

For Application for Recognition of Refugee Status, CLICK HERE
For A Guide to the Procedure for Recognition of Refugee Status, CLICK HERE