What is a Certificate of Eligibility?
A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, is a document you need to apply if you intend to apply for certain types of visa such as a working visa, student visa, or spouse visa among others. This document is issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan, and it has to be requested by a person or entity within Japan. Students will have their school apply for the certificate, and worker will have their company apply for the certificate.
In case you cannot apply for a Certificate of Eligibility in Japan, contact the Japanese Embassy in your country for further information. For example if you are the spouse of a Japanese national, and both of you do not reside in Japan and have no way of getting a COE directly from Japan.
Usually it takes about three (3) months to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility, which is why you need to apply for it well in advance. Beware that receiving it does not mean that your visa application will be accepted. It is simply a necessary document that proves that you are eligible to request a visa application.
How to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility?
You will need the following documents:
1. One (1) application form
2. One (1) recent photo
3. One (1) return-mail envelope affixed with stamp(s) worth 392 for the recorded delivery purpose
4. One (1) copy of supporting documents (see here). The necessary documents will depend on the type of visa you want to apply for.
5. One (1) document that proves the status (if someone else, such as an agent, submits the application form on your behalf)
Note that all documents submitted will not be returned. If you need certain original copies of documents back, make sure to notify the Immigration Bureau when you file your application. Also note that your application form should be printed on an A4 format.
Depending on the type of visa, you may also need a Letter of Guarantee with your supporting documents.