The Student Visa (留学ビザ) is foreigners who want to come and study in Japan. This can be for any type of educational institution such as: university, high school, specialized school, language school, etc…
The periods of stay you can choose from are: 4 years and 3 months, 4 years, 3 years and 3 months, 3 years, 2 years and 3 months, 2 years, 1 year and 3 months, 1 year, 6 months, or 3 months.
It is possible that even though you are enrolled for a 2-year program that you only receive 1 year or even a 6 month renewable visa. This may be due to regulations from your school or the ministry.
The first thing you will have to do before submitting the documents is, of course, choosing which school you will go to study at. Sometimes it can be chosen for you if you’re an exchange student for example. Most educational institution have international partner institutions where students from a certain country (Japan in this instance) can go to your institution, and your institution’s student to the one in said country.
Note that depending on your country of origin it is possible to study for a short term (90 days or less) without a Student Visa, and in some cases even extend this for up to 20 weeks. Anything above that will require for the applicant to be over 18, have completed at least 12 years of education, and a Student Visa.
You also have more chances of being accepted if you have passed one of the JLPT tests, thus having proof that you have some kind of proficiency in Japanese.
What documents do you need?
Before you can submit documents at the Japanese Embassy, you will have to fill in every document from the school you’re applying at. These documents will vary from school to school but they will usually contain the following. Note that documents which have a “※※※” can be filled in by you or your sponsor. If one of these documents is filled by your sponsor, the sponsor will have to fill in all documents with a “※※※” mark.
1. The school’s application form
You will have to choose your course of choice, fill in basic information such as your name and address, write your educational background, and list your close family members. Depending on the school there may be separate forms for the above. Be specific and make sure that you write everything correctly. Note that school usually ask for the diploma (and possible translation) of the last school you graduated from.
2. Purpose of Studying Japanese letter
You will have a page-long letter to explain the reason why you want to learn Japanese. While it’s not necessary to fill the entirety of the page, you should write at least a few sentences to explain your motivations.
3. Physical examination
School will ask you to have a medical check in your country where the doctor need to fill in information about your: height, weight, vision, hearing, and blood pressure. You will also need to do a urinalysis and an x-ray of your chest. The x-ray is mostly to check whether you have tuberculosis or not.
4. A document about your Japanese proficiency
Schools will usually ask you to mark your proficiency in reading, listening, writing, and speaking Japanese in order to apply. You will still get tested for your Japanese in an interview when arriving in Japan.
5. A Letter of Guarantee.
This can be a parent for example. This letter is to accept responsibility for things such as the applicant’s expenses and cost of returning.
6. A Payment Agreement Letter ※※※
This letter is to agree to pay all the tuition fees and living expenses while in Japan. The person filling this letter can be the same person as for the Letter of Guarantee.
7. A copy of your passport and every page that has been used
Depending on the school you may have to print these out in color. If this is not specified make sure to ask. Check every page of your passport so that you do not miss any. Stamps from certain countries you have visited may have been pushed very lightly so make sure you don’t miss those.
8. A number of recent photos.
The number of photographs will depend from school to school. Some may ask 5, some may ask more.
9. Certificate of Current Employment ※※※
In case you or your sponsor are not employed but have their own company, a business permit copy or a copy of tax returns is also acceptable.
10. A copy of your bank account balance ※※※
This is necessary to prove that you have enough money to pay for the school tuition fees.
11. Annual Income Certificate ※※※
This document is necessary to prove that you or your sponsor make enough to provide for your stay and expenses in Japan as well as your return trip.
12. Documents explaining the relationship with the sponsor
If the sponsor is a family member, a family register will do. If the sponsor is not a relative make sure to write in detail your relationship with them.
Once you have submitted all the necessary documents to your school, they will send the documents to the Immigration Office. If your application was successful, the school will receive a Certificate of Eligibility, which they will send to you after you paid the school fees. When you receive this certificate, you will have to apply for a Student Visa to the Japanese Embassy in your country with the following documents:
1. A valid passport
2. A recent photo (two for Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia nationals)
3. One visa application form (two for Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia nationals)
4. The original Certificate of Eligibility and a copy
5. A Letter of Guarantee
If everything goes well you should receive your visa after a few weeks.
Note that in most cases your deadline to submit documents for any given school is 5~6 months. If you don’t make it in time you will have to wait and apply for the next school term. Because there are many documents to gather, it is best to start filling in and submit the documents as soon as possible.