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Tips and tricks for an easier visit to the Tokyo Immigration Office

26 Comments
By Aaron Baggett

Life in Tokyo is great. With a mix of modern, fast-paced life and traditional Japanese culture, Japan is a popular city to make a new home. However, living in Japan has a dreaded caveat that every foreigner must experience: visiting the immigration office — notorious for its bureaucratic processes and long queues.

Unless you’re blessed with being able to visit the alternative immigration office in Tachikawa, you will likely have to visit the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa multiple times during your stay in Tokyo to renew your visa or change your status. However, with some preparation and insider tips, you can make your visits to the immigration office smoother and, at the very least, more tolerable.

Why The Bad Reputation?

While some criticisms could be exaggerated, there are legitimate reasons to loathe the

Language Barrier

Despite Japan being a G20 nation with nearly 600,000 foreign nationals living in Tokyo alone, it ranks 87th (out of 100) on the world English Proficiency Index — lower than China, South Korea, and Vietnam. This is painfully reflected at the immigration office, arguably the most crucial place in the city where English services are needed for navigating documentation, complying with immigration laws and ensuring a seamless experience for non-Japanese speakers.

Location and Accessibility

While Shinagawa is a major transportation hub, the immigration office is far from the station. The long walk or bus ride can be inconvenient, especially for those with mobility issues.

Wait Time

Visitors often find the extended wait times, two to five hours, frustrating. This delay in a seemingly straightforward process of handing over a document and receiving a new one is likely due to the large number of people seeking immigration services, language barriers and limited staff to manage the workload.

Japanese Bureaucracy

Japanese immigration bureaucracy’s meticulous document verification and coordination between agencies, such as the immigration office and local municipal government, often result in delays; strict compliance requirements and the intricacies of navigating diverse visa categories compound challenges, particularly for non-Japanese speakers dealing with limited English language support.

The Detention Center is hell

While the first two floors resemble a typical bureaucratic and gloomy office setting, the upper floors house individuals detained for overstaying visas, with some seeking refugee status or reluctant to return home. Disturbingly, stories of extended detention periods, mental abuse, hunger strikes, and, tragically, instances of death, such as at the Nagoya Regional Immigration office, add to the gravity of the situation.

Time Your Visit Right

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Not even a comment about the possibility of scheduling your visit beforehand or even do the paperwork online? that would be much more useful information than what is included in the article.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

[ Despite Japan being a G20 nation with nearly 600,000 foreign nationals living in Tokyo alone, it ranks 87th (out of 100) on the world English Proficiency Index — lower than China, South Korea, and Vietnam. This is painfully reflected at the immigration office, arguably the most crucial place in the city where English services are needed for navigating documentation, complying with immigration laws and ensuring a seamless experience for non-Japanese speakers. ]

I remember being there and hearing an old guy calling someone’s number in JAPANESE, five, ten, fifteen times…; I thought: well, maybe they went to the toilet or busy with something else…, but then he started calling another number… five, ten, fifteen times—and then he went on to the next number—no one was coming—but he didn’t give up—he kept doing the same thing over and over again…; I remember I wanted to go to him and say “Excuse me, sir, no one’s answering because you’re speaking in JAPANESE and they probably don’t understand” but nah, I just kept checking my cellphone and thinking how ridiculous that situation was.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@rcch I think living in Japan and not knowing Japanese numbers is even more ridiculous!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

mountainpearToday  11:34 am JST

Hm, assuming that everyone there has been living in Japan for some time that they would be able to understand an old guy speaking in Japanese is even more ridiculous.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

for a country that pushes English education so hard you'd think that essential services would have standardized language support for English. that would be sensible, right?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Best tip, bring all the documents, cards, and paperwork you will and maybe need.

organize your stuff. If your renewing something have the documents, cards to be replaced etc all together with a paperclip or in a clear file for the staff.

If you have any questions practice how to say it in Japanese if the clerk isn’t trained in your language.

there basically isn’t any particular off time for these places sadly. ASAP in the morning or right after lunch seem to be the best times I’ve gone with 0 lines. But morning especially fills up quick.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I go from time to time. It is a humbling experience to line up but still better than the US. When my wife had to visit the INS in the US you better get there early and the line was outside in the blazing sun.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A couple of years back when I went to the immigration office in Himeji Port, I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. It took longer to travel there than the time in the office.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"...Japan is a popular city to make a new home."

And yet, Japan is not a city...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You need a permanent residence visa. Never need to darken the imm office again.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

even do the paperwork online?

Renewing Your Visa In-person and Online in Japan

https://blog.gaijinpot.com/renewing-your-visa-in-person-and-online-in-japan/

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Resident Cards are renewed every 7 years at the immigration office. You also have to renew the My Number Card which is only valid for 5 years.

Confusing?

Year 1 Renew Residents Card and My Number.

Year 5 Renew My Number

Year 7 Renew Residents Card and My Number.

Two trips to immigration and three to the local government office.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Any foreigner staying for more than 90 days in the country must have a resident card, (“Zairyu Card”) issued by immigration.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Never had any rigmarole with Japanese immigration or the related acquisition of documents in my life.

The Japanese for zairyu card is 在留カード

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Over the years on JT, there have been many articles on the immigration offices and the lengthy wait for visa and resident card renewals.

Even the current article is about that.

In the last city, Kobe it could about 1-3 hours for renewals.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Took me no time at all, last time I was there in Tachikawa. When? I can't remember.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Took me no time at all, last time I was there in Tachikawa. When? I can't remember.

How long did it take to renew your resident card at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau Tachikawa Branch Office?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Over the years on JT, there have been many articles on the immigration offices and the lengthy wait for visa and resident card renewals.

Nice.

Even the current article is about that.

That's why I'm here.

In the last city, Kobe it could about 1-3 hours for renewals.

Or longer, depending on what one had for lunch. Or if you get there right before their lunch. Then you might be in for a longer haul.

Never say never!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I have PR for more than 20 years so at least I don't have to bother renewing visas.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Elvis is here

How long did it take to renew your resident card at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau Tachikawa Branch Office?

> What's it to you?

It is useful info for those who live in Tokyo.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If you lose you PR card, you'll be back down the road quicker than a ferret down a drainpipe! Don't forget your police report.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

On the occasion of applying for my PR at the Nagano City Immigration Office, it took several weeks to prepare the documents for my submission and a whole day at the office dealing with it.

I think I paid about ¥6000 for it. Today, it's about ¥8,000.

But private legal companies are charging ¥200,000 or more.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How long was the wait to hear if your application for permanent residency had be accepted or otherwise rejected?

But private legal companies are charging ¥200,000 or more.

That's a rip off. I know places that undercuts that fee. huge

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I paid 27,000 for a lawyer to file for me in 2010 for PR. I have NEVER been in an Immigration office here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

rainman1

I paid 27,000 for a lawyer to file for me in 2010 for PR. I have NEVER been in an Immigration office here.

How do you renew your Resident Card?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

HR from my company always go for me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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