Certificate of Eligibility and Student Visa are Different
The Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status is a document certified by Japan’s Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. This document satisfies the conditions of eligibility to stay in Japan under the Immigration Control and Refugee Act for foreigners who want to enter Japan.
This document is NOT a student visa, so students who want to learn Japanese at Japanese language schools CANNOT enter Japan only with it. After obtaining this document, you have to apply for a student visa at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General in your country and obtain the visa.
Most incoming students do not forget this process. One of our students, from country which has a visa waiver, came to Japan without obtaining a student visa. Immigration called NILS to find out this student is really studying Japanese at NILS. The student explained why this happened and was ultimately permitted to enter.
But why did this happen? The student thought the Certificate of Eligibility and a student visa were the same! In this case, the student could finally enter Japan. However, you need to be warned that even foreigners from visa waiver countries might be refused entry to Japan if they ONLY have the Certificate of Eligibility.
NEVER Leave the Certificate of Eligibility in Your Suitcase (Check-in Baggage)
When travelling to Japan, please remember to keep both your student visa from the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General and the Certificate of Eligibility in your carry-on baggage. These should be kept with your passport and not placed in your check-in baggage.
As you see from the above, you have to show the Certificate of Eligibility together with your passport at the Immigration check at the airport. If you do not have both your Certificate of Eligibility and your student visa, you might not be allowed to enter Japan.
Last April, one student lost their Certificate of Eligibility at the airport while waiting in transit. The student informed NILS about this before boarding their connecting flight to Fukuoka. NILS informed the matter to the Fukuoka Immigration Bureau in advance and submitted the photocopy of the Certificate of Eligibility and the student was permitted to enter Japan.
We, of course, help our students to enter Japan without trouble, but sometimes our support and assistance may not solve this kind of trouble. Please make sure you have your passport AND the Certificate of Eligibility TOGETHER with you in your carry-on baggage BEFORE you check in.
You must be excited to start learning Japanese before leaving your country, but you should make sure everything will be all right in advance!