Tokyo: Have you ever had any trouble with immigration in Japan?


Jonathan McDonald
Teacher, 35 (English)
Never. I find that if I’m well-dressed and polite, things go well. I always try to chat a bit to the staff. This makes the process less of a formality and more human. That way if something does go wrong, the staff are less likely to follow protocol and more likely to do what they can to help!

Sandra Meyer
Bar staff, 22 (French)
Personally I have never had a problem with the immigration services in Japan — either in Shinagawa or at ports of departure — because I have never done anything wrong or illegal, and I am of course trying to keep it that way. It is of course easier to live if we have done nothing wrong.

Alfie Goodrich
Photographer, 44 (English)
I’ve encountered the usual dilemma of “the wife is Japanese, she goes through her line; I am English and need to go through a different line,” which has been solved very quickly by an immigration officer, usually, by opening up a new line, taking us through in double-quick time and bypassing the whole [conundrum].

Ifeanyi Akaolis
Corporate instructor, 44 (Nigerian)
Once, having gone through the ups and downs all foreigners face here, I headed to immigration at Narita to get out and go home. For various reasons I was delayed at immigration, met a Japanese woman and returned to Tokyo. Weeks later we were married and now we have a lovely daughter.

Ananda Jacobs
Musician, actress, 30 (American)
Immigration was a bit of a Catch-22 situation for me when I was applying for my artist visa. In order to qualify for the visa, I had to show that I was earning enough income as a freelance composer to support myself, yet in order to work in Japan I had to first have the proper visa.

Andrew McLucas
Sales, 41 (Australian)
I’ve lived here for over 15 years on three-year visas, but once I forgot to go and renew my visa, so essentially I overstayed. But, having a normal job and living in the same place, there was no real negative outcome and it was renewed. I was told, however, not to do it again!

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  • Ron NJ

    Aside from immigrations officers at airports, I’ve had nothing but good experiences dealing with immigrations officials here, though they could stand to ensure that their employees have at least some measure of foreign language ability given that their raison d’être is dealing with people whose first language often isn’t Japanese. It’s a bit silly for immigrations officials to often only speak Japanese when they have to handle short-term temporary visitors and the like who have no obligation or reason to learn or know Japanese.

  • El Anon

    interesting how this quotes people who live in Japan, or got away with minor infractions, but doesn’t talk to people who got into trouble. I imagine that people from China, Korea, Brazil, Phillipines have different mentality about immigration in Japan

  • C321

    It always amazes me the way so many people turn up at immigration looking like they just rolled out of bed and with an aggressive attitude. You might be within your rights to do so, but when you are dealing with people who have any discretion at all, you need to play the game and also show them a little respect by making an effort in your presentation and attitude when you turn up to interact with them.

  • http://thehopefulmonster.wordpress.com/ Sublight

    Been pleasantly surprised the last two times I’ve gone to the Tokyo branch near Shinagawa, as I’ve managed to get multiple errands done and be out the door in under 40 minutes. The most time-consuming part is simply getting out there and back.

  • zer0_0zor0

    I’ve had only good experiences with immigration, even when I’ve made mistakes, so I will add my vote of confidence to the many others.

    A job well done should be appreciated.

  • homesickyank

    Be grateful you don’t have to deal with US immigration. The hubby is Japanese, has a green card (we live in the US now), never broke any regulations, yet has been hassled and rudely treated by the bureaucrats of my country. Very embarrassing and infuriating. But people are so afraid of overbearing American officials now, no one will complain.

  • crazyfruitbat

    The only problem I see with immigration is that the website is pretty bad. I looked up some forms on the English website and the wife just happened to check the Japanese version and they required different things. So basically if you only use the English version you may find yourself with the wrong paperwork.

    Tenozu isn’t exactly the easiest place to get to in Tokyo but I found the staff pretty friendly and if you have the right paperwork when you get there you can get in and out within an hour.