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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