If you come to Japan and intend to stay for a long time, you will almost certainly have a "Japan Visa" in your passport. It is big and shiny and takes up a whole page, and at the top in block letters are the words 日本国査証.

We explained the difference between this Visa and the much more important Landing Permission (上陸許可) before, but for your reference, here is an example of a Japan Visa and explanation of its important points:

  1. In the top-left corner of this example, you can see the stamp "USED." This is important, and I'll explain more about it in number 5.
  2. Place of Issue: This is the Japanese consulate or embassy at which the visa was issued. Remember, a 日本国査証 is always issued outside of Japan, and it is only meant to help you get into the country. Once you are in Japan, the 日本国査証 has very little to do with your eligibility to stay.
  3. Date of Issue: This is the day you received the visa. You can only use this 査証 to enter Japan after the written date.
  4. Date of Expiry: This is the expiration date of the 日本国査証. It has nothing to do with the length of time you are allowed to stay in Japan. The "Date of Issue" and "Date of Expiry" written here form a window of time during which you can enter Japan and receive a proper Landing Permission. If the Date of Expiry passes, this document becomes invalid. Just this document. That is all.
  5. No. of Entries: For most people, this field reads "Single." However, occasionally a student or some other special class of visitor will receive a "Multiple" entry visa. If your visa is a "Single," you can use it to enter Japan once, at which time it will be stamped "USED" and you will receive a Landing Permission. If you want to exit and enter Japan after that time without losing your Landing Permission, you will use a different (and almost defunct) document called a "Re-Entry Permit." If your number of entries here is "Multiple," you could use your visa to enter Japan multiple times (up until the Date of Expiry) and receive a new Landing Permission each time. However, even if your No. of Entries here is "Multiple," you will probably want to use a Re-Entry Permit to go in and out of Japan. This is because each time you leave Japan without a Re-Entry Permit, you have to surrender your Alien Registration Card, which in turn means you will have to re-register at your local City Hall each time you return to the country.
  6. For Stays Of: This field usually reads "1 year" or, more recently, "3 years." This field determines the 在留期間 (zairyuu kikan), or "Period of Stay," on your initial Landing Permission stamp. If you have "1 year" written here, you will start out with a 1-year Period of Stay. But, the next year, when you apply to extend your Period of Stay, you may be granted a 3- or 5-year extension.
  7. Category: Most English teachers in Japan will have "Instructor" or "Specialist in Humanities" written here. But, actually there are many categories of residence in Japan. This category will determine the 在留資格 (zairyuu shikaku), or "Status of Residence," on your Landing Permission stamp.

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