There were some big changes to the immigration laws in Japan in July 2012. Go! Go! Nihon has put together things that we think will be important for future foreign students in Japan.
So what do these changes mean?
The previous ARC will be abolished and replaced with the Zairyu card which is embedded with an IC chip and better anti-tampering measures. One of the key differences between the ARC and the Zairyu card is where you receive it. From July 2012, every foreigner entering Japan with the purpose of staying long-term will be issued a Zairyu card at the port of entry. So if you're flying into Narita airport, you will be issued the Zairyu card at the airport.
If for some reason you aren't able to receive your Zairyu card, you will have to visit the nearest immigration office as soon as possible. This is a big change since receiving an ARC was a lengthy process done at your local city/ward office.
You are still required to carry this card with you at all times. Failure to show your Residence Card to the authorities or keep the information updated can result in a fine of 200,000yen or deportation.
Under the previous immigration law, a foreign resident of Japan was required to obtain a re-entry permit if he/she wanted to leave Japan and re-enter. You were required to go to the regional immigration office and obtain the re-entry permit and if you failed to do so, you could potentially be rejected at customs in the airport. Under the new law, re-entry permits are no longer required as they are already included on your visa. This is a big change for people that frequently leave Japan as it takes the time and frustration out of remembering and obtaining a re-entry permit prior to leaving Japan.
Your visa will no longer be on your passport, but now listed on the Zairyu card itself. The application for a "Permit to Engage In Activity Other Than That Permitted By The Status Of Residence Previously Granted" will now be included with the Zairyu card application and the permit itself will be located on the Zairyu card. However, students must apply for this at a later date through their school.
Previously, it was up to the local governments to monitor and take care of foreign residents' needs; however, after the new immigration law kicks in, it will be up to the Ministry of Justice. This means an important change from the old system.
The local government will still be handling some things directly:
So for the above stated matters, you will still be required to go to your local city/ward office to enroll or revise these. We highly recommend that you visit your local city/ward office to enroll in the national health insurance the moment you get to Japan.
You are required by law to enroll in the national pension plan, but as a foreigner, if and when you decide to permanently return to your home country, you will be reimbursed the full amount.
If you decide to move while you're in Japan, you're required to report the address change to your new local city/ward office within 14 days.
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