If one of your goals is to study in Japan, then you’ll want to know all you can about applying for student visas for Japan. This article will go through everything from when you actually need to start your application, to what you need to organise before you arrive. You can never be too prepared, especially in times of COVID-19, so read on to make sure you get it right.

The importance of planning in advance

Going to Japan to study Japanese is a longer process than you might think, so it’s best you give yourself plenty of time to complete your school and visa applications.

Normally, we begin accepting applications around 6 months before the start of term. For example, students applying for the July term will typically begin their school application process in December of the previous year, or January of the same year. However, students can save their spot up to one year in advance by paying the application fee, which we recommend to avoid disappointment. 

It’s also important to note that schools will submit your visa application to Japanese immigration, however they must do so on specific dates each year. This makes it even more important to plan in advance and to use a service like Go! Go! Nihon. We will ensure you have the right documentation submitted on time so you don’t miss out on your Japan student visa.

For more guidance and insight into how you should plan your studies in Japan, read our articles:

* Study in Japan for 6 months: planning and timeline
* Live in Japan long term: a five-year visa plan for Japan
* How Japanese language school terms work

The process for student visas for Japan

Choose your school

Have a look at our school options on our website. Or if you’re unsure what school to choose, get in touch and one of our team will help you!

Note that due to some Japanese immigration requirements, we’re unable to assist applicants from certain countries.

Apply through Go! Go! Nihon

Once you choose and apply for the language school of your choice through Go! Go! Nihon, your school will submit your visa application after you pay the application fee. 

You will be required to submit several documents for your application. Don’t worry, Go! Go! Nihon will help you with that if you apply through us. Some of these documents include:

  • Passport-style profile picture
  • Copy of your passport ID page
  • Copy of your high school diploma (or proof that you have completed 12 years of education)
  • Recent bank statement with at least 1,000,000 yen equivalent
  • You, or your sponsor’s, recent tax return

More documents may be required depending on your personal situation and the school you apply to. Your Go! Go! Nihon coordinator will help you with these documents, including checking for errors, translating them and sending them to your school of choice.

It’s important to note that schools need to submit student visa applications to Japanese immigration on specific dates. If students don’t provide them with the required documents in time, the school won’t be able to apply for those visas. This is why it’s better to submit documents as soon as possible. If you are using Go! Go! Nihon, your student coordinator will let you know exactly when is the best time to submit your documents.

Note: it’s possible to apply for a Japanese language school if you did not complete high school, but have done GED, or General Education Development, instead. If you have not completed the requisite 12 years of education, or you do not have university entrance level education, then unfortunately your language school options will be limited. 

Get your student visa

After your application has been submitted, you need to wait to receive your Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which you take to your local Japanese embassy. They will need this document to issue you with your student visa. You will receive this around one month before you’re due to arrive in Japan to start school.

To convert your COE to a student visa, you need:

  • The original COE
  • A good quality and recent portrait photo
  • Your passport
  • Visa application form
  • School guarantor information – our team will share this with you if you apply through Go! Go! Nihon
  • If your entry to Japan has been postponed, you will also need to submit a Declaration (Mōshitatesho 申立書)

It’s rare, but sometimes COEs get denied. Japanese immigration has their own reasons for denying applications and don’t always share them. But here are some reasons why a COE could get denied:

  • The documents submitted were falsified; if forged documents are provided, the documents are not from an official source, or the information provided is revealed to be inaccurate;
  • Being convicted of a criminal offence (in Japan or overseas);
  • Having been deported from Japan in the past;
  • Failure to provide the requested additional documents in time;
  • Having been denied a Japanese long-term visa in the past.

For more information about the COE, please read our article here.

Room with bed and desk

Book accommodation 

Once you receive your visa, you can start booking flights to Japan, as well as accommodation. Contact your Go! Go! Nihon team member for help with finding a place to live – we partner with several accommodation partners that offer a range of options.

Read more about the types of accommodation you can find in Japan here.

You must confirm your accommodation before arriving in Japan as you will need the address for the official forms you fill out when you arrive. This will be the place where you will quarantine, if you need to, after arriving, so it must be accurate. 

The school you have applied to may offer quarantine accommodation which you pay for. Some require students to use their package and not book their own accommodation, so please follow your school’s instructions if this is the case.

If your school doesn’t offer a quarantine package, Go! Go! Nihon has an option in collaboration with our partner BeGood Japan.

  • Hotel (required)
  • Pickup (optional)
  • Insurance (optional)
  • Online course discount (optional)
  • BeGood Japan rent discount (optional) for your accommodation with them after quarantine.

If you are interested in booking the package please fill out the form (Haneda and Narita arrivals only): https://gogonihon.com/en/pick-up-and-stay-quarantine-package/

If you are looking for a quarantine location for a Kansai International airport arrival or you are looking for a higher quality hotel for Haneda and Narita, please use this form instead.

Staying in a private apartment for quarantine

If you are planning to live in a private apartment during your stay in Japan, you can use it to do the self-isolation period. 

Staying in a share house for quarantine

If you are staying in any form of shared accommodation, please be aware that not all accommodation partners allow people to complete their quarantine period in their shared houses for the safety of their other occupants. Please double check with your chosen accommodation option. 

Staying with a host family for quarantine

If you are applying for a homestay, there is no single answer as to whether you can start your stay with them after arrival. It depends on the host family and your chosen school. In the event that you are not allowed to move in with them upon arrival, we would recommend our package.

If you have any questions about accommodation, please contact us.

A note about entry date and visa length

The duration of your visa is based on when you enter Japan and not when your language course starts. Therefore, we advise students to plan their arrival in Japan accordingly so they do not miss the end of their course, nor overstay their visa.

For example, if you have an 18-month visa and your course begins in January, aim to arrive in Japan just before your course begins, rather than months beforehand. Please contact us if you’re unsure about when you should time your arrival for.

COE lengths have also been extended (as of June 2022):

  • If issued between 1 Jan, 2020 and 30 April, 2022, your COE will be valid until 31 October, 2022
  • If the issue date was between 1 May, 2022 and 31 July 2022, your COE will be valid for six months from the issue date

Passenger wearing mask at airport

COVID requirements

Japan’s borders reopened to international students from March 2022 after a two-year entry ban.

If you have at least three vaccine shots, you will not be required to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours before flying to Japan. You also do not need to quarantine.

If you have not had at least three shots and come from a country marked as “yellow” you may need to do a PCR test upon arrival. Please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan’s website for the countries that fall into the “yellow” category. You may also need to self-isolate for five days, or three days if you take a voluntary PCR test on Day 3 and it comes back negative.

To enter Japan, you need:

If you do have to quarantine, you should refrain from using public transport. However you can use public transport to get to your private accommodation for quarantine if you do so within 24 hours of your negative PCR test which you do upon arrival in Japan.

IMPORTANT: Please make sure to check your passport, it must be valid at least 6 months from the moment you enter Japan. If you need to renew your passport please do so ASAP and send us a copy of the new one.

For the most updated information on which countries are in which groups, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan website or contact us. Please also contact us to organise your accommodation if needed for quarantine and post-quarantine.

Airport pick-up

Go! Go! Nihon is pleased to offer a pick-up service from Narita, Haneda and Kansai Airports. You can book for multiple people at once and it’s a service for anyone, not just Go! Go! Nihon students. There is a charge for this service and you can see all the prices, as well as make your booking, here: https://gogonihon.com/en/pick-up-reservation/


Go! Go! Nihon is here to help you with any questions you might have about the student visa application process for Japan in 2022. 

Please check our FAQ on the application timeline, or if you don’t find your answer, contact us directly.