Application for VISA exchange from Tsukuba University

written on 2011.03.07

Quoted from International Student website from Tsukuba University (at http://www.intersc.tsukuba.ac.jp/01prospective/faq.htm#graduate_students):
In order to enter Japan for taking the entrance examination, you need to obtain a "Temporary Visitor" visa at the Japanese embassy/consulate in your home country. To obtain a temporary visitor visa, you need to submit the "Examination Admission Card" (or "Admission Ticket") to the Japanese embassy/consulate. The period of stay for the temporary visitor visa is for 15 or 90 days. However, if you pass the entrance examination while you are staying in Japan, you can change the status of residence to "College Student" (which is required for international students) without returning to your home country. However, it should be noted that the above case can only be applicable to those who take the entrance examination for April admission in February. If you take the entrance examination for another trimester admission, you must return to your country, obtain a college student visa at the Japanese embassy/ consulate in your home country, and come to Japan again.

According to this webpage, It is possible to take entrance exam and get College student visa without returning to home country, but it is possible only for entrance exam held in February for April admission.

Ambassy inqueries

Since I am French citizen, I contacted the Japanese consulate in Strasbourg about obtaining a Temporary Visitor visa. the employee was not aware of this possibility. I called Japanese ambassy in Paris, and I got the following answer: it is not possible to get a Temporary Visitor visa since French citizens do not need to get a visa in order to go to Japan as a Temporary Visitor. The employee explained me that I have to hold a return plane ticket for entering Japan. She also told me that some airline companies check at departure if passengers have a return plane ticket. They would do this because the airline company has to take back the rejected passenger to his departure airport.

This webpage (http://www.fr.emb-japan.go.jp/visa/sejour_temporaire/titulaires.html, in French) of the Japanese ambassy in France confirms the information I got from phone call.
3. Vous devez être en possession de billets aller-retour pour le Japon lors de votre entrée sur le territoire. (English translation: You have to hold round-trip tickets to Japan at your entrance in (Japanese) territory.)

I explained by phone at the employee of the Japanese ambassy in France that I do not expect to go back to France since I will apply for visa exchange. She replied that I cannot save the return plane ticket even if it might be useless in the case I pass the exam and get a College student visa.

At Airports

I bought 2 plane tickets. One from Frankfurt to Narita (via China Eastern) and one from Narita to Paris (via China Southern). At Frankfurt airport, nobody never checked if I had a return plane ticket. When arrived at Narita, the immigration employee asked me the purpose of my stay in Japan. I showed her the Examination Admission ticket (from Tsukuba University). She never asked me if I had a return plane ticket, and I were allowed to "enter Japan".

Required documents for application

You need to pass the entrance exam (on February 2nd, 2011, in my case) and wait for the result (on February 16th, 2011, in my case) before applying for the documents.

When you received the Notification of successful examination results, you have to apply for:

Enclosed with result documents of entrance exam, there is How to obtain College Student Visa documentation. This documentation contains the application form: Application for certificate of eligibility (3 pages).
If you apply by yourself, do not use this form! because at section 28 of the 3rd page, there is already a stamp of the International Advisor at Tsukuba University (Ms. Sato) who is supposed to act as your proxy for application.
Application for certificate of eligibility can be found there: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000052351.pdf (College student version, local copy).

Finally, I needed to attach to the application documents a return envelop with your address and 380yen stamp (See this page: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/kanri/shyorui/01.html).

Application at Immigration bureau

There are two options: Tokyo or Mito. I went to Mito because this place is easier to reach since there is a direct bus line from Tsukuba center. Actually, for that kind of "special" application, the immigration bureau of Mito just sends your application to the immigration bureau of Tokyo. The employee was not able to check if I was submitting the correct documents. Going to Tokyo would have been a better choice even if it is harder to reach.

After taking my documents, the employee of immigration bureau told me that the application procedure will take 1 or 2 months. He insisted that if I do not get any answer or positive answer from them before the end of my Temporary Visitor "visa" (90 days for French people), I will have to leave Japan. Unlike other application procedures, they do not put a stamp in your passport that confirm your application and extend your stay authorization by 2 months.