Certificate of Eligibility – That which changes your visa application

Good afternoon, this is Maxime of IMS.


It has already been a month and a half since I arrived in Japan, time flies! Today, I would like to turn back the pendulum a little bit more and go back to the time I was applying for my cultural activities visa.


The truth is, this time is my second experience in Japan since I although came here last year for an internship at IMS and spent 2 months in Tokyo. But, whereas last time I could come under Temporary Visitor Status this time the French university which I belong to required that I have a visa


Knowing that a lot of documents were involved and that I still had a lot of time left I just…. Postponed! We were in January back then and I was in the middle of my midterm’s exams so I really felt like I did not have so much time to allow to my visa application.


Eventually, I postponed my visa application until now.


Indeed, while postponing, I received an email from my former and soon-to-be-again colleagues at IMS, asking me if I needed some help with my visa application. I must confess their help was more than appreciable.


They asked me to prepare some documents (fewer documents than requested by the consulate near where I live) and submitted them for me at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau. This is how I was granted something which quickly became for me a sesame to the obtaining of my visa: a Certificate of Eligibility.


Basically, a Certificate of Eligibility is issued by a regional immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice as evidence that the applicant fulfills various conditions of the Immigration Control Act. But, to me, it was more like a magic item.


I mean that, when I received the original of my COE in France, I went to the consulate to submit it and get my visa. Magically, it was the only document needed (with a photo and the visa application form). Moreover, while the person who welcomed me looked kind of upset in the beginning (I came by without an appointment, since there was not any single mention of it as being necessary on their website) and did not even want to take my case, her attitude drastically change when I said that I have a COE.

I think that, as it has been less work for me, it was less work for her to deal with this single document instead of the huge package requested at first.


Finally, my visa was granted 3 days later, while it could take up to one month without a COE.


I can truly say that the COE changed my visa application and really helped me out during this busy times!