Hello, this is Ito of IMS Legal Professional Corporation. More and more people around me have received their COVID-19 vaccine. At the same time, in Tokyo, the State of Emergency was announced again starting July 12. With the Olympic games and the Obon holiday coming up, there are worries of yet another outbreak.

At the start of the pandemic, embassies and consulates in Japan began to limit their business hours and services. Even reservations to renew near-expiring passports are difficult to make, making the process that much more time consuming. Many of our clients have expiring (or expired) passports and are worried if they can continue with their Japanese visa applications.

Visa applications at the Immigration Bureau can be done with an expired passport. However, in these cases, you must submit a document explaining why you do not possess a valid passport. If you are applying for visa that sticks a seal on your passport--like the “Permission to Engage in Activity Other Than That Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted (資格外活動許可)"--it would be best if you obtain a new passport before getting the application results.

Also, some clients ask us if there is any problem if their passport expires before their "desired period of stay" ends. There is no problem; you can still apply if your passport is valid at the time of application. The period of stay does not link to the expiration date of your passport. Instead, the period of stay is decided by the Immigration Services Agency based on the law.

Certificate of Eligibility (COE) applications can also be submitted without a valid passport, or while applying for a new passport. Take note, that the COE will use the name that is written on the application form. If the name on your COE is different from that of your passport (different spelling, first and last names are reversed, etc.), there is a possibility that you will not be able to apply for a visa at the overseas Japanese embassy or consulate. Please keep that in mind when filling out your application.

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