Passport and Visa
You may need only a valid passport to study in Japan through KCP. Because of a visa exemption arrangement that exists between the U.S. and Japan, students are eligible to stay less than 90 days (one semester or less) without a visa.
U.S. citizens can download a passport application and find other helpful information about applying for a passport from the U.S. Department of State.
A student visa is not required for U.S. citizens planning to stay just one semester or less in Japan. Since the U.S. has a visa exemption agreement with Japan, U.S. citizens can stay in Japan for 90 days without a visa. (If you’re a non-U.S. student, check with your local Japanese Consulate about the need for a visa.)
If you plan to study longer than one term, or if you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you need a visa.
A visa is simply a stamp placed in your passport allowing you to enter another country. U.S. citizens can enter Japan as tourists and stay up to 90 days without applying for a visa. (Citizens of other countries may have different requirements for entry; check with your Japanese Consulate.)
For help understanding Japan’s visa policy, see Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Applying for a Visa
When you sign up for a KCP extended (two semesters) or academic year (three semesters) program, KCP staff assists you by checking your application for completeness, translating necessary parts, serving as the sponsor institution, and providing other crucial aid. Since it takes quite some time to obtain a visa, begin the visa application process as soon as you receive notification of acceptance from KCP.
Japanese Immigration is extremely rigorous in its criteria for correct, complete, perfect (no mistakes or evidence of corrections) information when considering visa applications. The most common reasons for visas not being granted are:
- incomplete information
- lack of financial support
- inaccurate information, and
- long time periods not accounted for by school, work, or other valid activity.
Give yourself all the time necessary (at least six months) to apply for a visa. DO NOT leave your student visa application for the last minute.
In accordance with Japan’s official policy, before you begin the visa process, if you want to stay for an extended semester (two or more terms), you must be able to show available funds (bank holdings and financial aid) of at least $15,000 US. In addition, KCP may ask you to verify income from a financial supporter.
If you do not obtain a student visa before beginning the term, you must have a return air travel ticket before departing for Japan. Airlines will let you board only if you have either a visa for longer than 90 days or a return ticket.
To begin gathering the necessary documents, download the Preliminary Student Visa Packet (PDF).
Pay visa processing fee online.
I especially appreciated the support staff when I was sick. They made everything a million times easier.