As a deeply, proudly, lazy person the thought of renewing my Working Holiday Visa without any sort of guidance was a non-option. I couldn’t find a comprehensive article online. Yet, after asking everybody I know, getting knee deep into Reddit shit-posts, and experiencing it for myself it’s actually fairly straightforward. I’m consolidating all the information I found here. So as to help the next deeply, proudly, lazy person who is due for renewal.
The Shinagawa Immigration Office
The main Tokyo Immigration office is located on an island in Shinagawa. From Shinagawa Station, you can walk (which I, a deeply lazy person, did not) or take the bus. Head out the Konan Gate exit, and once you get outside there’ll be signs (in English!) directing you towards the bus stop for bus 099. If you’re Japanese is as woefully horrendous as mine, don’t worry! The bus makes the announcement for Immigration Office in English as well.
Once you enter the building, head straight to the information desk. There you can pick up your visa extension forms (unless you aren’t deeply lazy, and brought them pre-filled). There isn’t much to fill out except your personal information and how you intend on funding your extra time. To renew your visa, you also need a passport photo – they have photobooths in the lobby in case you forget! Fill out the form, stick your ugly (probably) new photo onto the paper (there are glue and scissors there inside the centre). Then, line up at desk B on the second floor.
At this desk, they’ll go over the paperwork with a fine tooth comb, and to make sure everything is ok before giving you a numbered ticket. Any small changes that need to be made they’ll let you do while you wait for your number to be called. I arrived before 10 a.m. and it probably only took me two hours, including filling out the forms and taking a passport photo. Arrive later in the day and I’ve heard that you wait for a literal eternity.
The Waiting Game
You fill out a postcard addressed to yourself (think cute quotes like “wish you were here”). This then, allegedly, gets mailed out to you when your application is approved. A friend of mine applied a couple days after me and received the postcard about two weeks later. I waited. And waited. And waited. And panicked. And waited. After a whole month went by, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to call the office. Reddit informed me that sometimes they just kind of forget to send the postcards out, so don’t hesitate to call! The number is (03) 5796 7252 and should be on the receipt they give you. Unfortunately, that number does not have a hold system and is often busy so it might take a few tries to get through.
Once you receive your postcard or phone the office, it’s time to head back to Shinagawa. A route which you will navigate the second time with experienced ease. Make sure you bring your receipt, old residence card and passport. This time, once inside go to the convenience store and buy a stamp for 4,000yen for your visa extension. You can buy it on your first visit as I did. However, after leaving it in my coin purse for almost a month it was a little worse for wear. If this is the case, you’ll be victim to the muttering of a grumpy desk agent who will sigh and accept it begrudgingly.
Then head upstairs to desk A2 where they will take your passport and old residence card and ask you to wait. I had heard horror stories of people waiting there for ages, but for me, I was in an out within half an hour (once again arriving before 10 a.m.)
A Special Word of Warning
One last thing to note, once you have the stamp on your residence card saying that you’re waiting for a new visa, you have two months before you must pick up your new card or leave Japan. When you do pick it up, the new visa starts from that day – not the day your previous one expired. So, if you’re a braver soul than I and collect your visa at the end of this time limit, you can get an extra two months of time in Japan.
For more information, you can also visit the Immigration Office Website.
Shinagawa Immigration Office Details:
Office hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 – 12:00 & 13:00 – 16:00
(It is closed on weekends and national holidays)
Address: 5 Chome-5-30 Konan, Minato, Tokyo 108-8255
Google Maps Location is here.
Phone: 03 5796 7111