Hidden route — why nobody can figure out the right path for visa procedures

All foreigners are facing troubles with visa now, and nobody can really figure the right procedures at immigration bureau — why?

  1. All of the most important criteria is redacted
  2. Immigration Bureau can make decision at its discretion
  3. So-called “immigration lawyers” cannot access to the redacted sentences

Redacted rules

Reading through several applications including grants, subsidies and contracts, I found some of the most important contents are written in “side note (注)” section.

These contents do matter when we submit applications on practice, but all the detailed side notes are redacted on the examination procedure that Immigration Bureau publishes.

Gyo-sei shoshi — so called “immigration specialist” cannot even access to the redacted sentences, and the information is veiled in mystery all the time.

Sole discretion

As we all know, the answer from immigration varies all the time, and the Minister of Justice can make judgement on its own discretion.
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan70.pdf

Many Gyosei-shoshi — which one to ask?

Basically Gyosei-shoshi (Administrative Scriveners) and Lawyers are the two players that can process immigration documents on behalf of the clients.

However, both of them do not need to study anything about immigration law to pass the national exam. Shinsei-toritsugi-gyosei-shoshi (申請取次行政書士) are the ones who passed the regular Gyosei-shoshi exam, and additionally took some classes about immigration rules.

Immigration rules are changing every single year, so they all need to catch up the latest information all the time. My recommendation would be:
try to find shinsei-toritsugi-gyosei-shoshi (申請取次行政書士) from the beginning.

Ask someone who recently got the same visa as what you are trying to apply.

After listening to various opinions regarding visa procedures from my friends, clients, business partners, administrative scriveners, I found the best teacher for us is always the visa holders themselves who recently got visa by going through all the procedures by themselves.

Including myself, there are many supporters trying to help who can speak Native Japanese and communicate with officers at governmental offices, but the answer that we get are sometimes different from what you get.

Compare the answers but in a right way.

Applicants often ask several administrative scriveners and compare their answers, and what I often get is — everybody gives them different answers.

The reason could be:

  • the listener does not have enough experience
  • the applicant provides different information each time
  • miscommunication

If you have time to talk with several immigration specialists, please make sure to ask exactly the same questions all the time.

If you don’t have time, please make sure to provide information as specific as possible.

Completely outsource, or do it by ourselves.

Some people don’t want to spend too much money outsourcing their applications, and they try to do everything by themselves to minimize the fee.

As long as the applicant does all the application until the end by themselves it works, however, outsource everything if you are unsure about the contents. Revising may take longer than creating the right contents from the beginning.

Do not choose the wrong path, so do research.

Most of visa applicants have more than one option at the beginning, but if they think of only one option and start the procedures, the process might stuck when they are making a contract with real estate agencies, opening bank accounts, or applying for a new visa. So think of

  • how many months left until the visa expiry date and what you can do within the activities allowed under the visa
  • what visa your partner has and how you can get benefit from it
  • what is the desirable outcome — do you want a visa, start a small business, secure period of stay for a certain period of time, or bring a partner?

Most of the procedures are still chicken and egg relation, but there are a way to get over it because I know half of them are successfully staying, living, working in Japan and operating a business while the other half are making effort to start their lives in Japan.

Hidden route makes the procedures difficult for everyone, but the other hand we also have some hidden routes to go through the process. Know the practice, keep asking, and meet the right people.

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