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Let me introduce you the procedure and the steps to follow in order to obtain a student visa to study Japanese in Japan. Nothing complicated, jute some basic to follow.
It was a year ago, just one year, that I began to study Japanese at Akamonkai Japanese Language School in Nippori, and having a student visa. I’ll explain here how I did to get this precious document that people many want. This visa allows you to come to Japan to study Japanese and progress on a daily basis while familiarizing yourself with the local culture.
I want to clarify that this article focuses only on student visa for a Japanese language school, and I’ll take the example of the procedure I followed with Akamonkai, which is not complicated.
Choosing the right school
That’s it, you want to study Japanese in Japan. You may already have bases or not, but you want to come here and improve the language, that is so different from ours. I tell you now that this is the best thing to do. I found for myself that one learns a language faster when he is permeated with it on a daily basis. So do not hesitate to come, you’ll see you’ll love it, just like me. But before that, you will have to choose a school. And I’ll give you some ideas of useful reflections on the criteria that you should have a look at:
- When studying? Most schools offer courses in the morning or afternoon. Most times they choose for you and give you no choice on this. Some allow you to choose whether you prefer morning or afternoon. Many students prefer classes in the morning because it is easier to find a job and especially easier to manage his time. Others prefer the afternoon because they are not morning people. See for yourself if you have obligations or other preferences and choose according to them. This will be very helpful in choosing your future school.
- Where to study? I’m not talking about school, but the location of it. Depending on whether you are in the east or west of Tokyo, this does not give you the same quality of life. The West is perceived to be more “modern” and “westernized”, especially with the Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Omotesando, Roppongi, … While the east is seen as more “traditional” with particular neighborhoods such as Asakusa, Yanaka Ginza, … Depending on what you want, the location of the school will be important
- Work? Great question and great problem. Indeed, the cost of living in Tokyo can be expensive and you often have to work to deal with it. Some schools offer job opportunities for their students and support, which can be very interesting.
- Accomodation? Another issue important enough and that will be expensive: the rent. Already, you should know that if you want to save on this aspect, the “cheaper” neighborhoods of Tokyo, and close to the Yamanote Line, are located between Okachimachi and Tabata. This will also affect the choice of your future school, as if it is located in a “more expensive” area your rent will result.
- Transport? You will have to go to school 5 days a week, every month. If you need to take public transportation in Tokyo, it will be an important part of your budget. You should therefore take this into account, including your commute between your home, school and work.
- The course? All schools offer the same kind of courses, and intensive courses are equal in this quality (I tested several and I discussed with students from other schools). From this side, so you will have very little influence.
- The reputation of the school and its network? Another point not to be forgotten. Indeed, especially if you want to continue your studies after (universities, specialized schools, …) or even look for a job, it will play an important role. More school is known and has a large network and the greater your chances will be great.
- The prices? All schools, after extensive research, are equal in terms of prices for Japanese language courses, especially those with a student visa (price is generally between 600,000 and 700,000 yen the year).
Here are for those criteria that you should have a look at closely. Let me now show you how I choosed my school to study Japanese in Tokyo.
Why I chose Akamonkai Nihongo Gakko
In February 2012 I decided to get into learning Japanese in school, for 2 years. So I at that time began to look for schools, compare, and analyze all the information and my choice was stopped on Akamonkai Japanese Language School. Here are the criteria that made this choice:
- Free to choose the time: What I immediately liked about Akamonkai is that it is possible to choose between the classes in the morning or afternoon. Nothing is imposed, it is the student who decides. This is really important for me because I prefer to study in the morning, work in the afternoon and study on the evening.
- The location of Akamonkai: The school is located, with two campuses, in Nippori and Nishi-Nippori, or the east side of Tokyo, that I prefer to because it is more “traditional”, with less tall building and more old buildings. I confess that I love Yanaka Ginza (famous traditional shopping street of Tokyo), which is a few minutes from Akamonkai on feet.
- Job offers: Akamonkai regularly offers employment opportunities to its students, through their partnerships. I admit that it is very useful to find a student job, especially when you are new on the spot. And besides their staff helps a lot in the process.
- Affordable housing: Around Nippori, rents are rather “low” compared to the rest of Tokyo and when you are a student, it is not negligible. In addition, the school has its own accomodation reserved for Akamonkai students (dorms and private rooms) at really affordable prices (between 29,000 and 50,000 yen per month) and a few minutes walk from the school.
- Little transport to use: I work primarily on the eastern part of Tokyo (such as when I give French lessons) and thus Nippori is well located for me. And the area is very well served by public transport, especially with the Yamanote Line, which goes around “central Tokyo”.
- The biggest school in Tokyo : Akamonkai is the largest Japanese language school in Tokyo and has a strong and well developed network. As I said earlier, this is important if you want to continue your education or find a job.
- Japanese business classes: one of the few schools to offer it with a year programme and a comprehensive help job search. With the guarantee to benefit from the school network. For those who want to find a job in Japan while learning the language, iy is the perfect curriculum.
- An English-speaking and pleasant staff: I admit that it was a big plus for me. I attach great importance to the feeling and human contact. And despite the fact that Akamonkai is a great school, I immediately felt that the staff was attentive, enterprising and there to help in all situations, which is not the case in all schools.
- Program diversity: there is everything, for everyone, for three months, for a year or two, Japanese business classes … A really varied and accessible choice of Japanese lessons.
Here are the key elements that led me to choose Akamonkai Japanese Language School rather than another school. And frankly, in a year here, I do not regret it at all, far from it.
The procedure for obtaining a student visa in Japan
We have seen how to choose the Japanese language school in Tokyo, so now I propose to dwell on the procedure for obtaining a student visa in Japan, with Akamonkai Japanese Language School:
- Complete documentation and send them, the complete list is available here: http://www.akamonkai.ac.jp/english/howto/index.html . You can complete the documents in English, they will be translated into Japanese by the school . Be careful to be able to justify what you have done since your entry into primary school (school, years of work, … ) with the required documents ( work certificate , diploma , … ) . Leave no “hole” in your history and make sure you have at least 12 years of schooling from primary or High School Diploma. Also make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months after the end of your studies so that you can get a visa with it. Finally, make sure you have a guarantor (preferably in your immediate family : parents, brothers and sisters ) with stable income and savings (2.5 million yen or more ) in order to compensate for any failure to pay your fees. When you complete this file , don’t forget that the school wants you to show them that you really want to study Japanese for clear and identifiable reasons and you are able to pay your tuition fees and your daily life in Japan. You need to “reassure” the school up . Oh, and write your documents with a BLACK ballpoint pen , and nothing else .
- Submission to immigration: the school send your application to the immigration for processing. It takes about two months. Upon receiving the information, the school will keep you informed immediately.
- Payment of fees: If your application is approved by the Japanese immigration, the school will ask you to pay in advance a portion of the tuition fees (usually 6 months).
- Certificate of Eligibility: Once the fees paid, the school will send to your home, anywhere in the world, your “Certificate of Eligibility.” With it, you can receive your student visa.
- The student visa: There are 2 possible ways, you are in your home country and then you apply to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate nearest to you, or you’re in Japan and you are applying for a visa directly at the immigration office (Shinagawa, if you are in Tokyo). Just bring the “Certificate of Eligibility ” and the “Letter of Acceptance” and fill out a form, submit your passport with it and return at a later date to get your visa.
That it’s, if you follow these steps to the letter, and you fill out your application with all the required documents, you’ll see that it’s not difficult to get a student visa for Japan.
Small additional tips
Here are some more tips to help you enjoy your student visa at its maximum
- Student insurance: do not leave home without insurance. Once in Japan, you will be entitled to the Japanese social security that cover 70% of your medical expenses. The remaining 30% will be your responsibility. This is why insurance for people studying abroad is very important, because medical costs are very expensive.
- Enjoy the rate of the yen: the yen is low, school fees are much lower, since the prices do not change. So enjoy. When I paid my first 6 months of classes, the rate was € 1 = 100 yen, now the rate is € 1 = 130 yen, so I made a few thousand euros in savings.
- Ask for the work visa: when you arrive at the school, ask immediately to fill out a form to obtain the exemption allowing you to work with your student visa. Indeed, with this exception, you can work up to 28 hours per week, which is not negligible. The request takes around three weeks, then do it as soon as possible.
Here are the procedures that will allow you to get a student visa to study Japanese in Japan. I hope this will help you. And if you have any questions, do not hesitate.