en_US 日本語 How To Apply for Refugee Status in Japan | FAIR Work in Japan

How To Apply for Refugee Status in Japan

japan refugee visa

Japan has been accepting refugees since 2010, and thousands are becoming interested in applying for refugee status. Why? Because once legally recognized as a refugee, he/she may obtain special resident status.

Most of the asylum-seekers in Japan are coming from countries in AsiaMiddle East, and Africa. And those asylum applicants are required to apply for Refugee Status in the immigration office of the Ministry of Justice in Japan. 

However, the approval rate for such a status is consistently below 1 percent. This outcome will generally depend on the applicant’s statements and all the documents to support his/her claim as a refugee. Therefore, any insufficiency from such will cause disapproval of refugee status application.

In this article, you will understand how does a foreigner in Japan is recognized as a refugee. We will also provide the list of rights and benefits authorized to refugee status.

What is a refugee? 

According to Oxford Languages, a Refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. In other words, a person who is looking for a safer place to live.

Refugee definition from the 1951 Convention is relating to a person who must satisfy the following.

4 Eligibility Criteria for Refugee Status

Things you need to know before you apply for Refugee Status

The determining process of refugee status involves the understanding of “well-founded fear” of the applicant. Fear is the subjective element that must be reasonable and backed up, with an objective element to be well-founded. 

What are the different forms of persecution?

  • Danger to your life (target attack)
  • Torture
  • Arrest / Detention
  • Threat
  • Disappearance (by abduction)
  • Confiscation of property 
  • Deprivation of opportunity to work
  • Deprivation of educational opportunity 
  • Being forced to a religion
  • Being forced to a political party

What should be the reason for the persecution?

It should fall under the refugee criteria such as race or ethnicity, nationality, membership of a particular social group, and political activity or opinion.

What proofs do you need to submit?

  • Newspaper or article stating your persecution, or the persecution of the same group you belong
  • Documents showing the record of your political opinion, including search warrants or arrest warrants if any. 
  • Proof of membership in your organization or it can be a letter from your organization with your name and stating what happened to you in your country.
  • Reports published by governments, agencies, and human rights groups including domestic organizations 
  • Any identification such as student identification card 

 *Only submit the photocopies, not the original copies.

The immigration will assess, evaluate all the factors involving both elements, but will evaluate the applicant’s statements first. Therefore, you should make your statement as detailed as possible.

If you think you are not eligible to apply for this status, don’t waste your time to apply for recognition of Refugee status. To learn other visas in Japan, please read this article “Japan Visa: How Can I Get a Visa to Work?”​

The Application for Recognition of Refugee Status

Who can apply?

Any foreigner who intends to seek asylum in Japan and has possessed the four (4) refugee eligibility criteria can apply for refugee status. The applicant must be currently residing in Japan.

What are the Requirements?

  • A copy of application form
  • A copy of the applicant statement claiming that he/she is a Refugee (any format)
  • Other Materials confirming that the applicant is a refugee, such as magazines or newspapers, any documents, or reports published from the Government
  • Two (2) copies of photo (4cmx3cm, taken within the last three (3) months, with applicant’s name on the backside) 

Must present if the applicant has any following documents:

  • Passport or Certificate of Status of Residence 
  • Residence card
  • Any Landing permission

For more details, please check the Immigration Bureau of Japan

The Flow of Application

  1. Submit the necessary documents for the application.
  2. Interview with a Refugee Inquirer (Nanmin Chousa-kan). After the application is processed, the staff from the immigration office will call to inform the schedule of the interview. A Refugee Inquirer (Nanmin Chousa-kan), who is a staff member of the Immigration Bureau will handle the interview. After some fact-finding by the interview, they will notify the applicant of the result whether he or she will be recognized as a refugee or not.
  3. Grant of Refugee Status

If rejected

  • Make an appeal

If the application is rejected, the applicant can appeal (Igimoushitate) within seven (7) days after the result. Therefore, he or she must submit the appeal application form within seven (7) days since the notification of the initial application result.  

  • Appeal interview

The applicant has the right to oral pleading and hearing, so he/she can request for it. The hearing with Refugee Examination Counselors and the interview usually lasts for two (2) hours. Right after the interview, they will notify the applicant of the appeal decision. If rejected, then request for Administrative trial.

  • Request for Administrative Trial

The applicant can request for Judicial review if she/he is not satisfied with the decisions made by the Immigration bureau. Also, she/he can make another appeal if she/he will be rejected for the initial judicial trial. However, she/he will shoulder the court expenses.

What are the things you need to do after receiving refugee status?

For those who received recognition of refugee status with long-term residence status 

Immediately confirm your status of residence and period of stay at the Immigration Bureau. Ask them also the other procedures necessary in order to legally stay in Japan.

For those who received recognition of refugee status with short-term stay residence status

You need to apply for change status, and the following documents will be required.

  1. Application form for change of status of residence
  2. Certificate of Alien Registration
  3. A written statement (explain that although you do not have a competent guarantee, you wish to receive permission to change your status of residence, etc.)

Rights and Benefits authorized to Refugee Status

  1. Protection from refoulement 
  2. Entitled to resident status. That means he/she can work and stay long-term in Japan. 
  3. Can apply for a Refugee Travel Document. Having this document, a refugee can travel to other countries.
  4. Entitled of healthcare insurance
  5. Entitled to receive equal benefits of Japanese citizens in terms of employment and educational services.
  6. Will not be tighten up from the requirements for permission for Permanent Residence.

Despite a large number of asylum-seekers in Japan are not yet granted as refugees by the government, yet still, applicants for this visa status are surprisingly arising each year. Perhaps they want to use this visa to work in Japan or as an opportunity to get a permanent residency.

Regardless of what your purpose is. Remember, to be eligible for refugee status, you must possess the four refugee criteria with strong evidence that you truly suffered a well-founded fear from persecution.

Some may try to give you wrong assumptions, be careful not to be misled by them.

We hope this article helps you get the rightful information you need about the Recognition of Refugees Status in Japan. You could also find other helpful information about visas and work on our website FAIR Work in Japan.

If you have questions, you can ask us for free or leave a comment in the comment section below.

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  • Comments (9)

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  1. Hello to every one, it’s really a pleasant for me
    to pay a visit this website, it contains valuable Information.

    • Shunya

    Thanks for your comment.

    • James

    Hello please tell me. Japan accept refugee Case in these days. February 2020.

    • Shunya

    It depends on your situation. But nowadays, the Japanese law is opening to refugee visa.

    • Yaha

    I have travel document can I apply for refugee visa

    • Shunya

    Thank you for your comment.
    It depends on where you are from

    • Sangita

    Iwas in studevisa and overstayed
    I’m pregnant and decided to be single mom
    Can I apply for refugee for me and my unborn child

    • nesah

    Only the Japanese government has the right to determine whether you are a refugee or not. As mentioned in the article, there are only four criteria to be considered as a refugee.

    • Manoj gc

    I have student visa can I change