For prospective students whose Japanese ability is not sufficient to directly enter higher education the process begins with applying to a language school.
Applying to a Language School
Long-term Japanese language courses that prepare students for higher education start in April for 1- or 2-year courses and October for 1.5-year courses. However, prospective students need to apply well in advance to allow time to apply for a student visa. Technically, there are two application routes.
- The education institution at which the student wishes to enroll makes an application to the Japanese Immigration Bureau on behalf of the student for a Certificate of Eligibility (“CoE”). This CoE required to apply for a student visa at the Japanese Embassy in the student’s home country.
- The student applies directly to the Japanese Immigration Bureau for the CoE once they have gained acceptance to a language school. The CoE can only be issued in Japan, so you will need someone in Japan to help you with the process. Once the CoE is issued the student goes to the Japanese embassy in their home country and makes an application for a student visa.
There is no advantage to the latter route, which is why all language schools assume that an application for a CoE on behalf of the student is part of the enrollment process. Exact dates will differ by school, but here’s an idea of how the process for an April school entry might look like.
Entering Higher Education Directly
Foreign students whose Japanese language ability is such that they do not need to study at a language school (or who opt to study at a university that offers courses in English) have two choices:
- Enter Japan on a tourist visa to take the EJU and/or university entrance examination. If they gain entrance to university during their stay they will be able to convert their tourist visa to a student visa in Japan.
- Take the EJU outside Japan and apply to specialist schools or universities from abroad. If successful they can begin the application process for the CoE but will ideally need to have a contact in Japan for the reasons given above. Note that the EJU can only be taken in a limited number of Asian cities and the number of universities that will admit a student based purely on a foreign EJU score is limited, and so the student will likely have to travel to Japan for interviews and/or individual university examinations.