Japan intensifies crackdown on student visa overstayers
Nikkei -- Feb 12
Japan's Immigration Services Agency is to tighten the screening process for issuing student visas, increasing tenfold the number of countries subject to stricter checks starting with foreign nationals applying from April.

Under the measure, which is aimed at preventing foreign nationals from using student visas as a way to gain entry to Japan and work illegally in the country, the agency says it will ask applicants from the expanded list of countries to submit documentation including diplomas and account balance certificates.

After a growing number of foreign nationals have entered Japan and stayed beyond their visa expiration dates, the government has decided to tighten screening procedures to ensure sound growth of foreign nationals working in Japan. The measure is also aimed at promoting use of the country's "specified-skills" work visa program that was introduced in April 2019 but has been underused.

The latest move represents the first major overhaul of Japan's student visa screening system in about three decades.

Currently, students from seven countries -- China, excluding Hong Kong and some other regions, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Mongolia -- are subject to enhanced student visa screening processes. As many nationals of those countries have been found to overstay illegally, Japan requires them to submit multiple documents, including the applicant's highest academic level of diploma, the account balance certificate of a relative who plans to pay for the applicant's living expenses in Japan, and an official document proving the applicant's relationship with the relative.

However, there have been many cases in which foreign students outside this scope have stayed in Japan after graduating from local schools. At the beginning of 2019, foreign nationals who had been allowed to enter Japan for study purposes but overstayed illegally totaled about 4,700, increasing 70% from 2,800 in 2015.

The figure makes student visa overstayers second only to the 47,000 short-term residents who overstay, including many who entered Japan without undergoing screening, and about 9,000 technical trainees, many of whom have gone missing in the country.

Vietnamese nationals account for the highest share of student visa overstayers, totaling 3,065, followed by Chinese and South Koreans, accounting for 1,074 and 148, respectively.

News source: Nikkei
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