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2022 Visa Application Process

Japan has begun reducing restrictions on entry by non-resident foreigners to Japan for non-tourist purposes. JCMU will facilitate and sponsor applications for Cultural Activities Visas (CAV) for accepted fall 2022 and AY 2022-23 participants. Details and instructions about the materials required for this process are provided below.

All requested documents must be submitted to our East Lansing office as original documents with authentic signatures (ideally in blue or black ink -- Please, no signatures in pencil!). We cannot accept scans/copies, as these documents will be forwarded to Japan and submitted as part of the application for your Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). 

Visa Application Materials Deadline: Wednesday, April 27, 2022


Stuck on a certain form/questionnaire? Then click the various content below to learn more about a specific part of your CAV post-acceptance requirements.

Applying for your Cultural Activities Visa (CAV)

All Fall 2022 and AY 2022-23 participants will need a Cultural Activities Visa (CAV) (unless they have dual-citizenship with Japan -- If this applies to you, please contact us as soon as possible). 

A visa is a legal document issued to a foreign passport-holder that allows the traveler to legally enter and reside in a different country. JCMU will facilitate the visa application process and act as the sponsoring organization for your time in Japan.

There are two main steps to obtaining your Cultural Activities Visa:

  1. First, we need to obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility”, or COE. This is a document issued by Japanese immigrations and confirms your eligibility to apply for a Cultural Activities Visa. It can take anywhere from four to eight weeks for the Japanese government to issue and send us your COE.
  2. After your COE is issued, we can then apply for your Cultural Activities Visa. The visa will be processed by the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit (CGJ-Detroit) or the nearest appropriate Consulate General of Japan (if you will be outside of the U.S. before attending JCMU). Once approved, the visa is placed within your passport.
    • It can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days for your visa to be issued and your passport to be returned to you after the consulate receives your passport and documents.
    • Those living in the Michigan counties of Macomb, Oakland, or Wayne may be asked to pick up their passports at the CGJ-Detroit.

We will work with you to collect the necessary documentation and information for this process. To ensure you receive your visa in time for the program, it is important that you complete these as soon as possible.

If you would like us to walk you through this process, view the YouTube video tutorial for the CAV application process.

Bank Letter (CAV)

Download a sample bank letter

The “bank letter” is a financial statement from your (or a financial supporter’s) account(s) proving that you will have funds available while you are in Japan. This document is frequently completed incorrectly. Make sure to review this information carefully before sending your materials to JCMU.

While most submit a bank account statement/letter, a financial aid or scholarship award letter may also be used. You can use an account in your name or an account in the name of somebody willing to serve as your financial supporter. There are four important things we look for in the bank letter:

  1. Your letter must show a minimum of $3,500 if you will be at JCMU for one semester or $7,000 if you will be at JCMU for two or more semesters. You can submit multiple letters to reach the required funds.
  2. The account information must be recent and cover the time period you will be in Japan. If you are using a financial aid or scholarship award letter, the aid must be for the semester(s) you will be in Japan.
  3. The document must be signed or notarized in ink pen by an official account representative from the bank or office providing your letter.
  4. For each bank letter you provide, you must also submit a Statement of Financial Support with a matching supporter name. 

Past students have reported issues such as their financial aid award package not being ready or their bank refusing to sign their letter. We encourage you to contact our East Lansing office if problems like this come up for you or if you want to confirm your bank letter is correct before sending it in.

If you would like us to walk you through this process, view the YouTube video tutorial for the CAV bank letter requirement.

Statement of Financial Support

Download the Statement of Financial Support form 

This form indicates who will serve as your financial supporter in Japan. To complete this form, first fill the top section with your information. Afterwards, pass the form off to your listed supporter so that they can complete and sign the bottom portion.

As a note, your supporter MUST match the account holder named on the bank letter you submit. If you are using multiple bank letters belonging to different account holders, then you must submit multiple Statements of Financial Support – one where each accountholder signs off as your supporter. 

Scans of this form will not be accepted – please complete the form in pen and mail or drop off the original pen-signed form to our East Lansing office.

If you would like us to walk you through this process, view the YouTube video tutorial for the Statement of Financial Support.

Personal History Form

Download the Personal History Form

This form indicates your past schooling history. For the top section, please list in ink pen all schools you attended for elementary, middle, and high school. If you do not remember the exact month you graduated, just make your best educated guess. If you attended multiple schools for one level, list only the last school you attended before moving onto the next level. If you attended additional alternative schooling such as vocational school or early college, list it in the “Other K-12 Education” section.

In the bottom section, write in all colleges or universities you both currently attend and have previously attended. For the “To” date for the college or university you are currently attending, make sure to write in “Current” to show that you are currently attending school.

With this form, it is important that there be no gaps in time. For example, some students work for a few years after graduating high school before starting college, which would leave a time gap between high school and their current institution on the form. Should this be the case for you, write in what you were doing under during the gap times, then list the dates. It can be very broad: writing in “Work”, “Living at home”, and “Travel” are all acceptable.

After you have signed and dated the form in ink pen, please mail or drop it off to our East Lansing office.

If you would like us to walk you through this process, view the YouTube video tutorial for the Personal History Form.

Passport ID Photo

You are required to submit one printed passport-style identification photo that will be used on your visa application. The photo should be a 2 in. x 2 in. color photograph. It should be a photo of you taken within the last few months and must be on quality photo paper. There are a number of locations where you can have passport photos professionally taken. Past students have recommended stores like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and FedEx. AAA and most post offices also generally provide passport services.

As a note, this photo is NOT the same as the “ID Photo (digital)” questionnaire on your application. Please review the "Post-Acceptance Questionnaires" section for more information on this photo requirement.

If you would like us to walk you through this process, view the YouTube video tutorial for the Passport ID Photo.

Updated Official Transcript

If the version of this document we have on file for you is unacceptable for visa purposes for any reason, we will contact you and ask you to submit a new one.

You are required to submit an official transcript from your current (or most recent) home institution. JCMU only accepts official transcripts in original hard copy – we cannot accept electronic transcripts. If you have recently transferred, please provide official transcripts from all of the colleges and universities that you have attended over the past two academic years.

For more information, view the YouTube video tutorial for our official transcript requirement.

Updated Dean of Students Reference Form

Download the Dean of Students Reference Form

If the version of this document we have on file for you is unacceptable for visa purposes for any reason, we will contact you and ask you to submit a new one.

First, complete the top portion of the form yourself. The bottom portion of the form should be completed by an office or individual that has access to student academic and judicial records - typically a Dean of Students office or equivalent.

The signature on the bottom portion of the form must be original in ink or an official stamp. We cannot accept a copy. 

For more information, view the YouTube video tutorial for the Dean of Students Reference Form.

Additional Forms for Non-U.S. Citizens

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will have to complete a few additional steps in order to receive your visa. The process differs depending on whether you will be in the U.S. or not prior to your travel to Japan.

If you plan on departing the U.S. prior to the JCMU program start date, then you may have to apply for your visa in the country you will be at. As each situation is different, please contact us right away if this will be the case for you so we can work together on what you will need to do.

If you will be in the U.S. up until the JCMU program start date, then we can apply for your visa on your behalf. In order for us to do so, you will have to submit the following additional documentation:

  • If you are a U.S. permanent resident, you will need to submit a scan or copy of your green card.
  • If you are a U.S. visa holder, you will need to submit current scans or copies of your I-20, I-94, and U.S. visa.

If your country of citizenship does not have a visa fee exemption program in place with Japan, you will also have to submit a visa application fee. To see which countries are exempt from visa fees, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan's website.

If you would like us to walk you through this process, view the YouTube video tutorial for the additional forms you will need to submit.

Following the Rules of Your Visa

As JCMU acts as the guarantor for all of our students’ visas, you are required to adhere to the following rules listed in this video. Visit the "Rules of Your JCMU Visa" webpage for more details about what this entails. 

Final Visa Documentation

The final step in the visa application process requires you to submit the following to the JCMU East Lansing office as soon as possible:

The Visa Application Form is required for in order for the Consulate to complete processing and issue your visa. This form will be pre-filled by JCMU and provided to you. Please review this form very carefully and fill in any missing information. We will attach your provided passport photo, so you do not need to send another one along with your visa application form. Once the form is complete and accurate, sign and date the bottom of the second page in black ink pen. Please note that you must use your current legal information, including name and sex as listed on your passport, in order for the Japanese government officials to approve your form. Your signature must also match the signature in your passport. While necessary for the legal documentation, JCMU will continue to use your correct name if it differs from your legal name in all future correspondence and non-legal matters.

The JCMU Passport Return Address and Release Form indicates where you would like your passport shipped after your visa is issued. Please list an address that you will have access to as late as 1 week prior to your JCMU program arrival date. Please do NOT use a PO Box. This may mean that you will need to select an alternate secure address, such as the home address of a parent, guardian, or trusted friend, in order to complete this form with accurate information. The release at the bottom of the form affirms that you will not hold JCMU responsible for delays, loss, or damage that occur while facilitating your visa application. JCMU will not facilitate your visa application without this portion signed.

The CGJ Authorization Form and the CGJ Release of Liability Form give JCMU permission to submit your passport and documents to the Consulate General of Japan for processing and return. Without these forms, we cannot apply for your Japanese visa on your behalf.

Submitting Your Passport and Documents

To Submit via Delivery Service:

We recommend using a trackable expedited delivery service option (such as FedEx or UPS) insured for at least $200 to ship your passport and completed documents to the JCMU East Lansing office

MSU International Center
427 N Shaw Lane, Rm 110
East Lansing, MI 48824-1035

To Submit in Person:

If you prefer to submit your passport and documents in person at the JCMU East Lansing office, please use the advising appointment scheduling tool provided on the Advising page of the JCMU website. Select 'N/A - In-person Advising' and indicate 'passport drop-off' in the questions section. We will review your request and confirm staff availability by email.

We will strive to accommodate all requests Monday - Friday during our regular advising hours. If you need to arrange a time outside of those hours, please contact us to see if another time can be arranged outside these hours.