Getting into Japan with a criminal record
March 28, 2007 1:11 PM Subscribe
So I have a small issue with my criminal record and obtaining a Japanese student visa.
posted by anonymous to law & government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if anyone will really be able to answer this question, but I will ask anyway.
I will be heading to Japan this fall as a graduate researcher, which requires me to apply for a student visa to stay in the country for two or more years. As part of the visa application process, I must fill out a form called "Application for Certificate of Eligibility."
It is a particularly bureaucratic document that requests all the standard names, addresses and personal history one would expect to provide during a visa application. This includes a small portion that asks, "Do you have any criminal record (if yes please explain)" and then provides a very, very tiny blank line for explanation.
I do in fact have a criminal record, though it was all acquired before the age of 21. No drug charges, nor violent crimes. A few theft and vandalism misdemeanors is all, but it's still more of a record than I'd like to have when applying for a visa to live in a foreign country.
I want to be honest on my application, but I also have a huge interest in my graduate school, which put me through an incredibly trying application process, and I don't want to forfeit my dreams and goals because I can't get a visa (I've already made it through the most demanding part of the grad. school ordeal, I just want my visa!). So I'm considering simply bubbling in the "No" instead of the "Yes."
This seems like a horrible idea--except there's one catch--I've done this before. The last time I lived in Japan I also required a student visa, and that time I lied, bubbling in "No," when prompted on my criminal background. It may have been a bad idea, but my certificate was approved, no problem, and I had a visa in days. I'm tempted to do the same thing this time around, but I'm strongly compelled to be honest, as lying on any part of the application is a disqualification.
So here's the questions, in order of importance: how much does a criminal record hurt my chances of getting a student visa in Japan? If I should choose to circle "Yes," how should I explain this, and what will the people evaluating my application be looking for in that tiny blank? What could i possibly write in that space that would explain multiple juvenile misdemeanors? Should I tell my university about the problem? Any other suggestions on how to deal with this?
I'm currently working on expunging these things from my record, but it's time consuming and expensive.
Please keep any comments relating to the morality of lying on a visa application to yourself. Also, comments along the lines of "you should have thought about this when you were breaking the law," aren't necessary, as we all make mistakes and I've had plenty of time to think about mine.