Changing from SOFA Status

Last update: November 2018

If you are currently on SOFA status in Japan but will be separating from the military or losing your SOFA status, please follow the procedures outlined below to obtain a student visa.

A. Separating From the Military From Outside Japan

If you separate from the military from outside Japan, you need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for a student visa. Please see the Applying for a Student Visa section of our website for instructions on how to apply and for regulations pertaining to visa-seeking students. TUJ will submit your visa documents to the Japanese Immigration Bureau on your behalf, and will contact you once we have received a response from Immigration.

B. Separating From the Military From Within Japan

If you are able to separate from the military from within Japan, you can apply for your student visa in Japan. In order to qualify for student status, you must be admitted to a full-time program of study at TUJ.

No later than 14 days after your official separation date/loss of SOFA status, you must make an appointment and meet with the TUJ visa coordinator ( with the required documents listed below. After meeting with the visa coordinator, you need to submit the completed application with all supporting documents to Immigration no later than 30 days after your separation date/loss of SOFA status. You must complete the entire student visa acquisition process and have your student visa in your possession within 60 days of your official separation date/loss of SOFA status or you will be in Japan illegally with no formal status. As a result, it is imperative you act quickly to meet the visa coordinator and go to immigration within the above stated deadlines.

1. Application for Permission to Acquire Status of Residence

Please print out and complete the Application for Permission to Acquire Status of Residence.

2. Official Discharge Letter

DD-214 or an official document indicating your separation from the military and that you will not be renewing your SOFA status. If you are under SOFA status as a dependent of a family member in the military, then TUJ needs to see an official letter from the military stating your name and the effective date of your separation from your family's SOFA status.

3. Acceptance Letter From TUJ

If you are a newly accepted student, the TUJ visa coordinator will provide you with your acceptance letter from TUJ. If you are a current student, please prepare a Certificate of Enrollment and Unofficial Transcript issued from the Registrar's Office and also make an appointment with an academic advisor to have your Degree Progress Report completed.

4. Proof of Financial Viability

Documents should show that you have sufficient funds to cover tuition, living expenses and fees for one year which TUJ estimates to be ¥3,000,000. You can use your GI BILL COE for this requirement.

5. Valid Passport

6. One Passport Size Photo (4 cm high x 3 cm wide)

Photo must show a clear, full front view of your face from the bottom of the chin to the top of the hair against a white or off-white background. Photo must be in color, printed on photo paper and taken within the last 3 months. 2 inch x 2 inch photo can be submitted if it is an official passport photo.

7. Statement of Correctness and Understanding

Please print out and complete the Statement of Correctness and Understanding.