Helpline for Foreigners


74 calls came in 4 days!
Over the weekend of 21st and 22nd January 2017 APFS again opened its special helpline for foreign residents between 12:00-17:00. On these occasions APFS supporters, including specialist lawyers, counselors and interpreters providing language support for English, Nepalese, Tagalog and Chinese speakers, gather together and provide direct advice to those phoning in. Armed with a range of reference books on immigration law and the national directory on support groups for foreign residents around the country, the team received a steady flow of calls throughout the day.

The 21st January saw 19 calls to the APFS helpline, with 13 of these being from Nepalese nationals, along with 2 from Iran nationals, and 1 each from American, Philippine, Cameroon and Peruvian nationals. Many of the concerns of the callers involve labor issues, including industrial accidents, unpaid salaries and unfair dismissal. There were also questions on conditions for permanent residence, the process of application for reentry and details of the pension system, international marriage and involvement in a traffic accident. We also received a call with regard to visiting rights to children after a divorce.

On 22nd January APFS received a total of 13 calls, the majority of which were from Nepalese nationals (totaling 11 calls), whilst we also received one call from a Philippine national and a Korean national. There were consultations on a wide range of issues with the majority of these related on this occasion to visa status. There were several inquiries with regard to the eligibility requirements of a skilled labor visa, as well as how to gain permanent residence, visa extensions and issues of refugee applicants. We also received calls upon the issues of unpaid salaries which prevented the individual from being able to pay their rent, and unfair dismissal.

We also received inquiries about what can be done in the case of overstaying one’s visa and becoming an undocumented foreign resident. With calls coming in from all over the country, from Fukuoka to Gunma, the team provided the necessary key information for each case and also directed individuals living far from Tokyo to other support centers and legal advice groups in closer vicinity to their residence. Those living within access of the APFS office we encouraged to visit us directly in order to follow up face to face the issues they are tackling.

The distinct number of calls coming from Nepali nationals is a reflection of the growing numbers of Nepalese residents in Japan. Our Nepali translator was at constant work and often had a line of callers waiting to speak to him. In this way we can see the clear importance of providing helpline support in the native language of foreign residents and it is our hope to extend these languages further in the future. By pooling our skills and knowledge we are able to extend support to those who feel placed in situations where they do not know where to turn and together identify a route towards addressing these challenges.