(Note 6) Nationals of countries having visa exemptions allowing stays of up to 6 months under bilateral visa exemption arrangements who intend to stay in Japan for more than 90 days must apply to the Ministry of Justice for an extension of the term of stay (Regional Immigration Bureau). The ministry's decision on whether to grant the extension is based on a review of national law enforcement agencies' reports on the applicant and other relevant factors. There is no charge for this application process.
In addition, those nationals who require a residence permit for work purposes are also eligible to apply for one. However, there is no guarantee that your request will be granted. You should consider the cost of the permit as well as its likelihood of being issued before making your application.
Those who qualify can obtain a multiple-entry permit valid for 3 years from the date of issue. A new application needs to be made 60 days before the current permit expires. You may be required to provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and your family while you are in Japan.
If you do not have a job when you arrive in Japan but would like to find employment, it may be difficult without a valid passport. It is best to apply for a permit before you need to travel or if your status changes during your stay.
Those who remain in Japan beyond the period permitted should apply for a new entry permit.
So there you have it. If you wish to relocate to Japan, you must first obtain a visa. If you wish to come for 6 months (180 days) and are on the aforesaid Visa Exempt list, go ahead and do so. However, if you want to stay longer or visit again, you will need a new visa.
The good news is that it is not difficult to get a visa for Japan. The Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. offers a simple website where you can apply for a visa online. You can use this site to apply for both business and tourist visas. It is important to note that not everyone who visits Japan stays for 180 days or more. So make sure you request a visa that is valid for your intended length of stay.
Your job search website may be able to help out with some visa queries. Many countries have trade agreements with Japan so perhaps looking into those agreements could yield some results. Of course, if you know anyone who has recently moved to Japan, then ask them for advice about the visa process.
If your family intends to stay in Japan for more than 90 days, you must get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for a Dependent Visa, which is only available to your dependent husband and children. He will need to apply for this certificate if he wants them to be able to remain in Japan.
There are several ways for your spouse to be granted a COE. The easiest way is to find a job that requires a Japanese work permit. If your employer offers such employment, they can file an application on your behalf. The labor agency representing your spouse's employer should be able to provide you with the details. You may also be able to do this yourself by contacting the agency directly.
The next option is to file an application with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Japanese Embassy where you are applying. They will be able to advise you on what documentation is required and how to proceed with the process.
The final option is to hire a lawyer to handle all the paperwork for you. This is probably not necessary unless you have no other choice but to file the application yourself. The cost of hiring a lawyer should be included in the price tag of your ticket.
In any case, it is important to remember that the COE is just a document that allows your dependent to remain in Japan.