Members of the Tsukuba International Network (TIN) were sorely disappointed to find out that their concerted efforts to petition the Immigration authorities to set up an office in Tsukuba have been spurned. Instead of a branch office being set up in Tsukuba, in addition to the 2 small offices in Hitachi and Kashima that focused on the ports there, all is being consolidated into just one office in Mito. This will do nothing to help the foreign residents of Tsukuba and southern Ibaraki to reduce the hassles involved in getting visa renewals, reentry permits, etc. In fact, as the new office is located in the center of Mito, with little if any parking available, in some respects it will be even more inconvenient than the previous option in Hitachi, which was easier to reach by car. It will, however, be somewhat more convenient if you go by train.
The rationale given to this decision was that as a rule, each prefecture is only supposed to have one immigration office anyway. And since Mito is the prefectural capital, it was given the nod over Tsukuba, even though more foreigners live in southern Ibaraki than in the Mito area.
In Jan. 1997, the Alien Times collected over 1000 signatures on a petition to the city to have them request a branch office be established. The city adopted the proposal and officially put in a request for that to be done. In more recent years, TIN pushed hard, formally petitioning the prefecture as well as directly to the Immigration Agency. This push included facts and figures, along with endorsement from research institutions, etc., but all to no avail - or at least it would seem that way.
There is still a chance that the Immigration office will in the end set up a small office to be manned by someone from the Mito office on a regular basis, such as one day a week or something like that. This would be for certain procedures only, such as simple reentry permits, visa renewals, and the like. So, while the international community in Tsukuba is disappointed in this outcome, TIN is certainly not going to give up its efforts in improving life in Tsukuba for all internationals.
The address of the new office is: Tokyo Regional Immigration Mito Branch Office, No. 3 Prince Bldg., 1st Floor, 2-9-12 Jonan, Mito-shi, and the telephone number is 029-300-3601. The flyer announcing the opening states that there is not enough parking at the site, and so "please use public transportation when visiting the office." That would seem to imply that there is some sort of parking available, but not very much. There are, of course, pay parking lots close by if you need to go by car. If you go by train from Tsuchiura (Arakawaoki, etc.), it is a 5-minute walk from Mito Station. Go out the South Gate and proceed across the river. Go left at the first street. The immigration office will be on your right about 400 meters down. You'll walk past a small park and the "No. 1 Prince Building" before coming to "No. 3 Prince Building". The hours they can accept applications are from 9 to 11 am and 1 to 3 pm Mondays through Fridays.
Map to Mito Immigration Office. Click for a larger image.
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