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Japan Visa: How Can I Get a Visa to Work?

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Foreigners who want to enter Japan for the purpose is to reside or obtain employment or to engage in any activity required to have a valid visa. There are more than 20 visa statuses or residence status in Japan which differ in the authorized activities. Therefore, you should have to determine the type of visa that is right for you, as well as to understand the entire application process.

Applying for a visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country will require you to provide the necessary documents. One of these documents is the COE or Certificate of Employment.

What is COE?

Under the condition of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, a foreigner who wishes to enter Japan other than “Temporary Visitor,” shall be examined by the Minister of Justice beforehand whether he/she meets the landing conditions related to the status of residence he/she is applying. A Certificate of Eligibility is issued once a foreigner fulfills the landing criteria and acknowledges that the intended activities are relevant to the status of residence. Presenting this certificate helps the issuance for an actual visa and landing permission easier and quicker. However, possession of COE does not guarantee that you automatically get the visa.

Your visa sponsor will apply for COE to the nearest Immigration office in Japan on your behalf. It could be your relative, employer, or school, etc.

Reference:
Immigration Bureau’s Website

Generally, those applying for Japan visa outside Japan need to obtain a COE. However, in the following event, an application for change of status of residence is required. If a foreigner:

  • wants to engage in another activity that is beyond his/her current residency status
  • wishes to terminate the current authorized activity and to engage in a new activity
  • has denied Japanese citizenship and desire to continue residing in Japan
  • wishes to acquire permanent residence status.

Now, let’s learn the application process of each type of Japan visa.

Engineer・Humanities・International Service Visa

Applying for this type of visa requires you to have a hosting organization or company in Japan who is willing to hire you and to sponsor your visa application. If you are applying this outside Japan, you need to have a COE or Certificate of Eligibility. But if you are already in Japan you need to apply for a change of status of residence. Here’s the example of occupations under this type of status of residence

Engineer
Software Engineer, System Engineer, Computer Programmer, Game Programmer, Development Engineer, Automobile Engineer, Project Manager in the field of IT, software, computer, technology, science, architecture, biotechnology, construction, automobile and so on.
Humanities
Accounting, Economic Analyst, Financial Analyst, HR (Human Resources), Legal business, Trading business
International Service
Teacher and instructor of a foreign language, Translator, Interpreter, PR (Public Relations), Fashion or interior design, Product development, Overseas transactions, Copywriting


You are required to prepare the necessary documents for the application of this type of visa.
Confirmation about your experience and qualifications:

  • Resume, C/V
  • Documents which certify your educational background such as University Diploma, Certificate of Graduate
  • Certificate of Employment issued by your previous employer
  • JLPT Certificate
  • Evidence for the applicant’s job in Japan and the terms and conditions:
  • Documents to show your occupation, type of work/job and monthly salary for the job in Japan like the Employment Agreement issued and signed by the employer)
  • Data from the host company/organization:
  • Company Brochure
  • Certificate of Company Registration (Touki Jiko Shomeisho).
  • Financial Statement as of the last fiscal year-end.
    *For a newly established company that cannot provide the financial statement for the last fiscal year, must provide a business plan for 1-year, notification of the establishment,
  • Payment slip for Withholding Tax (for the past 3 months before the application) or Application for
  • Payment of Withholding Income Tax on a Semiannual
  • Records for Salary Payment and Withholding Tax for the last year (Hotei-chosho-gokei-hyo).

References:
Immigration Bureau Website
I-socia Advisors

Specified Skills Visa

The recently implemented type of working visa, the specified skills visa has two classifications, SSV1 and SSV2. The second classification, which is the SSV2, enables a foreign national to bring his/her family and may be able to apply for indefinite residency status in the future. However, it will require a higher level of skills. Obtaining either of the two classifications, SSVI or SSV2 will be required to take specific skills and language examinations or other evaluation methods. To have an overview of how to obtain a visa, check the outline below.
Outline of the application process.

  • Take the skills evaluation exams and Japanese language test
  • After you passed the exams, find an accepting organization
  • Signed a contract from an accepting organization
  • The accepting will apply for your COE or certificate of employment at the Regional Immigration Bureau in Japan
  • Once you received the COE, you can start your application for the specified skills visa in the
  • Japanese Embassy or consulate in your country.
  • Then wait for the issuance of the visa.


Please read “Japan’s New Specified Skills Visa in April 2019” and the “Specified Skills No. 1 Evaluation Test” for more details about this type of visa.

References:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Technical Intern Training Program

The Technical Intern Training Program (技能実習制度 Ginou Jisshuu Seido) is another way of accepting foreign workers in Japan in the form of an internship program. The main objective of this program is to provide training by transferring skill, knowledge, and technology experience for the qualified trainees and what they acquired in Japan will then contribute to the economic development of their home country.

There are two ways of accepting technical intern trainees, through individual enterprise and supervising organization.

Individual Enterprise
A setup where implementing organizations in Japan (business enterprise and other businesses) accept employees from overseas local subsidiaries, joint-venture companies, or trading partners and conduct technical intern training.
Supervising Organization
Non-profit supervising organizations (chambers of commerce, etc.) accept Technical Intern Trainees and the training is conducted at each implementing organization.

The flow of the Technical Intern Training Program

Technical Intern Training (i) (1st Year)

Lecture 

(2 months at implementing organization or supervising organization)

Japanese Language Training

Guides to Life in Japan

Immigration Control Act and Labor Law

Knowledge regarding the Work Type

Practical training

Implementing organization conducts training

* Supervising organization type: visiting guidance, inspection by supervising organizations

Technical Intern Training (ii) (2nd and 3rd year)

Practical Training

  • Change or acquisition of the status of residence (before entry)
  • Renew the period of stay (after the 2nd year)
  • Back to your home country temporarily (after the 3rd year)

Technical Intern Training (iii)(4th and 5th year)

Practical training

  • Change or acquisition of the status of residence (before entry)
  • Renew the period of stay (after the 4th year)
  • Back to home country (after the 5th year)

Reference:
Japan International Training Cooperation Organization

Working Holiday Visa

Only 22 countries can participate in the working holiday program. Participants can stay 12 months in Japan and may extend another 6 months if permitted. The government allows the working visa holder to work in the country to sustain his/her financial needs while traveling in the country. To obtain this type of visa, you should do the following steps.

1. You must be a qualified participant for the working holiday visa.

  • Must be 18-30 years old
  • A citizen from one of the countries participates in this program.
  • Can financially support the travel expenses.
  • Good physical and mental health.
  • No criminal record.

2. Gather the requirements for the visa application.

  • Fill out the application form.
  • Prepare the necessary documents such as passport, ID photo, an outline of planned activities in Japan, proof of a financial statement, medical certificate

3. After you have gathered all the requirements needed for the application, then submit it to the Japan Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

4. Prepare for a scheduled interview at the Embassy.

5. Wait for the result of your application.

Reference:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Student Visa

Student Visa is a non-working visa, so typically your purpose to enter Japan is not generating income but rather to study in the Japanese language school or university.

There are to ways to acquire a student visa:

  1. File an application for a visa directly to an overseas Japanese embassy or consulate. (without COE)
  2. The institution in which the international student is scheduled to enroll will apply for a Certificate of Eligibility to the nearest immigration office on the international student’s behalf. After the issuance of COE, the international student will take it to the consulate and apply for an actual student visa.

Steps to get a COE:

Confirm acceptance from the school in Japan where your enrollment is scheduled

  1. Request for an application for Certificate of Eligibility to the school
  2. The school will apply for the issuance of Certificate of Eligibility on your behalf to the Regional Immigration Bureau
  3. The Regional Immigration Bureau will verify and review your application
  4. Issuance of COE
  5. The school will send you COE
  6. Apply for a student visa with your certificate of eligibility at the Embassy of Japan or Consulate of Japan in your country
  7. After the issuance of the visa, apply for the landing permission

An international student who granted a status of residence of College Student or Pre-college Student who wish to work part-time should apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted.”

Note that if you have “Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted,” there are restrictions that you must consider such as:

  • Permitted working hours (only 28 hours per week)
  • Working to adult entertainment businesses are prohibited

But for those students enrolled at a university or high-school (4th and 5th-year non-degree graduate programs only) working as a teacher’s assistant or research assistant at the university or high-school, a Permission to Engage in Activity Other than Permitted by the Status of Residence Previous Granted is not required.

Reference:
Study in JAPAN Comprehensive Guide

Permanent Residency

Under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act Article 22 and 22-2, the foreign national can be able to acquire permanent residence status or those who want to change the current status to permanent residence. The applicant can apply once the current resident status expires.

Who can apply?

  1. The applicant himself/herself
  2. The applicant’s legal representative
  3. Or other persons can apply on your behalf
    • a member of staff of the accepting institution, etc.
    • Administrative Scrivener
    • Relative of the applicant

How to apply?

  1. The applicant must fill in the application form for Permanent residence that can be downloadable online at the Immigration Bureau website.
  2. Take note the 2-sheet form must be print out on Japanese Industrial Standards A4 format. Otherwise, the immigration bureau will not accept it.
    If you have any questions regarding how to fill in the form, you may refer to your regional immigration office or immigration information center.
  3. Submit the application form together with the other necessary documents at the regional immigration office (office hours 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

The following are the necessary documents:

  • Letter of Guarantee (format can also be downloadable online at MOJ website)
  • Passport and residence card
  • various certificates such as your family register, your birth certificate, and your marriage certificate
  • recommendation letters from companies and universities
  • employment certificate (if employed)
  • withholding tax allowance certificate or certificate of tax payment
  • Bank certificated stating your remaining balance.
  • And for more other required documents, it is better to inquire at the regional immigration office.

4. Pay a receiving permission fee amounted to 8,000 JPY.

5. You will get the result of your application after six months.

Aside from permanent residency status allows unlimited duration for your stay in Japan, there is also no restriction on the activities you want to engage.

Reference:
Immigration Bureau of Japan

Long-Term Resident Visa

“Long-term resident visa” is granted only on special circumstances, such as to those with Refugees accepted for third-country resettlement, Japanese descent, Japanese relative, child of Japanese, or those who previously married to Japanese national.

Increase your chances of getting the visa approval by fulfilling the requirements, including the supporting documents.

The list of supporting documents you need to secure are:

  • Copy of family registration
  • Marriage certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Documents certifying the status of the foreign national
  • Documents confirming the financial capacity of the foreign national that he/she can support all the expenses during his stay in the country. In case, another person will support, submit the documents showing the financial capacity or income of that person.
  • A letter of guarantee by the person living in Japan

There will be no limitations on the activities for the long-term resident holder. Therefore, you can be able to work at any jobs you want in Japan.

Reference:

Immigration Bureau of Japan

Spouse Visa

If the foreign spouse (husband or wife) who legally married to a Japanese national, applying for a spouse visa in the Japanese Embassy or consulate, should get a COE first. In possession of a COE increases the chances of getting your visa approved. However, if you want to apply for a spouse visa without having a COE, it is also possible.

For the application of COE, you need to provide the following supporting documents:

  1. Documents confirming that the applicant is a spouse of the Japanese national such as resident card, spouse’s family register or koseki tohon, resident registration certificate or jumin-hyo
  2. Documents certifying the profession and income of the applicant or his/her spouse such as tax certificates: nouzei-shoumeisho and kazei-shoumeisho
  3. A letter of guarantee by the person living in Japan.

On the other hand, if a foreigner currently has a residence status in Japan and married a Japanese national, she/he can change her current residence status to a Spouse of Japanese National by applying for a change of status of residence at the immigration bureau after notifying the Japanese public office about the marriage. In this case, a COE is not required.

Reference:
Immigration Bureau of Japan

Refugee visa

Under the Refugee Convention, a person must meet the four (4) criteria to be qualified as a refugee:

  • To be outside the country of one’s nationality
  • To have a well-founded fear of being persecuted
  • The fear of being persecuted is based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion
  • Being unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country owing to such fear.

The government in Japan will decide whether they grant or not the refugee status for each applicant. Learn how to apply for a refugee visa.

  1. The applicant must fill in the 12 pages application form that can be downloadable online.
    Attach the following necessary documents:
  • 1 Copy of an applicant’s statement to affirm that he/she is a refugee
  • Photo (4cm×3cm, must be taken within 3 months before the application procedure) 2
    copies
  • Passport or Certificate of Status of Residence
  • Residence card
    and more.
    *To check the complete list of requirement, you may visit the Immigration Bureau website, here

2. You will wait until 6 months to know the outcome of your refugee status application.
3. If the application is rejected, the applicant can file an appeal.

Reference:
Immigration Bureau of Japan

Dependent Visa

The following statuses are the only eligible to apply for a dependent visa in Japan.

  • Professor
  • Artist
  • Religious Activities
  • Journalist
  • Investor/Business Manager
  • Legal/Accounting Services
  • Medical Services
  • Researcher
  • Instructor
  • Engineer
  • Specialist in Humanities/International Services
  • Intra-company Transferee
  • Entertainer
  • Skilled Labor
  • Cultural Activities
  • Student (Graduate School, University, Junior College, Technical School )

If you possessed one of the residence statuses listed above, then you can apply for a dependent visa for your legally married spouse (husband/wife) and your legal children.

If by chance you get an employer in Japan will shoulder the visa application for you and your family, so you will arrive in Japan together with your family. On the other hand, if you want to bring your family yourself, you can only apply them a dependent visa after you arrived in Japan. Here’s what you need to know about the application for the dependent visa.

  1. Apply a Certificate of Eligibility for your dependents.
  2. Once you received your spouse and children Certificate of Eligibility, send it to them
  3. Your spouse and your children will apply for the Japanese dependent visa in your home country

Take into consideration that the dependent visa does not permit your family member to work as a full-time employee in Japan. However, they may be able to engage in part-time jobs, provided that they obtain a “Permission to Engage in Activities Other than that Permitted Under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” from the Immigration Bureau of Japan. The work permit will allow them to work for only 28 hours per week.

Again, if you are outside Japan, you need to apply for a COE, which is an important document to be granted for a visa. However, if you have already possessed a resident status in Japan, you will need to apply for change status.

Some visas stated above will not allow you to work full-time in Japan, but may able to work part-time as long that you can have permission to work. So, if your purpose is to work in Japan, then decide the appropriate visa for you. 

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    • Sagar Joshi

    My father is working in Japan and I also want to go there but my age is 23 so can I go in dependent visa

    • Louie Dychangco

    Thank you so much for this very informative article!! Great read

      • Shunya

      Thank you for the comment! We will continue our job!

    • Arsalan

    Sir I am interested in work visa I am Electronic engineer kindly contact me I need your consultancy.

    • mi

    Hello Sir
    I have applied for Refuzee visa can I apply for this visa Tokutei gonuo Visa

    • Noemie Candari

    Good day! I invited my 2 niece here in Tokyo as tourist visa and they we’re extended because of corona they are graduated in university. Is it possible to change their status to working visa of we find a company to sponsee them? Thank you, hoping for your quick reply.

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