Foreigners must obtain a work visa in order to get paid in Japan. However, there are various types of work visas, all with different screening conditions and application conditions. Only one work visa can be obtained per person, and the activities that can be performed in Japan are limited by the details submitted during the work visa application.
For example, if you received a work visa as an interpreter/translator, on your current visa you cannot establish and run a company, or work as a cook at a restaurant. If you want to change the type of activities you are permitted to do, you need to change to a corresponding work visa category. In the event of a change, you must apply to the Minister of Justice for permission to change your status of residence, in accordance with the procedures specified by an Ordinance of the Ministry of Justice.
※Care must be taken with Short-term Stay visas -- such as visas to visit relatives, business visas, and tourist visas -- as working and getting paid on a Short-term Stay visa is not allowed.
※Also, unskilled labor -- such as part-time work at convenience stores and restaurants -- is not allowed on a work visa.
Obtaining a Work Visa
Work visas are reviewed by the Immigration Bureau to determine if they meet specific criteria, which varies depending on the type of work visa. For example, when applying for the “Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services” visa, the work that applicants will perform as an employee needs to match the permitted activities for that type of visa. In addition, applicants will be asked whether they have a relevant degree, whether their job history is relevant to their proposed employment, and whether they will be given salaries equal to or higher than those of their Japanese counterparts.
Depending on the type of work visa, necessary documents, application conditions, and the examination period will all differ. It takes around 1 to 3 months to obtain a work visa, and since all applications are reviewed individually, additional documents during the review process may be required. Therefore, it is necessary to allow enough time to prepare and submit the application. In the event a visa is not granted, the process to request a hearing regarding the reasons why can take time, effort, and preparation of extra materials.
We recommend using the services of our in-house visa experts.
In addition, when a foreigner obtains a work visa in Japan for the first time, a formal employment contract (notice of working conditions) with the hiring company is required. Employment contracts (notice of working conditions) contain information about job descriptions, employment locations, working periods, positions, and salaries. Foreigners must submit these documents with their application to prove that they meet the requirements for a work visa.
In sum, obtaining a work visa is not simply a matter of submitting documents. It is necessary to fully understand the situation of the applicant and the hiring company and prepare an appropriate application.
Work Visa Application
To apply for a work visa, whether from abroad or within Japan, the foreign applicant first needs to have an employment contract with the hiring company or institution, etc. If applying from abroad, the Japanese company needs to submit an “Application for Certificate of Eligibility (COE)” to the Immigration Bureau. If applying within Japan, the applicant needs to submit a “Change of Status of Residence” that corresponds to the appropriate work visa category.
If you have a "College Student" visa after graduating from a Japanese university, you need to change from a "Student" visa to the appropriate work visa. Even if you have a “Dependent” visa, you can apply for a work visa if you meet its requirements. Please note that you will not be able to work until you receive a new residence card with the work visa status. In addition, an application for “Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence” (“non-qualified activity permit”) will allow you to work up to 28 hours if approved.
There are various types of work visas, each with different conditions. If you work outside of your approved work visa, you must obtain a non-qualified activity permit as mentioned above.
You can also change jobs after obtaining a work visa. If you change jobs, you must submit a notification to the Immigration Bureau within 14 days from the date of the job change. If the contents new job no longer applies to your current work visa status, you will need to apply for a work qualification certificate or apply for a Change of Status of Residence.
The Immigration Bureau issues work visas. There are main offices and branch offices in each region, so foreign applicants need to go to their local immigration office (with jurisdiction over their place of residence) and submit the required documents to complete the application procedures.
A work visa can also be obtained by an administrative scrivener via proxy application. Administrative scriveners with the permission of the Ministry of Justice can submit visa applications on behalf of their customers, submit required documents, and receive results of the examination.
Our company IMS Legal Professional Corporation offers full application support and can submit your application to the Immigration Bureau on your behalf.
List of working visas
- Professor (Examples: university professor, assistant professor, assistant, etc.)
- Artist (Examples: composers, songwriters, artists, sculptors, craftspeople, photographers, etc.)
- Religious activities (Examples: religious people such as monks, bishops, missionaries, etc.)
- Journalist (Examples: newspaper journalists, magazine journalists, editors, news cameramen and photographers, announcers, etc.)
- Business manager (Examples: company presidents, directors and officers, etc.)
- Legal/Accounting services (Examples: attorneys, judicial scriveners, public accountants, tax accountants, etc. licensed in Japan)
- Medical services (Examples: physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, etc. licensed in Japan)
- Researcher (Examples: researchers, investigators, etc. at research institutes, etc.)
- Instructor (Examples: teachers, etc. at elementary schools, intermediate schools and high schools)
- Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services (Examples: scientific engineers, IT engineers, foreign language teachers, interpreters, copywriters, designers, etc.)
- Intra-company transferee (Examples: people transferred to the Japanese branch, such as the head office of the same company, etc.)
- Nursing care (Example: certified care workers)
- Entertainer (Examples: musicians, actors, singers, dancers, athletes, models, etc.)
- Skilled labor (Examples: chefs specializing in the food of a foreign country, animal trainers, pilots, sports trainers, sommeliers, etc.)
- Specified skilled worker (Work-ready foreign nationals who possess certain expertise and skills in certain industrial fields.)
- Technical intern training (Examples: Technical interns accepted from overseas subsidiaries or supervising organization, etc.)
What IMS Can Do For You ~ Full Support Services
IMS Legal Professional Corporation is a company made up of certified administrative scriveners. In addition to Japanese, our services are also available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. We provide consulting services such as contacting foreign applicants and their hiring companies, creating application forms, information regarding necessary documents, and creation of those documents.
From application start to finish, our services cover everything in-between and reduce the time and labor burden on our customers.