For immigration to Japan, it is important to understand the difference between a visa and residence certificate. The Japanese Immigration System is a different system when compared to other countries. Obtaining a visa for Japan is governed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To obtain the residence certificate – i.e. the permission to stay and/or work in Japan – this is governed by the Ministry of Legal Affairs. Therefore, foreigners seeking to stay longer than their visa period, or coming from countries participating in the visa waiver program, need to obtain the residence certificate.
How Can I obtain a Residence Certificate for Japan?
There are several ways a foreigner can obtain a residence certificate for Japan. This includes, but is not limited to: (1) Working for a domestic corporation or subsidiary of foreign based company; (2) Becoming a Japanese spouse or through Japanese parents in Japan; or (3) Being a managing director of your own company in Japan.
NOTE: The “Investor status” is no longer available and has changed to “Business Manager status”.
Japan Announces the Digital Nomad Visa Program
Although the government just announced the new Digital Nomad Visa program for Japan - a foreigner can remain in Japan for just 6 months. This new visa category permits you to work remotely and will start from March 2024. It has strict requirements, including annual earnings of JPY 10 Million (roughly $68,000 USD). I will discuss Japan’s Digital Nomad Visa program on another occasion.
How to obtain residency as a Managing Director or Business Manager in Japan
Because most foreigners interested in living in Japan have no Japanese employer and do not have a Japanese spouse, the most common choice is gaining residency as a Managing Director or Business Manager.
You can obtain the Business Manager residency status in Japan by establishing your own company. Core requirements include:
- The company’s capital amount is more than JPY5,000,000/person, or the company confirms to hire more than two employees;
- The company has an office in Japan;
- The applicant maintains more than three years’ experience as CEO or Executive of the company; and
- The company provides compensation at the same level as the industry standard in Japan.
Additional requirements and considerations for the business manager residence certificate in Japan include:
- Demonstrating this amount from your own investment. JPY 5M must be in cash, not a contribution in kind. If using contribution in kind, an applicant must show additional cash satisfying the minimum amount to maintain living costs for at least a year. NOTE: If using the second choice, employees must already be able to work in Japan, meaning they are Japanese or Foreigners already having the residence status enabling working for this company. Not foreign nationals coming from other countries and needing to obtain residence status.
- If the applicant wants to rent and use property for both residence and business purposes, they have to demonstrate physical separation of office and home spaces. In addition, you will need to submit a lease agreement rented by the company, not individual.
- If the applicant received a degree relating to the company’s business, this academic period would be counted towards the requirements for “experience”. For this, you will be required to submit the Articles of Incorporation or stockholder meeting minutes demonstrating your stakeholder experience in the company. Additionally, the Immigration Bureau requires a business plan demonstrating that the company will make a profit and grow its business. This is not an easy task for a person having no experience to operate the company in his country even if the applicant received a business related degree in University.
Purchasing Property cannot be used to obtain Business Manager Status
Can I purchase an Akiya home in Japan and rent it out through Airbnb?
I receive many queries as an Ambassador at Relocate.world from individuals who want to purchase vacant property (i.e. Akiya Homes) and remain temporarily in Japan or for their retirement. It is true that many vacant and cheap real properties exist in Japan and foreigners can buy these abandoned homes at a reasonable price. However, in brief, this is considered a passive investment, and the Japanese immigration bureau will not permit foreigners to obtain a Business Manager status simply by showing you manage a property. In addition, property cannot be considered as a valid source of capital for the company.
Read more about purchasing an Akiya home in Japan.
Obtaining a License for a Guest House or Ryokan in Japan
If a foreigner wants to make lodging or guest facility in Japan, you must obtain a new license for the guest house, ryokan, or hotel management. This is not a simple and straightforward process. Therefore, it is better to purchase the facility that used to operate as a guest house, ryokan or hotel, and obtain the license certificate or at least some evidence that this property was used for this purpose from a real estate and property agent.
Before purchasing real estate for the purpose of operating a guest house or ryokan in Japan, it is encouraged to speak with a qualified professional who can navigate you through this process. In addition, if you are interested in obtaining a license to operate or rent out property in Japan, incorporate a company, and residence status in Japan, please consult with professional like me via Relocate.world
Junko maintains 16 years experience practicing Japanese Immigration law as a licensed professional (Gyosei Shoshi) and California Lawyer. She helps foreigners to obtain visas, residence certificates, and supports foreign based entities to establish corporations in both Japan and the US.
👉 Contact Junko today for an initial consultation