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How To Obtain A Work Visa In Japan

How to Obtain a Work Visa in Japan

Working in Japan is attractive for many reasons. The country has a powerful global economy, but an aging and declining domestic workforce has made many Japanese companies look abroad for workers.

Foreigners coming to Japan to work can usually look forward to higher wages than many other countries, great Social Security benefits and job security, a high standard of living, and access to public services, such as top-notch health care. Japanese culture, history and cuisine are also strong draws.

If you are a foreigner interested in working and living in the Land of the Rising Sun, here is what you need to know about obtaining a Japanese work visa.

Is a Work Visa Required in Japan?

In a word, yes. Just to visit Japan for tourism or business, citizens of some countries need a tourist visa. Others may not need a visa for stays up to 90 days.

However, tourist visas cannot be used as work visas or converted to work visas while in the country. And foreign nationals need a work visa before arriving in Japan, working through the Japanese embassy or consulate closest to you in your country. You’ll also need the sponsorship of the company, university, research institute, board of education or school that will give you work.

The Embassy of Japan lists work visa categories for applicants. These include: Professor, Artist, Religious Activities, Journalist, Investor/Business Manager Legal/Accounting Service, Medical Service, Researcher, Instructor. Engineer, Humanities Specialist/International Services, Intracompany Transferee, Entertainer, Skilled Labor, Highly Skilled Professionals

If you are unsure which category you fall into, Relocate can help. Ask a question: Submit general inquiries to Advisors in Japan or find your perfect Advisor.

Types of Japanese Work Visas

Working through the Japanese embassy or consulate, you can apply for several different kinds of work visas, including a specified skilled visa, a working visa, the JET Program and a working holiday visa.

You can also get a spousal visa to engage in paid work (renewable every three years) if you are married to a Japanese national or permanent resident.

In April 2019, Japan introduced a new visa known as the specified skilled visa (tokutei ginou) to address labor shortages in different industries in the country, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Airport ground handling and aircraft maintenance
  • Building cleaning
  • Construction
  • Electronics and electric machinery
  • Fisheries
  • Food and beverage
  • Hotels and hospitality
  • Industrial machinery
  • Materials processing
  • Nursing care
  • Restaurants and catering
  • Shipbuilding
  • Vehicle maintenance

The specified skilled visa 1 (SSV1) is good for five years but only allows limited renewals, and foreign workers with these visas cannot bring their families into the country.

Introduced in 2021, specified skilled visa 2 (SSV2) allows visa holders indefinite renewals and permission to bring family members into the country. Both visas require certain levels of proficiency in the Japanese language.

How to Obtain a Japanese Work Visa

The process of obtaining a Japanese work visa may vary as far as documentation, visa length and eligibility requirements, depending on which category of working visa you are applying for. But generally, you need to have a work sponsor in Japan and go to a Japanese embassy or consulate to fill out the necessary paperwork and provide any needed documentation, such as university degrees. You can also find out all you need to know about Japanese immigration requirements.

Not sure what documentation to provide? Request consultations directly with qualified Japanese Advisors.

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You will learn from the closest Japanese embassy or consulate what is required for a specific work visa. Anyone who enters Japan on a long-term basis, including for work, usually must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the country’s Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau. Since it takes a few months to arrange and work visa applications often depend on having one, you should obtain your COE before handing in your work visa application. Your prospective employer in Japan actually handles this on your behalf through a domestic immigration office, but requires information and documentation from you to do so.

The COE does not replace a work visa but is usually a prerequisite for getting one. It serves to show that you meet the entry requirements set by the government authorities.


Get Help With Your Visa for Japan

If you are thinking of relocating and working in Japan, you can make the process easier and increase your chances for success by using the first independent marketplace for global migration, Relocate. Dig-deeper into the details through various relocation topics and connect with qualified, bilingual Advisors who can help with the relocation process to Japan.

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