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Visa & Immigration procedure in Japan

Visa categories and requirements in Japan

If you would like to live in Japan, it is necessary to get a visa that is most appropriate for your intended activities in Japan.

There are 27 types of visa in Japan and the requirements as well as the authorized activities are different for each of them.

It is therefore necessary to first determine one type of visa that will allow you what you would like to pursue in Japan and for which you can satisfy the requirements.

It is not possible to get a visa to do the activities that are not listed in the following table. For example, you can't get a working visa for a simple labour work such as construction worker or a waiter/waitress.

It is also required in most cases to have a hosting organization or inviting person (commonly known as a "visa sponsor") to be able to get a visa in Japan, such as a school in case of a student visa or an employer in case of a working visa.

There are also requirements to meet as to obtain a visa. So even if you find a Japanese employer, you will not be able to come to work in Japan if you don't meet these requirements.

These 27 Japanese visas can be devided into 3 main groups:

1. Working visa: those which allow you to work

2. Non-working visa: those which don't allow you to work

3. Family related visa: those granted according to the family status

One person can get only one type of visa at a time, so if you are eligible for more than one (engineer visa and spouse visa for example), you will need to choose one among them.

Now let's see the definition of each type of visa and its requirements that will allow you to determine the type of visa that you qualify for.

>> How to obtain and renew your visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advice

Working visa

Working visas only cover the kind of work that requires high level of professional knowledge or skills. It is therefore not possible for foreigners to engage in manual / simple labour under a wokring visa, unless they have the visa granted according to the family status (spouse/child of Japanese national, long term resident, etc.), the trainee visa or are part-time workers on student or dependent visas.

For instance, there is no work visa for hair-dressing, massage, waiter/waitress, salesclerk, construction workers, etc.

The most typical working visas to work in private companies are the following 5 types.

Visa type Authorized activities Requirements
*Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services Engineer: working in the fields of physical science, engineering or other natural science.

Specialist in humanities: working in legal, economic, social fields or in the human science.

International services: working in translation, interpretation, language instruction, public relations, international trade, fashion design, interior design, product development.
Engineer:university degree in the corresponding field or 10 years professional experience

Specialist in humanities: university degree or 10 years professional experience in the field

International services: 3 years professional experience in the field except for interpretation / translation or language instruction that only require a university degree.
*Intra-company Transferee Expats of the foreign companies or the subsidiary companies of Japanese firms located in overseas To have worked more than one year in the said office in overseas
*Skilled Labor Foreign cooking, architecture or civil engineering characteristic to foreign countries, processing precious stones, metals or fur, training animals, piloting aircrafts, instructing sports, sommeliers... 3-10 years professional experience (number of years depending on the type of work) in the corresponding fields (including the period of training)
*Business Manager Starting or investing into a business in Japan, or managing business on behalf of other investors Physical, dedicated office space in Japan and 5 million yen investment into the business for new application. 10 million yen sales and 5 million yen expenses for renewal.

Introduced in May 2012, Highly Skilled Professional visa is intended to attract workers who are likely to contribute to Japanese economy.

*Highly Skilled Professional Points are given according to the applicant's educational and professional background, income and academic achievement, and if you accumulate 70 points or more in the point evaluation, a special visa status is given which includes the following preferential treatment:
  • Possibility of engaging in multiple activities that cover different visa categories
  • 5 year visa granted
  • permanent resident visa after 5 years residency in Japan
  • preferential processing of Immigration procedure
  • your spouse can also work
  • possibility of bringing your parents to Japan
  • possibility of hiring a domestic servant
For more detail, please refer to the Immigration's website.

>> How to obtain and renew your visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advice

Following are the working visas granted to those who have certain status, knowledge, or skills.

Diplomat / Official Personnel of the Embassies and consular offices, diplomatic missions, Government personnel and their families. The application goes through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and not the Immigration bureau.
Professor Research and education at University or equivalent educational institutions.
*Instructor Instruction of foreign languages or other education at elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, etc.

*Instructors in the private language schools have to apply for "Specialist in Humanities / International Services" visa.
Artist Artistic activities that generate sufficient income to support life in Japan (painter, sculptor, photographer, writer, composer, songwriter, etc...)
Religious Activities Missionnaries sent from foreign religious organizations.
Journalist Journalists who signed the contracts with forgeign media organizations, including freelance journalists.
*Legal / Accounting Services Attorneys, certified public accountants or other specialists with legal qualifications.
*Medical Services Physicians, dentists or other medical specialists with Japanese qualifications.
*Researcher Researches conducted under a contract with public or private organizations in Japan
*Entertainer Theatrical performances, musical performances, sports or any other show business.

>> How to obtain and renew your visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advice

Non-working visa

It is possible to work under non-working visas within the limited hours (except for temporary visitor and trainee visa holders) if you obtain the permission from the immigration office.

*Student Students enrolled in universities, vocational schools (senmon gakko), high schools, junior high schools, elementary schools or Japanese language schools.The visa application is submitted through the school and the time of application is limited.
*Trainee Training to lean and acquire technology, skills or knowledge at public or private organizations in Japan.
This status is granted only if the candidate is to engage in a job requiring the technology, skills or knowledge obtained in Japan after returning to the home country.
*Technical Internship Internship after training under trainee visa
*Dependent Spouses or children of people staying in Japan under the work visa and non-working visa (except for temporary visitors and trainees).
Cultural Activities Cultural or artistic activities that provide no income.
Studies or researches of Japanese cultural or artistic activities.
University students on internship without remuneration.
Temporary Visitor Tourism, vacation, sports, family visit, participation to seminars, conferences or reunions. It is possible also to have business meetings, sign the contracts, engage in PR activities and conduct market researches.

The following status of residence is granted case by case, and the possibility or not to work is determined for each case.

Designated Activities Activities specifically designated for each case.
Hosekeepers for diplomats, students on internship, working holiday, Long Stay for sightseeing and recreation

* These visas are subject to requirements that are determined considering the impact on the industries and society in Japan in order to adjust the quality and/or quantity of the entrants.

Family related visa

These visas have no restriction in the activities to be engaged, so it is possible to work in any field or industry. You are free to change jobs or to have more than one activity.

Spouse or Child of Japanese National Spouses and children of Japanese nationals
Long Term Resident Refugees, descendants of Japanese nationals, people caring for their children with Japanese nationality, people divorced form Japanese nationals, etc.
Permanent Resident (Indefinite) *Note Visa granted to those who have stayed sufficiently long time in Japan
Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident Spouses and children of Permanent Resident

*Note : it is still necessary to obtain a Re-entry permit which needs to be renewed every 5 years, if you wish to stay outside of Japan for more than one year.

>> How to obtain and renew your visa in Japan

>> Required documents for visa applications in Japan

>> Ask for personalized advice

Certified as an Immigration Lawyer by the immigration office, we can help you with obtaining an appropriate visa and with other immigration procedures.

For more information, click here.

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