Working Visa

Summary of the Work Visa System in Japan

I am often asked about working visas from readers overseas. The question is very simple, “I want a Japanese visa.” But it’s very hard to explain complex Japanese visa systems on a message board or by e-mail.
So, on this occasion, I will try to summarize the working visa system as simply as I can.

Kinds of Work Visas in Japan

In Japan we have various kinds of visa with working permission. Working visas in Japan only cover the kind of work that requires a high level of professional knowledge or skills. We don’t have visa for manual or simple work, but holders of a visa based on family status (spouse/child of Japanese national, long term resident, etc.), those on trainee visas or those part-time workers on student or dependent visas can take a jobs of a simple or manual nature.

In addition, there are no working visas for hair-dressing, massage, waiters/waitresses, salesclerks, construction workers, etc. either.

The major working visas to work in private companies are the following 4 types.

1. Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services

This status allows you to be involved in so-called office worker activities.

Engineer: Activities working in the fields of physical science, engineering or other natural science.
Specialist in humanities: Activities working in legal, economic, social fields or in the human science.
International services: Activities working in translation, interpretation, language instruction, public relations, international trade, fashion design, interior design, product development.

University degree, the diploma “Senmonshi” in the affiliated field of Japanese profession college or 10 years’ professional experience is required.

In addition, if a person without a university bachelor degree works on “International services”, 3 years professional experience in fields affiliated to fields like interpretation, translation or language instruction is required.

2. Intra-company

Activity as the relocated staff from the same companies or the affiliated companies located in overseas.  The same conditions as for Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services are required. In addition, they need to have belonged in a company overseas for more than one year.

3. Skilled Labor

Activities involving foreign cookery, 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)

4. Business Manager

Starting or investing in a business in Japan, or managing or direct business on behalf of foreign investors. This status is divided into three categories of “Investor and manager”, “manager” and “director”.

Investor and manager: Activity of investing and managing own business. You can check the condition at the article I wrote “Issues in setting up businesses in Japan”.

Activity as a manager to be engaged as a board member of a company.
Activity as a director employed by the company. Over 3 years experience as a director is required.

5. Designated skilled labor

Designated skilled labor installed in2019 is the newest type of working visa.

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