Foreigners who enter Japan with the purpose of taking up paid employment need a Japan Work Visa. There are three types of Work Visas for Japan:

  • The regular Japan Work Visa, which is issued for a number of professions such as a professor or artist.
  • Japan Highly Skilled Professional Visa, which is issued through a point-based system and offers a longer period of stay and more benefits than a regular Work Visa.
  • Japan Working Holiday Visa, which is issued to nationals of countries who have a Working Holiday agreement with Japan.

This article will detail the regular Japanese Work Visa, including the eligibility and application requirements, the application process, visa duration, etc.

Who Needs a Japan Work Visa?

Every foreign national who intends to live and work in Japan for any duration of time needs a Japan Work Visa.

Although there are citizens of several countries who are exempt from holding a Japan Visa , the exemption only applies to those entering as tourists, as short-term visitors and business people, or other recreational purposes.

For long-term stays (work, studying, family reunion), everyone needs to get the appropriate Japan Visa.

What Professions are Eligible for a Japan Work Visa?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan offers a list of occupations that are eligible for Japanese Work Visas:

  • Artists, such as photographers, composers, songwriters, sculptors, etc.
  • Business managers, such as a company president, director, etc.
  • Engineer or specialist in humanities or international services, such as a scientific or IT engineer, an interpreter or copywriter, a foreign language teacher, designer, etc.
  • Entertainer, such an actor, musician, singer, dancer, sportsperson, etc.
  • Instructor or teacher at elementary, intermediate schools, or high school.
  • Intra-company transferee (someone transferred to the Japanese branch of a company)
  • Journalists, such as newspaper or magazine journalists, editors, news cameramen, announcers, etc.
  • Legal or accounting workers, such as attorneys, judicial scriveners, public accountants, tax accountants, etc.
  • Medical services, such as physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, etc.
  • Nursing care
  • Professor, such as a university professor or an assistant professor, etc.
  • Religious activities, such as monks, bishops, missionaries, etc.
  • Researchers at research institutes
  • Skilled workers, such as foreign chefs, animal trainers, pilots, sports trainers, or foreigners who have expertise and skills in certain industrial fields, etc.
  • Technical interns

What Documents Do I Need for a Japan Work Visa Application?

When you apply for a Japan Work Visa, you have to submit the following supporting documents:

  • The Certificate of Eligibility
  • Japan Work Visa Application Form, completed and signed. You can download a copy of the application form from the website of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (here).
  • Your valid passport along with photocopies of it
  • Passport-size pictures with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4cm x 3cm
    • Taken within the last three months
    • Plain white background, without any patterns and shadows
    • You must be starting straight ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your face has to be fully visible
    • The picture must be good quality (focused, clear, and sharp)
  • Documents detailing your position in the company/organization, the salary you will receive, and the duration of the work.
  • Documents attesting to your previous academic and professional history
  • Documents related to the receiving company, such as company registration, statement of profit and loss, etc.
  • For artists: Any documents which show your artistic achievements.
  • For religious workers:
    • Documents which show the details of the religious organization sending you to Japan
    • Documents which show the details of the receiving Japanese organization
    • Documents attesting to your religious position and career
  • For researchers:
    • Documents related to the receiving organization
    • Academic and professional qualifications
  • For instructors or teachers:
    • Documents related to the receiving organization
    • Academic qualifications or an educational license.
  • For intra-company transferees: Documents attesting to the relationship between the two offices/companies.
  • Any additional documents that the Japanese Embassy or Consulate requests, depending on your profession

Note:

  • Before you apply for the Japan Work Visa, you have to send most of the documents to your employer or sponsor on Japan so they can apply for the Certificate of Eligibility at the Immigration Services there.
  • This is not an exhaustive list of documents and the Immigration Service in Japan as well as the Japanese Embassy or Consulate reserve the right to request any documents as they see fit.

How to Apply for a Japan Work Visa?

The application process for applying for a Work Visa for Japan is divided into two parts:

  • Getting a Certificate of Eligibility
  • Applying for a Japan Work Visa

Obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility in Japan

Every foreigner who enters Japan for long-term purposes needs to get a Certificate of Eligibility from the Immigration Services in Japan . It is your sponsor (employer) that’s in charge of handling the COE application on your behalf (since it has to be submitted in Japan). You have to send them any relevant documents.

The Certificate of Eligibility for Japan does not replace the Work Visa: is merely a pre-requisite and you still have to apply for a Japan Work Visa from your home country.

The COE does serve to show, however, that you have the approval of the Japanese Immigration Services and that you meet the entry requirements set by the Japanese government for foreign workers. Once you have the Certificate of Eligibility the process for obtaining a visa is easier.

Applying for the Japan Work Visa

After you receive the Certificate of Eligibility, your employer must send it to you so you can use it to apply for the Work Visa from a Japanese Diplomatic Representative Office (Consulate or Embassy) in your country. You have to:

  1. Contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate. You can find a list of the Japanese Embassies, Consulates and Permanent Missions here.
    1. Some Representative Offices don’t accept direct visa applications, which means you have to apply through an accredited travel agency or a visa application agency.
  2. Collect the required documents for a Japan Work Visa
  3. Submit the Japan Work Visa application either directly at the Embassy/Consulate or at the travel agency or visa application agency. If the Consulate or Embassy considers it necessary, you may also have to bo back for an interview or to submit additional documents.
  4. Collect the visa. Once your Japan Work Visa application has been processed, you have to go back to receive your passport. If the application was approved, you may enter Japan.

How Long Does it Take to Process a Japanese Work Visa Application?

The processing time for the actual Japan Work Visa is between 5 to 10 working days (although the actual time depends on the specific office in which you apply).

However, the process for getting the Certificate of Eligibility for the Work Visa can take up to three months.

What to Do After Entering Japan With a Work Visa?

Once you enter Japan with your Work Visa, you will receive a Landing Permit at the port of entry. The Landing Permit replaces the visa and works as “permission” allowing you to enter Japan.

In addition to the Landing Permit, you also need a Residence Card and a Re-Entry Permit (but only if you’re going to leave the country for more than one year).

Getting the Residence Card

If you enter Japan through the Narita, Haneda, Kansai or Chubu Airport you will get a Japanese Residence Card along with the Landing Permit. However, if you enter through any other port, you gave to go and get a Residence Card at the local municipal office where you will live in Japan.

After that, within 14 days after you set up residence in Japan, you have to register at the local municipal office (also known as Ward Office) of where you are living in Japan. Your address will be printed on the Residence Card.

When you need a Re-Entry Permit

You need a Re-Entry Permit only if your stay outside Japan exceeds one year. If you will leave and return within one year, you only need a Special Re-Entry Permit which you can get at the airport before you leave.

See how to get a Re-Entry Permit and Special Re-Entry Permit for Japan.

How Much is the Fee for a Japan Work Visa?

The fees for Japan Visas are as follows:

  • Single-entry visa: 3,000 Yen
  • Double-entry or multiple-entry visa: 6,000 Yen

Notes:

  • You only have to pay the fee if the application of approved
  • If you apply through an agency, they will ask for an additional service fee
  • Visa fees can change depending on the country in which you are applying, the local currency, as well as your nationality

What is the Duration of a Japan Work Visa?

Japan Work Visas can be issued for the following durations, based on several factors such as your profession and the duration of your work contract:

  • Three months
  • Four months
  • One year
  • Three years
  • Five years

However, regardless of the duration of your visa, if you meet the requirements, you can apply for an extension of your Work Visa before it expires.

How to Extend a Japan Work Visa?

You have to apply for Japan Visa Extension  (also known as Extension of the Period of Stay) at the local Immigration Office where you live and work. You need the following documents:

  • Extension of the Period of Stay Application Form, completed and signed
  • Your passport and Residence Card
  • Passport-size picture of yourself, with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4cm x 3cm
    • Taken within the last three months
    • Plain and light-colored background, without any patterns and shadows
    • You must be starting straight ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your face has to be fully visible
    • The picture must be good quality (focused, clear, and sharp)
  • Proof you meet the financial requirements to continue living in Japan
  • Proof of continued employment which states the details of your employment, such as the salary, position, and duration
  • The company’s registration documents
  • Proof of the annual income and tax payment

Can My Family Members Come to Japan With Me if I Gave a Work Visa?

Yes, if you are working in Japan as a foreign worker, then you can sponsor your spouse and children to join you there through a Japan Spouse Visa .

Changing the Status from a Different Type of Visa to a Japan Work Visa

If you are living in Japan with a type of Japanese visa which does not authorize employment, such as a Student Visa  or Spouse Visa, you can apply for a “Change of Status of Residence” at the local office of the Immigration Services in Japan. If you want to change your existing visa into a “Work Visa”, you need to submit documents similar as you would when you first apply for one (documents detailing your position in the company/organization, the salary you will receive, and the duration of the work.)

The application takes from two weeks to one month to process, and you have to submit the necessary documents along with your Residence Card.

The cost of changing your Residence Status is 4,000 Yen.

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