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Visa & Immigration procedure in Japan

Changing jobs in Japan

Your working visa is valid until it expires, even if you change your job. Your former employer can not take your visa away, and you can work at a new place under the visa you obtained with your former employer, if the type of activities remains the same.

If the type of activities changes however (for example from English teacher to an IT engineer), the category of your visa will no longer be appropriate, so you will need to change your visa (status of residence) as well.

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Self sponsorship

If you don't work full time for just one employer but work for a few different employers or have signed contract with several clients as a freelancer, it is still possible to get a work visa. This procedure is often referred to as self sponsorship.

There is no such thing as "self sponsor visa" however, so you will be applying for an ordinary working visa such as "Specialist in Humanities and International Services" or "Engineer".

You will need to prove that your contracts with different employers/clients are stable and that they will generate enough income to support yourself (approximately 200,000 yen/month at the minimum).

This means that you already need to have conracts signed with different employers/clients when applying for a work visa as self sponsorship.

It is also required to get a certain number of documents such as the registry certificate, financial statements, withholding tax report from one of the main employer / client and have them stamp their official seal on the application form as a main "visa sponsor".

If you are planning to start a new business but don't have fixed clients as yet, you might like to consider applying for the "Investor/Business Manager" visa.

Private lessons don't count unless they are organized continuously by a Japanese company.

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Sending employees to Japan

When a foreign company wishes to send an employee to Japan without having a hosting structure in Japan, it is firstly required to set up at least a representative office. To do this, there is no registration procedure required, but it is necessary to have a dedicated/phisical office space.

It is then possible to apply for the "Intra-Company Transferee" visa if the visa applicant has worked more than one year at the overseas company that is sending you to Japan.

If you haven't worked long enough for your company to apply for the Intra-Company Transferee visa, you can still try to get other visa such as "Specialist in Humanities and International Services" or "Engineer".

However a representative office doesn't allow you to engage in the commercial activities in Japan, so you might like to consider setting up a branch office or a subsidiary depending on the company's intended activities in Japan.

If the visa applicant becomes the Representative Director of a Japanese subsidiary, the appropriate visa satatus to ask for is "Investor / Business Manager" visa.

>> Different types of operation for a foreign company

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Work permission for student and "dependent" visa holders

Students and "dependent" visa holders are not allowed to work full time, but they can work part time if they ask for the permission in advance at the Immigration office.

It is called "Permission to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted". You will be working illegally if you don't obtain this permission in advance.

This Permission allows you to work within 28 hours a week and there is no restriction in the type of activities (except for the sex industry) or limit in terms of the amount of income.

If you have a dependent visa and are covered by your spouse's social security, you might want to be careful with the limits over which you will need to start paying for the social security contribution indemendently:

  • less than 3/4 of working hours compared to regular workers
  • less than 1.3 million yen of annual income
  • less than half the annual income of that of your spouse

These limits are different according to the type of social security that your spouse has joined, so it is higly recommended to check with his/her employer or the organization in charge of his/her social security.


If you wish to work on full time, it is necessary to change your visa status to an appropriate working visa. It is necessary to satisfy the requirements such as your educational or professional background, job description and financial performance of the employer.

>> Change of visa status

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Working holiday visa in Japan

Japanese Government currently has agreements on Working Holiday Visa with UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and South Korea. Each agreement is slightly different in its way of how it works :

Conutry Age limits Initial length of stay Extension Change of visa status
UK 18-25 (can be extended up to 30) 1 year No No
Canada 18-25 (can be extended up to 30) 6 months Another 6 months Yes
Australia 18-25 (can be extended up to 30) 6 months Another 6 months, then further extension is to be decided by Japanese authority Yes
New Zealand 18-25 (can be extended up to 30) 6 months Another 6 months Yes
France 18-30 1 year No No
Germany 18-25 (can be extended up to 30) 1 year No Yes
South Korea 18-25 (can be extended up to 30) 1 year No Yes
Denmark 18-30 1 year No No
Taiwan 18-30 1 year No
Hong Kong 18-30 1 year No

You need to be a citizen of each country and to live in the country at the moment of application. You need to provide a proof that you have sufficient money to support yourself during the initial days of your stay in Japan. The application is to be submitted to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate close to where you live. It is not possible to submit the application at the Immigration office in Japan.

For more detail, please also see the following web sites:

Japanese Embassy in UK

Japanese Embassy in Canada

Japanese Embassy in Australia

Japanese Embassy in New Zealand

Japanese Embassy in France

Japanese Embassy in Germany

Japanese Embassy in South Korea

Japanese Embassy in Denmark

交流協会

Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong

Japan Association of Working Holiday Makers


When the working holiday visa expires, British, French and Danish citizens can not change it directly to another type of visa, whether it's a tourist visa (temporary visitor) or a working visa such as Specialist in Humanities. Citizens of these two countries will therefore have to leave Japan once and come back if they wish to change their visa status, or apply for the Certificate of Eligibility first then apply for the change of status once the COE is issued.

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

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