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Visa Procedures when Changing Jobs

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

However, the Immigration office has the authority to revoke your visa if you don't find a new job within 3 months after you leave your previous job.

It is also required to notify the change of employers within 14 days by submitting the notification to the Immigration office (download the format from here).

You can send this by post to the following address with a copy of the residence card enclosed:

To the Notification Acceptance Desk, The Residency Management Information Department, the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau
5-5-30 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8255

Please write "The notification form is enclosed" in red letters on the face of the envelope.

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

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 "Engineer / Specialist in Humanities and International Services".

You will need to prove that you have already signed stable contracts with different employers/clients in Japan that would generate enough income to support yourself (approximately 200,000 yen/month at the minimum).

This doesn't work when you only have contracts with overseas companies that don't have any office in Japan, although you could work for foreign companies on top if you have already secured sufficient income with Japanese companies.

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 in Japan 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 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.

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/physical 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 the applicant hasn't worked long enough for your company to apply for the Intra-Company Transferee visa, it's still possible to get other visa such as "Engineer / Specialist in Humanities and International Services" if the applicant satisfies the requirements.

However a representative office doesn't allow you to engage in the commercial activities in Japan and can only sponsor one work visa, 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 status to ask for is "Investor / Business Manager" visa.

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" (download the application form here). 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 independently:

  • 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 highly 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.

Working Holiday Visa in Japan

The Japanese Government currently has agreements on Working Holiday Visa's with the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. Each agreement is slightly different in its way of how it works (length, age limit, etc.)

You need to be a citizen of each country and to be living in the country at the time of application. You need to provide 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:

It is possible to change a working holiday visa to a work visa if you find a job in Japan that falls under the work visa categories, provided that you satisfy all the requirements.

Certified as Immigration Lawyers by the Japan 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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