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Immigration and Work Permits in Japan

Are you exploring the Japanese market for business opportunities and need to send experienced employees for sales, marketing or project development?  If you are new to Japan, you may need assistance with navigating the work and immigration procedures to avoid any problems with non-compliance.  This guide will give you the basics for longer business assignments that don’t qualify for a simple business visa.

Assigning employees to Japan for longer than four months will require following the work permit and immigration rules for this popular Asian country.  Every visitor of any type will be given a ‘status of residence’ depending on the purpose and length of their stay, and that includes anyone who will be working in Japan.

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Immigration and Work Visa Requirements in Japan

Foreign workers must obtain a work visa from an embassy or consulate outside of Japan prior to entry and apply for a status of residence.  There are many different statuses for work depending on profession, and the work permit will need to be sponsored by the employer in Japan.  If you don’t have a corporate entity in Japan, you can use a GEO local employer of record for work permit sponsorship, along with all other employment administration tasks.

Work permit length can be from four months to five years, with extensions permitted, and most professional level employees will meet the qualifications which includes a university degree and a certain level of professional skill.

Work Visa Processing Time in Japan

The actual work permit only takes five days to process in the consulate, but prior to that the employee must receive a Certificate of Eligibility which can take up to three months to be issued from Japan. 

The company sponsor in Japan submits the Certificate of Eligibility application to the immigration bureau, and then when approved the sponsor will send it to the employee.  The employee then submits if for approval of their work visa/permit in the Consulate.

For this reason, it is a good idea to plan well ahead of time for any employee assignments to Japan.

Cost of Working Visa in Japan

The actual cost of the visa will depend on various factors such as the country of employee origin and the type of work permission.

Residence Permit for Foreign Workers in Japan

Once your employee has their work permit, they will also need a residence permit for their stay in Japan.  There are specific rules surrounding these permits, and how to change or extend them.

Residence Card in Japan

New foreign workers are given a residence card upon arrival in Japan, either at the airport or immigration offices.  This allows the holder to open bank accounts and get a driver’s license among other items.

Extending Residence Permission in Japan

Regardless of how long your status of residence is valid, you will need apply to extend it before expiration, but if it takes more time the worker can still remain in Japan until approval.

Changing Status of Residence in Japan

If for some reason your employee needs to change their status of residence, it can be done inside Japan at immigration, with the same requirements as applying at a consulate.

Re-entry Permits in Japan

Leaving Japan for more than one year will require obtaining a re-entry permit, or the status will be lost, and a new application required.

Permanent Residency in Japan

This is possible after one to five years of residence, depending on the profession or sufficient assets.

Naturalization in Japan

Japanese citizenship can be granted after five years if several criteria are met by the foreign resident.

The Shield GEO Solution

If you are new to employing in Japan you may not have an entity to sponsor work permits, and in that case, you would benefit from using a GEO employer of record for sponsorship.  The GEO can also issue valid contracts in Japanese, run payroll and handle all tax and social contributions for you employees.  We make international employment simple.

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Looking to hire an employee in Japan? Get in touch.

The information in this article is subject to changes in local legislation.

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