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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

Foreign workers are required to have the proper visas and work permits in Japan, as established by immigration laws.  Workers entering Japan generally enter through a points based highly skilled visa (高度専門職1号イ,ロ及びハ) or one of the industry specific categories for working visas. These categories include areas such as ‘business manager’ (経営・管理) or ‘intra-company transferee’ (企業内転勤).

Work permits must be secured for employees, and sponsored by a locally licensed and incorporated entity, which can be a problem for companies just entering the Japanese market.  If you have yet to complete the incorporation process you can use an outsourced management company or GEO Employer of Record to sponsor the employee for the necessary permits.

Check out our latest article on Japan's immigration and work permits!

Your Options

Have your own Company

It is possible for companies that have established a subsidiary or branch office in Japan to arrange Visas. The entire process of applying for work visas can take over 3 months and may require a large amount of technical, industry specific documents. It is highly recommended to utilize a Japanese immigration specialist to assist with the application and processing.

The process for obtaining a work visa for Japan is as follows:

  • Most people looking to obtain a work permit will be first required to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. This document is issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan and requires a sponsor in Japan (such as employer) to apply for the certificate on the employee’s behalf to their local immigration office. This certificate is free of charge and can take up to 3 months to be issued. The certificate is then valid for 3 months from the date of issue.
  • Once a Certificate of Eligibility has been issued an application can then be made for a visa. The most common work permits are visas issued on the basis of a particular industry. These categories  have similar application forms but require different documents to be provided with them. If all needed documents are in order visa applications take 5 working days to be processed.
  • General documents required: Passport, application form, photo (4cm×3cm) taken not more than 3 months prior to the application, the supporting documents required for the specific visa type (see below), certificate of eligibility.
  • For example, an employee applying for a business manager (経営・管理) working visa would be required to provide documents such as:
    • A business plan,
    • Copies of the company registration and a statement of profit and loss,
    • Material showing the number of the full-time staff
    • Copies of resident cards or registration certificate
    • Documents regarding wage payments of staff,
    • Documents showing the outline of the business office, and
    • Material certifying the amount of investment made.

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Documents Required:

1. Passport

2. One visa application form (nationals of Russia, CIS countries or Georgia need to submit two visa application forms)

3. One photograph (nationals of Russia, CIS countries or Georgia need to submit two photographs)

4. Certificate of Eligibility (Note) – the original and one copy

Chinese nationals must also submit the following documents:

5. Copy of the Chinese Family Register

6. Temporary Residence Permit or Residence Certificate (If the applicant does not have a family register within the region under the jurisdiction of the embassy or consulate where the application will be made)

Depending on the nationality of the applicant, other documents may be necessary in addition to the above.

A Certificate of Eligibility is issued before a visa application by a regional immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. A foreign national in possession of a Certificate of Eligibility can get a visa issued more easily at an embassy or consulate within the standard processing period (five working days from the day after the date of the acceptance of application).

Types of visas in Japan

Category Description of Visa
Highly skilled professional (i)(a)-(c) (高度専門職1号イ,ロ及びハ)

This visa provides highly skilled foreign professionals with preferential immigration treatment and is valid for 5 years. It covers ‘advanced academic research activities’, ‘advanced specialized/technical activities’ and ‘advanced business management activities’. This is a points based visa, with points set to categories such as academic background, professional career and annual salary. Workers who are given this visa are able to receive a permanent resident visa after 5 years of residency in Japan.

Business manager (経営・管理)

This work visa is for business managers who are starting or investing into a business in Japan, or are managing business on behalf of foreign investors. The length of this visa can be 3 months, 4 months, 1 year, 3 years or 5 years.

Engineer / specialist in humanities / international services (技術・人文知識・国際業務)

This work visa covers a broad range of employee specialties. Engineers or humanity specialists require a university degree or 10 years professional experience to be eligible, while international services workers (such as translations, language instruction, public relations) may require 3 years professional experience or just a university degree, depending on the type of work. The length of this visa can be 3 months, 4 months, 1 year, 3 years or 5 years.

Intra-company transferee

This visa covers expats of foreign companies or the subsidiary companies of Japanese firms located overseas. The be eligible for this visa the worker must have worked for at least a year in the overseas office. The length of this visa can be 3 months, 1 year, 3 years or 5 years.



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