2023 Guide to All Japan 🇯🇵 Visa Types, Categories, and Requirements

Want to live in Japan? You’ll need to get the right visa for your intended activities. There are around 30 different types, each with unique requirements and authorized activities. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Working Visa 💼

Working visas in Japan are geared towards professions that require a high level of specialized knowledge or skills. Consequently, foreigners cannot engage in manual/simple labor under a working visa unless they possess a visa granted according to their family status (like spouse/child of a Japanese national, long-term resident, etc.), have a trainee visa, or are part-time workers on student or dependent visas.

For instance, there are no work visas available for roles such as hair-dressing, massage therapists, waiters/waitresses, sales clerks, construction workers, etc.

The most common working visas to work in private companies in Japan fall under these five categories:

  • Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services
    • Authorized Activities: Working in fields of physical science, engineering, or other natural science for engineers. Specialists in humanities work in legal, economic, social fields, or in human science. International services can involve translation, interpretation, language instruction, public relations, international trade, fashion design, interior design, product development.
    • Requirements: Engineers and specialists in humanities need a university degree in the corresponding field or 10 years of professional experience. For international services, three years of professional experience in the field is required, except for interpretation/translation or language instruction roles, which only require a university degree.
  • Intra-company Transferee
    • Authorized Activities: Expats of foreign companies or subsidiary companies of Japanese firms located overseas.
    • Requirements: Must have worked for more than one year in the corresponding overseas office.
  • Skilled Labor
    • Authorized Activities: Foreign cooking, architecture or civil engineering characteristic to foreign countries, processing precious stones, metals or fur, training animals, piloting aircrafts, instructing sports, sommeliers, etc.
    • Requirements: 3-10 years of professional experience (the number of years depending on the type of work) in the corresponding fields, including the period of training.
  • Business Manager
    • Authorized Activities: Starting or investing in a business in Japan, or managing a business on behalf of other investors.
    • Requirements: Physical, dedicated office space in Japan and 5 million yen investment into the business for new application. For renewal, 10 million yen sales and 5 million yen expenses.
  • Highly Skilled Professional
    • This visa type was introduced in May 2012 to attract workers who are likely to contribute to the Japanese economy. Points are given according to the applicant’s educational level, professional background, income, and academic achievement. If you accumulate 70 points or more in the point evaluation, a special visa status is granted which includes the following preferential treatment:
      • Possibility of engaging in multiple activities that cover different visa categories
      • 5-year visa granted
      • Faster access to Permanent Resident visa
      • Preferential processing of Immigration procedure
      • Possibility to work on a full-time basis for the spouse under certain conditions
      • Possibility of bringing your parents to Japan under certain conditions
      • Possibility of hiring a domestic helper under certain conditions

For more details, please refer to the Immigration’s website.

Working Visas for Specific Status, Knowledge, or Skills 🎓🛠️

  • Diplomat / Official: For personnel of Embassies, Consular Offices, Diplomatic Missions, Government personnel, and their families. Applications are processed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the Immigration Bureau.

  • Professor: For individuals involved in research and education at University-level or equivalent educational institutions.

  • Instructor: For teaching foreign languages or```markdown other subjects at elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, etc.

    • Note: Instructors in private language schools must apply for the “Specialist in Humanities / International Services” visa.
  • Artist: For those conducting artistic activities that generate sufficient income to support their life in Japan. This could include painters, sculptors, photographers, writers, composers, songwriters, etc.

  • Religious Activities: For missionaries sent from foreign religious organizations.

  • Journalist: For journalists who have signed contracts with foreign media organizations, including freelance journalists.

  • Legal / Accounting Services: For attorneys, certified public accountants, or other specialists with legal qualifications.

  • Medical Services: For physicians, dentists, or other medical specialists with Japanese qualifications.

  • Researcher: For individuals conducting research under a contract with public or private organizations in Japan.

  • Entertainer: For those involved in theatrical performances, musical performances, sports, or any other show business.

  • Specified Skilled Worker: For less skilled workers in 14 specified industry fields.

Non-Working Visas 🚫💼

Non-Working Visas allow holders to engage in work activities under certain conditions, including restricted working hours per week and prior permission from the immigration office (not applicable to “Temporary Visitor” and “Trainee” visa holders).

  • Student: For individuals enrolled in universities, vocational schools (senmon gakko), high schools, junior high schools, elementary schools or Japanese language schools. The visa application is submitted through the school and the application period is limited.

  • Trainee: For individuals training to learn and acquire technology, skills, or knowledge at public or private organizations in Japan. This status is granted only if the candidate plans to engage in a job requiring the technology, skills, or knowledge obtained in Japan upon returning to their home country.

  • Technical Internship: For individuals undertaking an internship following training under a trainee visa.

  • Dependent: For spouses or children of people staying in Japan under work visas and non-working visas (excluding temporary visitors and trainees).

  • Cultural Activities: For individuals involved in cultural or artistic activities that provide no income. This also covers studies or research of Japanese cultural or artistic activities, and university students on unpaid internships.

  • Temporary Visitor: For individuals visiting Japan for tourism, vacation, sports, family visit, participating in seminars, conferences, or reunions. It also allows for conducting business meetings, signing contracts, engaging in PR activities, and performing market research.

  • Designated Activities: For activities specifically designated for each case. This includes housekeepers for diplomats, students on internships, working holiday participants, and Long Stay for sightseeing and recreation.

Note: These visas are subject to requirements determined by considering the impact on industries and society in Japan, and to adjust the quality and/or quantity of the entrants.

Family related visas do not restrict the activities of the visa holder, making it possible to work in any field or industry. These visa holders are free to change jobs or engage in more than one activity.

  • Spouse or Child of Japanese Nationals: For spouses and children of Japanese nationals.

  • Long Term Residents: For refugees, descendants of Japanese nationals, individuals caring for their children with Japanese nationality, individuals divorced from Japanese nationals, etc.

  • Permanent Residents (Indefinite): Visa granted to those who have fulfilled certain conditions regarding the length of time spent in Japan, income, tax payment, etc.

  • Spouse or Child of Permanent Residents: For spouses and children of Permanent Residents.

Key Points 📝

  • Can’t get a visa for activities not listed in the visa types.
  • Typically need a “visa sponsor” (e.g., school for student visa, employer for working visa).
  • Must meet certain requirements to get a visa, even if you have a Japanese employer.
  • Can only hold one type of visa at a time.

Ready to make your move? 🚀

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