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Working visas

Working visas

There are a total of 23 types of statuses of residence for which it is possible to work, and the main working visas include the following: (1) Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services, (2) Skilled labor, (3) Intra-company transferee, (4) Business manager, and (5) Internship.


However, even though there are 23 types, almost all cases involve choosing and obtaining one of the five types of status of residence just stated.

This video will explain “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services,” which is common for a company employee.


Under a law revision in April 2015, “Engineer” and “Specialist in Humanities/International Services” were combined into one status.


There are several types of “working visas,” and the “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa” is one of those.


Clerical jobs for sales and trade, interpretation, translation, designer’s work, work related to computers, such as SE, and engineers’ work for electronics and mechanical systems fall under this.


This is a white-collar visa that can be obtained when a foreigner who has graduated from university or vocational school has become employed.


There are points and conditions in order for this “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” visa to be allowed, so now I will explain those.


In both the case that a foreign student studying in Japan will be hired and the case in which a foreigner will be invited from another country, the criteria are the same.


First, a foreigner does not apply for a working visa as an individual, but rather the company acts as a sponsor and makes an application at the Immigration Bureau.


In the case of a large company, there are aspects that make it relatively easy to pass the screening because it is easy to prove the company scale and past results, but for small and medium-sized companies and tiny companies, it will be necessary to submit many documents related to the company, and it is not easy. The smaller the business, the more difficult it becomes.


Next, I will talk about the conditions for obtaining a visa.

1. The relevance between the work content and the person’s major at university or vocational school

First, the content of work is specialized duty content, but there is a wide range of specialized work.

Some examples include the things below.

■The following are some types of jobs in the humanities.

・General affairs
・Publicity and advertisement
・Product development
・Interpretation and translation
・Language teacher

■The following are some general job types for engineering work in the sciences.

・Engineering engineer
・Architectural engineer


It is necessary for the previously mentioned duty content to utilize the content of the major that the person studied at the school (university or vocational school) that the person graduated from.


If the person’s academic background and the duty content do not match, permission for the visa will not be granted.


Therefore, when making an application to the Immigration Bureau, an important question is whether it is possible to thoroughly explain in a document that the work content matches the content of the person’s major.


There are many cases in which people make an application themselves and make an explanation that is difficult to understand or give an insufficient explanation, and as a result, permission is not granted.
This happens even for cases in which permission would ordinarily be granted. If a poor explanation is made, permission will not be granted even for a case in which permission should ordinarily be granted.


2. The person’s background

First, the person’s academic background is important.
The person’s diploma and transcript will be checked to see what kind of content he or she majored in.


When they are checked, the relevance with the work content of the company where he or she will take a job will be screened.


Next, we will consider a person who does not have an academic background, for example a high school graduate.


For a person who does not have an academic background, it is quite difficult to fulfill the criteria for permission, and the condition will be at least three years or at least ten years of practical experience.


There is duty content for which three years of practical experience is okay, and duty content for which ten years of practical experience is necessary.


In order to prove practical experience it is necessary to get various documents from past companies; therefore, if it is a person who cannot contact a previous company it will not be possible to prove practical experience. As a result, there will be no method of proving practical experience and it will not be possible to obtain permission for a working visa.


3. There is a contract between the company and the foreigner.

This contract is ordinarily an employment contract. Therefore, a written employment contract is submitted.
This means that employment has already been decided.
Please note that, in the first place, a visa will not be granted if an employment contract has not been decided.

Other than an employment contract, it is also possible to obtain a visa based on a worker dispatch contract, although it will become a little more difficult.

4. The company’s financial situation

It is necessary for the company’s financial situation to be stable. For that reason, things related to accounting documents are ordinarily submitted.


If the company has significant losses and seems to be on the verge of bankruptcy, it will be thought that it cannot pay salary to a foreign employee. However, it cannot be said that it is absolutely impossible to obtain a visa simply because the company is in the red.


Even if the company is in the red, it will be okay if it is possible to explain that this is the current situation, but the company will do certain things and be in the black in the future. In order to make such an explanation, a written business plan will be made and attached to the application documents.


In addition, a company that has been newly created does not have any past results; therefore, I think that it of course will also not have statements of accounts yet. In the event that the company has been newly established and cannot submit statements of accounts, it will be absolutely necessary to create and submit a business plan.

5. There is a salary level that is equivalent to the salary level for a Japanese person.

This is to prevent unfair discrimination against foreigners. It means that it is necessary to pay salary of approximately the same amount as that of Japanese employees who work for the same company.

6. The person has no criminal record.

This is a question of whether the foreigner has ever been arrested by the police in the past.

The Immigration Bureau’s policy is that it will not grant visas to undesirable foreigners.

What things should be noted in the case of hiring a foreigner?

When hiring a foreigner, the first thing the person in charge of personnel should confirm is that even if he or she makes an unofficial job offer it is meaningless if it is not possible to obtain permission from the Immigration Bureau for the foreigner to work.


Therefore, the person in charge of hiring must predict whether or not a foreign job applicant will be able to work at the company in terms of a working visa in the first place, and then after an unofficial job offer is made a working visa must actually be obtained. In the first place, if a visa cannot be obtained after an unofficial job offer is made to a foreigner who cannot legally obtain a visa, it will become necessary to make significant changes in the hiring plan.

How long is the period of screening for a work-related status of residence (visa)?

On average, it is approximately one month, but in some cases it actually takes two or three months, and there are also cases in which screening ends in approximately two weeks. Under the law, the result of a screening period will supposedly be given within three months.


However, in the end, in reality the period of screening differs considerably depending on the case. As for why there is such a difference in the screening period depending on the case, the first thing is that the screening period differs depending on whether it is “approval,” “change,” or “renewal.”


The thing with the shortest period is renewal, followed by change, and in many cases, the thing with the longest period is approval. As components other than the type of application, the period changes depending on the company’s credibility and problems of the actual person.


It also depends on how busy the Immigration Bureau is. Ordinarily, there is a tendency for there to be many applications for renewal or change of status of residence by foreigners from February to approximately May every year, and that is the Immigration Bureau’s busy period. As a result, the screening periods for applications made in that period tend to be long.


Therefore, there are people who become uneasy because they do not know why they have not heard anything for more than one month even though a friend was granted permission after two weeks or one month, but a friend’s case is a friend’s case and basically will not serve as any kind of standard.

What kind of visa procedures should be conducted if a foreigner who is already working in Japan will be hired mid-career?

In the case of hiring a person who is changing jobs mid-career, the status of residence that he or she currently has was granted permission in light of the content of work at the previous company and his or her academic background; therefore, it is not necessarily the case that he or she can also work at the new workplace.


In order to thoroughly conduct compliance (compliance with laws and ordinances), we recommend that you obtain a “work qualification certificate.” A “work qualification certificate” is an application to receive endorsement from the Immigration Bureau, before a job change is made, about whether the person can work at this company.


In the case of hiring mid-career, the first thing to do is check the type of status of residence that the foreigner currently has. For example, if the status of residence was “engineer,” there probably will not be a problem if the planned duties of work at your company are related to IT or something else related to engineering, but there will be many situations in which the person will not be able to work if the duties are sales or trade, for example.


There are the following two ways of hiring mid-career.


One is to apply for a work qualification certificate and prove that the person can work at your company.


The other is to basically do nothing until the next time of renewal of status of residence, and then submit the materials of the new company at the time of renewal procedures.

Points to note for the second way:

• It is necessary for the foreigner him or herself to make only notification related to the contracting agency within 14 days after changing jobs.

• In the event that he or she was not allowed to work at the new company, there is a risk that permission will suddenly not be granted.


Things to confirm from the foreigner him or herself in order to apply for a status of residence (visa) when hiring a foreigner

First, the minimum thing that should be confirmed is the person’s academic background and the content of what he or she studied (his or her major). This is because a judgment of whether or not permission for a working visa will be granted will be made based on whether or not there is relevance between the person’s academic background and the content of the work that he or she will handle after being hired.


There is no meaning in hiring a foreigner who is unlikely to receive permission for a status of residence. Therefore, in order to make an advance judgment we think that it is advisable to instruct the person to submit his or her diploma (or certificate of expected graduation) and transcript at an early date.

1. About academic background

There are the following four types of academic backgrounds for which a working visa in Japan can be obtained.

(1)   Graduation from a vocational school
(2)   Graduation from a junior college
(3)   Graduation from university
(4)   Graduation from graduate school

If the person does not have one of the above academic backgrounds in Japan, it will be an academic background in another country, but in such a case, a vocational school in another country will not be included. A university or graduate school is okay.


Junior colleges in other countries are on a case-by-case basis. There is a condition that the junior college is recognized as equivalent to a higher education institution in Japan (* not a high school). Judgment will be made based on a book called “Recent Trends in Education Overseas” that is issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.


In the event that the person does not have an academic background or his or her academic background is different from the content of work, confirmation will be made of whether or not the person has practical experience. In such a case, the type of practical experience and the number of years will be checked.


A point that is often not noticed is a case in which the foreigner him or herself has submitted materials to the Immigration Bureau in the past for an application for status of residence. For example, there are cases in which permission is not granted for a status of residence application because there is a slight discrepancy between materials or background that were submitted to the Immigration Bureau in the past and the content of the current application.


The reason for this is that even if there is a slight contradiction of content, even if something was merely left out or a mistake was made, the Immigration Bureau cannot judge which thing is correct. It may be unkind, but the Immigration Bureau is not obligated to ask for another explanation about content that the person submitted in an application.

When should an application be made to change a status of residence from student to working?

The Immigration Bureau accepts applications for foreign students who have recently graduated beginning around December.


It seems that they are giving consideration so that permission can be obtained in time for April 1, which is commonly the date of joining a company, but when many applications for foreigners are received at the same time during this period and an application is made in or after mid-February it is not unusual for permission to be granted in or after May.


In addition, there are many cases in which a result is not given by June if an application is made in March. For a company that has made an unofficial job offer to a foreigner who has recently graduated, it is necessary to avoid leaving application up to that person and for the company to manage the application.


The procedures for a student visa and those for a working visa are completely different; therefore, it is basically rare for the foreigner to have accurate knowledge him or herself.

Visa acquisition for a temporary employee

There are cases in which it has been decided that a foreigner will be hired as a temporary employee rather than a permanent employee. We are sometimes asked if it is possible to obtain a visa (status of residence) even for a temporary worker, and the answer is that it is possible to do so. The points to note in the case of a dispatch contract are whether or not the content of work at the “place of dispatch” falls under a status of residence for “Specialist in Humanities/International Services,” and the items that will be screened are whether or not it can be recognized that there is “continuity” and “stability” as a result of the contract period with the company to which the person will be dispatched and the amount of salary.

Short-term stay ⇒ Change to a working visa

In principle, it is not allowed for people from countries where visas are exempted or those from other countries to change from a “short-term stay” to another status of residence (visa). Therefore, in the event that a person who has come to Japan with no visa finds a place to work while in Japan and wants to obtain a working visa, it is not possible to make an “application for permission to change status of residence.” The procedures in such a case will be to make an “application for certification of eligibility of status of residence.”
The procedures for an application for issuance of a certificate of eligibility are completely different from those for a “short-term stay,” and therefore even if this application has been received it is necessary to leave the country before the period of the “short-term stay” expires. The official method of procedures is to have the certificate of eligibility sent to your home country after permission has been granted, and then to conduct procedures at the Japanese Embassy in your home country and then come to Japan.


However, in the event that “authorization of resident eligibility” has been issued within the period of the “short-term stay,” as an exception it is possible to go from a “short-term stay” to an “application for permission to change status of residence.” An application will be made by attaching the certificate of eligibility that was issued to the written application for permission to change status of residence. In such a case, it will be an application for a change; therefore, after the application has been received it will be possible to stay in Japan until a result is given, even if the period of the short-term stay has expired.

Information about free consultations

If you have any concerns about for a visa, we recommend that you first consult an immigration lawyer who has detailed knowledge about visa applications. Making an early consultation is the key to ensuring visa permission.

Samurai Immigration Law Firm accepts consultations about visa applications. We will search for measures that correspond to the circumstances of each client and suggest a path to obtain permission.

We conduct free consultations, so please feel free to consult us first.
There are two methods of applying for a consultation. * All consultations require an appointment.

1. Make a consultation application by telephone

2. Make an application through the website

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Ikebukuro・Shinjuku・Shibuya・Ueno and Nagoya.
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