A lot of us have our own reasons to emigrate, whether it’s in search for better job opportunities, to be together with someone you love, or to just experience living abroad, learning the language and soaking up the culture. A long-term visa is essential for such activities, but applying for one is hardly ever a simple process.
Fortunately, Japan has relaxed its stance on immigration over the years and applying for a long-term is no longer as difficult as it used to be. But before you apply, it’s important to know the types of visas available, and which you may be eligible for. Below is a list of the most common types of visas foreigners have in Japan, along with how you can apply for them.
Studying abroad in Japan is a path a lot of foreigners choose as it’s a great gateway to staying in Japan long term. Being enrolled in a Japanese language school, vocational school, or college in Japan makes you eligible to apply, though financial statements may need to be provided as well.
Student visa holders are also able to work part-time for up to forty hours a week (application required).
- Working Visa (Engineer, Specialist in humanities, International services, etc.)
Broadly known as a working visa, a number of occupations are included in this category. The most common is the Engineer /Specialist in humanities /International services visa, which include jobs like English teacher, office worker, designers, and so on. To a slightly lesser degree, there are also Professor, Artist, and Business manager visas. Most foreign professionals living and working in Japan are working visa holders.
This visa type usually requires you to be employed by a company with an office in Japan, so securing a job in Japan is the first step to obtaining this visa. To be eligible, you must either have a university degree, or at least 10 years of professional experience in the relevant fields.
A full list of working visas can be found here: https://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/long/index.html
- Specified skilled worker
The Specified skilled worker visa is a recent addition, and is the Japanese government’s way of encouraging more foreign workers to emigrate to Japan. Under this visa, workers are employed by a list of twelve industries that are facing shortages of manpower, such as agriculture, nursing, and service.
Training in a specific industry and lessons in basic Japanese are taken prior to finding employment and moving to Japan.
For further information on the twelve industries employing specified skilled workers, see here: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001318827.pdf
- Designated activities (Working holiday, paid internships, etc.)
This visa, valid for a shorter period compared to a normal working visa is can be applied for those who want to do a working holiday in Japan, a short-term paid internship, or activities that don’t fall under the other visa categories.
26 countries participate in Japan’s working holiday program. To check if you are eligible for a working holiday in Japan, see here: https://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday/index.html
How to Apply
- Find a school or employer
Most long term visas in Japan require the applicant to either be enrolled in school or employed, so figuring out what you want to do and where to do it is a crucial first step.
There are a few important documents you’ll need from the institutions in order to apply for a visa, such as acceptance letters, contracts, proof of employment, and so on. For a working visa, companies may also have to provide tax reports among other official documents.
For specified skill workers, it may be useful to consult with a local organisation in charge, as candidates will have to pass a number of tests in order to be eligible.
- Apply and Receive Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
If you’re currently residing outside of Japan, the COE is a must in order for you to apply for a visa and enter Japan. To do this, a form must first be filled out by the applicant (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/kanri/shyorui/01-format.html). Documents such as the company’s tax forms, contract of employment, resume, university transcripts, school acceptance letters, photos, and so on may be required. All documents in foreign languages must be translated to Japanese.
Once all the necessary documents are gathered, the school or employer may apply for a COE on the applicant’s behalf at the Immigration Office in Japan.
The application can take several months to process, and once it’s done, a COE will be issued to you.
- Take the COE to the Japanese embassy or consulate
When you receive your COE, you must take it to your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate to have it validated. You should also bring your passport along to have your visa issued or stamped on it. This process is relatively quick, and will take between 3 to 5 business days.
- Move to Japan
Once you get your passport and visa, you will be able to enter Japan and stay long-term. You will also be issued a residence card or zairyu card (在留カード). This card will have serve as your ID as a foreigner in Japan, and will contain information such as your visa type, country of origin, and a photo of you.
- Validity: Long-term stay visas can be valid anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. A student visa for example is usually valid for 2 years, and will need to be renewed. Working visas are valid for 3 to 5 years.
- Renewing a visa in Japan: No COE is required if you already live in Japan, which makes the process a little less time-consuming. However, you will have to gather the necessary documents and carry out the applications yourself at the Immigration Bureau.
- Spouse visas: If you hold a long-term visa and are getting married to a foreign spouse, your spouse will be eligible to apply for a spouse visa, with you acting as their guarantor.
The prospect of living and working in Japan is something a lot of people are excited about, and while the visa application process might be a long and tedious one, but it will certainly be very rewarding! We hope this article helps you with applying for your visa to Japan.