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Working in Japan is becoming more and more popular with many foreigners. In order to work in Japan though you must first obtain a visa that allows you to do so, and these visas fall into three categories: Work Visa, Working Holiday Visa and Permanent Residence Visa. The process in acquiring a visa, however, requires more than a few steps.

Before relocating to Japan for work you must apply for your visa and before you can begin your visa application you must first get a certificate of eligibility. A certificate of eligibility is in basic terms a certificate inviting someone from overseas to stay in Japan long-term and is applied for by your Japanese employer, Japanese University or Language Institution. The certificate is sent to you by your Japanese employer once it has been accepted by immigration, which you can then use for your visa application. Whilst the certificate of eligibility is not essential for your visa application it does make the process much easier and also greatly shortens the length of time the application takes.

Work Visas

Before making your work visa application, you must first receive a certificate of eligibility. This means that you must first find a job in order to have your Japanese employer apply for the certificate.

There are various different types of work visas all of which depend on which profession/area you will be working in. Work visas are available for the following professions: Professor, artist, religious activities, journalist, business manager, legal/accounting services, medical services, researcher, instructor, engineer/specialist in humanities/international services, intra-company transferee, entertainer and skilled labour. Depending on the visa that you are applying for there may be some prerequisites (e.g. a degree, work experience or level of Japanese) in order to qualify for the visa.

There are also separate types of visas for those in certain lines of work, including diplomats, journalists, university lecturers and healthcare providers.

Working Holiday Visas

The initial aim of the working holiday visa was for those travelling in Japan to be able to fund their travels by also engaging in paid activity whilst in Japan (tourist visas strictly prohibit any paid activity). Working holiday visas are available for those between the ages of 18-30 and are valid for 1 year. They are, however, only available to natives of select countries. These countries are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. Natives of Australia, Canada and New Zealand may extend their stay after 6 months by application at immigration.

Applications for this type of visa must be made at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country and the conditions differ depending on your home country. The working holiday visa is not renewable, but you can apply for one of the work visas mentioned above instead (British and French nationals must return home and apply at the Japanese embassy in their.)

Permanent Residence Visa

This type of visa allows foreigners to live and work in Japan on a regular basis without restrictions. The permanent residence visa requirements differ based on profession and situation. In most cases it is available to any individual who has lived in Japan for 3-5years or to those who are either; married to a Japanese national and have stayed in Japan with their spouse for at least 1 year, or are married to a Japanese national and have lived abroad with their spouse for at least 3 years.

If you are considered a highly skilled foreign professional, you may be able to obtain a permanent residence visa after only 1 year in Japan (highly skilled foreign professional status is determined by various things such as achievements, position in your workplace, qualifications etc.). Applications for a permanent residence visa can be made at immigration.

Other Information

In the event that you change jobs or your situation changes, you are able to apply for a change of visa status at immigration. It must also be noted that many work visas require you to fill out a re-entry permit at the airport before flying anywhere abroad. Failure to do so may result in your current visa being revoked.

 Useful Links

Japanese Immigration
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan Visa information
Japan Association for Working Holiday Makers

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