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Japan Immigration, Visa, Employment, Residency and Sponsorship


How many kinds of employment visas are there?

There are 16 different types, including those for official/government related or religious activities. For more information, email us at

How do I apply for an employment visa?

First apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) via your employer in Japan at the Japanese Immigration Bureau. You may then either apply for a visa with your CoE at your local Japanese embassy/consulate, or first enter on a tourist visa then change it to an employment visa in Japan with the CoE.

Can I hire someone to assist me in processing my papers?

Yes, we at Nakai Immigration Services can assist you by drafting your application papers, and filing at the Immigration Bureau in Japan.

What documents do I need to submit?

This differs significantly according to the size of the company and the type of job. In many cases you will need an offer letter or employment contract, along with your original bachelor degree certificate.

How long do I wait for my papers to be processed?

Generally it will take one week to one month for your CoE to be issued, and a few days for the visa to be issued at your local Japanese embassy/consulate, or one week or so for your tourist visa to be changed to an employment visa with your CoE.

Where can I check on the status of my application?

You can check with the Japanese Immigration Bureau your application was submitted for the status of your CoE or change of status application, and your local Japanese embassy/consulate for your visa application, although they would not give you enough information as it is not their duty to answer during their screening. There is no homepage you can access the status of your application.

What does a valid employment visa look like?

It comes in the form of a grayish rectangular sticker, affixed to your passport. As for visas that are issued at a Japanese embassy / consulate, they are about 55mmx40mm.

Can I come to Japan on a tourist visa to find work?

You are allowed to find work during your stay in Japan under a tourist visa, yet the visa will not be issued by the reason “to find a job”. If you choose to work without a valid employment visa, it is illegal and both you and your employer will be penalized. You could be deported and in some cases, you will not be able to re-enter Japan for up to 10 years.

Besides being sponsored by my employer, what are my other options in order for me to reside in Japan?

If you have a spouse who will have an employment visa, you can come as a dependent. Those with parents or grandparents of Japanese descent, a spouse that is a Japanese national or has a “Permanent Residency” permit can be eligible for other visas. Also, investing a certain amount of money in Japan and starting your own business here would be an option to get an “investor” type status to reside in the country.

Is my partner / spouse or children who work and live there able to sponsor me?

Generally both partners and spouses are able to sponsor, but it is a more smooth and simple process if the couple is married. For those who wish to have their children working in Japan sponsor, this is generally not permitted unless the applicant is rather old and has no other children to support them. There is a special status for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals (HSFP) which allows bringing their parents under some additional condition.

Upon getting my employment visa, when can I get permanent residency and acquire citizenship?

In order to apply for Permanent Residency, you will need to have stayed in Japan for 10 consecutive years. If you are married to a Japanese national or have recognized contribution to Japan or HSFP, you are able to apply earlier. The employment visa alone would not give you a Japanese citizenship as well, since you need to fulfill other conditions in addition to those required for the visa. Meanwhile a Japanese nationality can be applied for after 5 years stay with an employment status.

Where can I get information on residency and citizenship?

If you are to apply for citizenship (i.e. becoming a Japanese passport holder), you will need to give up your original nationality as Japan does not allow dual citizenship. You will need to have stayed in Japan consecutively for 5 years. Japanese language skills are also required for the citizenship unlike permanent residency.

Visit the Japanese Ministry of Justice website, or contact us at Nakai Immigration Services for more information.

Can I get a job if my residency is sponsored?

You can work for up to 28 hours per week upon application of a part time work permit, if you do not have an employment visa, and are supported by a sponsor apart from an employer (e.g. your spouse). Not all the persons with residency can get a job due to the labor market.

Will my sponsored residency visa be replaced with work visa?

In the case your part time work permit is issued, you will have it along with your original visa. When you engage in a full time job, you need to change your resident status to a work status.

If I have a valid work visa / residence, how long is the visa before it expires?

Basically work visas or residence visas are valid for 5 years at longest and 3 months at shortest.

How long can I stay outside the country before the visa expires?

There is no regulation prevent you from staying outside Japan when you have a valid visa status. Meanwhile you need to apply for extension in Japan before its expiry date. You have to return Japan with re-entry permission because the extension can be made only a local immigration office in Japan.

Does Japan have single and multiple entry visas? If so, what should I do to get a multiple entry?

Multiple types for the “entry visa” can only be issued at a Japanese overseas mission for businesspersons who belong to a listed company or large organization.

How can I transfer my sponsorship from one employer to the next?

You will simply need to report the facts to the immigration bureau. In the case you are not sure whether your new job is within the scope of your current visa, apply for a “Certificate of Authorized employment”.

Is there a grace period to renew employment visas?

If you do not renew it before it expires, you will “overstay” your visa, which is illegal and can be subject to penalties or deportation. You can renew your visa from 3 months before the expiry date. Once you file the renewal, you can continue to stay after your expiry date for up to 2 months, while waiting for the results.

After my work visa expires in the country, how can I re-enter the country and accept a new job?

You can either first enter Japan with a tourist visa or apply for a CoE from scratch while you are abroad.

How do I make sure I don’t get banned from re-entry?

Overstaying your visa, being engaged in activities beyond the scope of your visa, or certain criminal activities can lead to banning you from re-entering Japan. You don’t get banned unless you committed those. You can make sure when you apply for a CoE.

What are the government fees I have to pay for while I’m on my work visa?

There are no fees required to apply for a CoE, but 4,000 JPY applies for extending or changing your visa in Japan. Fees also apply when applying for a visa at local Japanese embassies and consulates. Tax amounts are determined by the Japanese tax authorities based on your income.

If my passport expires before my visa expires, what should I do?

You may have trouble if you are to depart from or enter Japan on an expired passport, but you will simply need to renew it at your embassy in Japan if this is not the case. Your landing permission seal can be transferred from the old passport to the new one at the local immigration bureau.

Will an expat’s child born in Japan acquire Japanese Nationality?

The fact that the baby is born in Japan will not entitle him/her to a Japanese nationality while a Japanese parent will. You will need to acquire a dependent status for the child within 30 days, unless one of the child’s parents is a Japanese national, in which case the child will be able to obtain Japanese nationality.

I am Japanese currently living overseas with a foreign nationality. What are the requirements for my partner to be able to reside with me in Japan?

Your partner will need to apply for a working status not depending on the relationship with you. There is no specific visa status for a partner of a Japanese national without an official marriage certificate.


Japan Immigration
Nakai Immigration Services LPC provides professional legal service for every nationality with over 20  years experience as an Immigration specialist. The firm has been handling daily applications with staff who speak English, Spanish, native German and Chinese.

Japan Visa
Mr Masahito Nakai started his practice in 1992 and is widely recognized as one of the leading immigrationlawyers in Japan. Masahito has been a lecturer or speaker on immigration and nationality topics on numerous occasions including an American Law School, the Japan Law Society, India IT Club, Chamber of Commerce of England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and United States of America in Japan. He is a co-author of the Guidebook for International Marriage which is known as a long life book most of Japanese immigration lawyers have on their shelves as a useful reference. Masahito Nakai is a member of Osaka Gyoseishoshi Lawyers Association and International Bar Association (IBA). He was awarded with a Certificate of International Legal Studies by Temple University Japan in 2002.

E:     W: nor the author guarantee the accuracy of the information on this page. It is recommend that particularly prior to your travels you check with the relevant government authority. Please contact us with any updates you may have. Last updated 19 February 2013.

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