Working visa (resident status) in Japan

A status of residence that allows you to work in Japan is sometimes called a working visa. Status of residence and “visa” are legally different. Still, in this article, we will use them without making any particular distinction.

 What is the status of residence that allows you to work in Japan (work visa)?

As of January 2021, there are more than 30 types of status of residence that allow foreigners to work in Japan. 

General rule,

  • Foreigners are not allowed to work in Japan for the purpose of simple labor (blue-collar work). However, if you have one of the following statuses of residence: “Skilled labor,” “Trainee,” “Special Skills,” or “College Student” (part-time work for foreign students), you can do simple labor within a limited range.
  • In most cases, it’s the prerequisite for obtaining a residence status (work visa)  that you have a contract with a company to work for in Japan. It is not permitted to find a job in Japan after arriving in Japan. However, for example, foreign students can find a job in Japan after graduation. In this case, it is necessary to change the status of residence from “College Student” to “Engineer, Humanity, International”, etc.,

The following explains some of the statuses of residence that allow you to work

Business manager

The resident status required to start up a business as a manager or an administrator is “Business Management.” A manager is a representative director, president, CEO, etc., Administrators are, for example, general managers, factory managers, and branch managers, middle managers.

The details in this post

Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services

Roughly speaking, This is a qualification that allows people who have graduated from universities in other countries to work in white-collar jobs in Japan. There is a wide range of occupations. Interpreters, translators, consultants, software engineers, designers, marketing, advertising and public relations, construction designers, high-class hotels with many foreign guests, and overseas business representatives. However, the following professions may or may not be accepted on a case-by-case basis: photographers, hotels with few foreign guests, car mechanics, etc.

Intra-company transferee

Activities of a staff member transferred to a business office in Japan for a limited period of time from a business office established in a foreign country by a public or private organization which has its head office, branch office or other business offices in Japan, which are to be conducted at such business office in Japan and which are listed in the “Engineering/Specialist in Humanities/International Services”.

The difference with “Engineering/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” is that with “Engineering/Specialist in Humanities/International Services”, you can change jobs in Japan, but not with an Intra-company transferee.

If you want to change jobs with an Intra-company transferee, you need to change your qualification to “Engineering/Specialist in Humanities/International Services”, etc., after changing jobs.

Skilled labor

Activities to engage in services, which require industrial techniques or skills belonging to special fields based on a contract with public or private organizations in Japan. Chef of foreign cuisine, sports instructor, aircraft pilot, or craftsman of precious metals.

Technical intern training

Activities to acquire skills, etc. at a public or a private organization in Japan. The term “Trainee” is only a name. Still, it is a way to get cheap foreign labor to do simple labor, which is sometimes criticized.

Specified skilled worker

Status of Residence for foreign nationals engaging in work requiring skills that need a considerable degree of knowledge or experience belonging to a specific industrial field.

Specified Industry Fields (14 Fields): Nursing care, Building cleaning management, Machine parts & tooling industries, Industrial machinery industry, Electric,
electronics and information Industries, Construction industry, Shipbuilding, and ship machinery industry, Automobile repair and maintenance, Aviation industry,
Accommodation industry, Agriculture, Fishery & aquaculture, Manufacture of food and beverages, Foodservice industry

Specific skills allow for simple labor in Japan in specific industries.  However, I have the impression that  “special skills” is not widely used due to its strict requirements, such as the requirement of Japanese language skills for daily conversation, the fact that the skills test is in Japanese, and that the test is held only once a year and in the Philippines or Vietnam.

see more details. here.

Highly-skilled professional

The activities of highly-skilled professional classified into three categories: “highly-skilled academic research activities,” “highly-skilled professional/technical activities,” and “highly-skilled management/administrative activities,” and points are set according to the characteristics of each category, such as “educational background,” “employment history,” and “annual income.