Work Permits for Japan

Expats will need a visa to work in Australia
Getting a work permit for Japan can be difficult. It is easier for foreigners to secure jobs if they are already based in Japan as they are more easily able to attend interviews and network more effectively. However, they will need to return to their home country to apply for a work permit at the Japanese embassy as this cannot be done within Japan itself.

For most types of work permits, including the Specialist in Humanities permit to teach English, expats will need a job offer from a company in Japan before they can apply for the work permit. The company will organise a Certificate of Eligibility, an original document that foreigners will need to apply for a working visa at their local Japanese embassy.

There are about 12 different work permits for Japan, depending on the type of work one intends to do – expats need get a full list of the required documents and what the visa allows the holder to do from the Japanese embassy.

Foreigners are most likely to find jobs in Japan as English teachers, translators, IT personnel, chefs, models or in the entertainment industry. If under 30 and from a qualifying country, it's also possible to get a working holiday visa, which allows for part-time work in Japan for up to a year.
 

Changing a visa in Japan


There's no need for expats to change their visa status if they change employers while in Japan, as long as they still work in the same visa category (English teachers, copywriters and translators all fall under the Specialist in Humanities category, for example). Visas can be renewed from within Japan on an annual basis, at the local Immigration Office.
 

Getting a Resident (Zairyu) Card for Japan

 
In 2012, the Zairyu card programme replaced the old Alien Registration Card (gaijin) system which required expats relocating to Japan for a period longer than three months (90 days) to register at a local municipal office. The new system is far more convenient.
 
In contrast to the gaijin card, expats don't need to register at a municipal office upon arrival, but are rather granted the Zairyu Card at the airport (Narita, Haneda, Chubu and Kansai). If not arriving at one of the listed international airports, the card will be delivered in the mail.
 
Apart from this difference, the residence card also grants expats in Japan the right to multiple re-entries into the country and it extends the maximum length of stay from three to five years. This means that the old re-entry permit system no longer applies: instead of having to apply for a multiple-entry visa, expats working in Japan who hold a valid resident card will be able to re-enter the country and continue to work as long as they re-enter within one year of leaving Japan.
 
Having a residence card in Japan makes life much easier for expats, and allows them to engage with the country’s infrastructure by opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone contract or registering for the National Health Insurance benefits.

*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for the latest information.