Japan Work Visa: A Step-by-Step Application Guide


Traditionally Japan is not considered to be one of the foremost countries for immigration for work. This is mostly because obtaining a work visa for Japan is comparatively harder than other places in Asia. However, with its aging population, the need for skilled workers in Japan is on the rise. So, if you are looking to immigrate for better employment opportunities, why not consider Japan as the destination? After all, it is a country known worldwide for its knack for innovation and technological advancements.

This article explores in depth the Japan work visa and the detailed procedure about how you can apply for one. Keep reading to learn more.

Do I Need a Work Visa for Japan?

Yes, to work in Japan in any capacity, a work visa is an absolute necessity. So if you are hoping to be employed in Japan, it is prudent to apply for the work visa even before you land in the country to make your move smoother.

Types of Japan Work Visa

The two main variants of the Japanese work permits are:

  • the Working visa, and
  • the Highly Skilled Professional visa

The Working Visa

This refers to the basic Japan work permit and is usually granted for a period ranging from 3 months to 5 years. It is suitable for people in several professions, including the following:

  • Professors, Researchers, and Instructors
  • Business Managers
  • Medical Practitioners
  • Legal and Accounting Professionals
  • Engineers
  • Journalists and other Humanities experts
  • Religious Workers
  • Artists and Entertainers

The Highly Skilled Professional Visa

As the name suggests, this visa is aimed at getting the best global talent to the country and is granted on a point-based system. People coming to Japan on this visa tend to enjoy greater perks than those on the working visa. Some of the extra permissions that the Highly Skilled Professional visa gives are: dependent visas for spouse and children, working visa for a spouse, visa for parents (with certain restrictions) and even visas for household help or other works, if necessary. This visa is given for a 5 year period.

A person who spends 3 years on the Highly Skilled Professional visa category can apply to be moved to the next tier of this visa type, which allows the applicant to stay indefinitely in the country for work. This visa type has 3 further sub-categories as follows:

  • Visa for refined academic research purposes
  • Visa for higher-level business management requirements
  • Visa for technical and specialized activities

How to Apply for the Japan Work Visa

Working Visa

As in the case of most countries across the world, the first step in obtaining a Japan work visa is to find a sponsor who is willing to apply for your visa. This sponsor can be a company, a research facility or an educational institute like a university or college. Once you are extended a job offer and you accept it, the sponsoring authority or individual is required to apply to the Japanese Regional Immigration Bureau for a certificate of your eligibility.

You will be required to produce certain documents for this application stage, namely:

  • A letter of assurance or guarantee
  • A duly completed and signed application form
  • A recent photograph (4 cm by 3 cm)
  • Documents that support your claim that you are seeking a working visa to enter on valid grounds
  • A return envelope with a stamp worth 392 yen for the return mail

Highly Skilled Professional Visa

If you are applying to the Highly Skilled Professional program, then in addition to the above-mentioned documents, you will also need to qualify according to their point-based merit system. This means that you will have to score 70 points or above to be even considered for this kind of visa.

While the certificate of eligibility is pending, you or your sponsor should also ensure that other relevant documents pertaining to things like the invitation letter, company or job details, list of dependent visa applicants, itinerary and stay in Japan, etc. are all in place.

The MOFA Japan website has a list of samples that can help you with your documents. You can also contact your local Japanese embassy in case you need clarification regarding which documents are necessary for your application procedure. Getting the services of a global immigration expert from a reputed agency is also a wise decision, especially if you want to avoid administrative hassles.

After Getting the Visa

Once the Japanese consulate or embassy grants you the visa, you are required to immigrate to the country within 3 months to maintain the validity of your work permit. Once you reach Japan, you will be required to obtain a residence card or ‘Zairyu’. The residence card is issued to the visa holders only at specific ports of entry.

Here is their list to make sure that you can choose one as per your convenience:

  • Hiroshima Airport, Hiroshima prefecture
  • Narita Airport, near Tokyo
  • Fukuoka Airport, Fukuoka prefecture
  • Haneda Airport, Tokyo
  • Kansai Airport, near Osaka
  • Chubu Airport, Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya
  • Shin Chitose Airport, Hokkaido, serving Sapporo area


It is recommended that once in Japan on a work visa, you always carry the Zairyu with you wherever you go. If the Japanese police stop you and ask for your identification, then you can produce this card. Failure to show the card is a legal violation and can attract penalties. Additionally, you must always keep the card updated regularly. In the event of a change in the residential address, get the card up to date by visiting a local municipal office in Japan within 14 days of the change.

Need Help in Applying for a Japan Work Visa?

Planning to take your business to Japan to make the best of its current economic situation, but not sure of any long-term plans? Opt for a legal entity that can be set up without delay and will let you conduct business before committing to permanent plans. That way you can test the market for customers and competition before taking the plunge.

In this regard, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), also known as a Employer of Record (EOR), can help. In addition to specialist immigration services, including help in applying for a Japan work visa, PEO experts can enable your business to flourish in Japan by taking care of processes like recruiting, onboarding, payroll, management of employees on your behalf. Read our article on the top three PEOs in Japan to find a professional partner who can assist.

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As a specialist in the area of overseas business expansion, Alan covers global business topics with a focus on identifying emerging markets and helping companies expand globally.

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