This is the second chapter of the TGD guide to working in Japan. Every month we will publish a new chapter covering the essential information you need to know to work in Japan. Enjoy!
The Japanese Working Visa : Not just a dream anymore
This is one the most popular topics, I’m quite sure some of you are reading this page because you searched on Google “How to get a visa as a designer in Japan”.
Some people have said that to get a “working visa” in Japan is very difficult, but I believe they didn’t have the right skills to achieve it. However recently it has become way more easier than before.
The growing startup “ecosystem” of Tokyo and the new immigration laws regulated by the Japanese Government have increased the focus on international talent looking for a job in Japan.
Many international designers have come with a working holiday visa and then search for a company (and consequently for a sponsor).
I did not have the chance to request a working holiday visa so I figured out an alternative way to get a working visa.
The easiest way is to attend a Japanese language school
While it would be ideal being hired directly from your country, this is very difficult, but not impossible. I have met several people living here because they transfered from within their multinational agency. Usually big companies such Rakuten or GMO use to hire talents from abroad but recently also smaller startups found it convenient and very productive to have employees come for a trial period and eventually hire them and sponsor them for a full working visa..
Being hired from abroad also means that you are classified a specialist in a discipline that nobody can really perform well as you in Japan. At least this the motivation that your company will need to explain at the immigration office.
What do you need to get your visa?
Well, a “Designer” visa doesn’t exist yet, unfortunately.
Originally designers working in japan could get two different types of visa * :
– Specialist in humanities/International Services
Since the new immigration laws designers can get several types depending by their experience, the business and the company of course:
– Specialist in Humanities / International Service
Degree in the corresponding field or 10 years professional experience
– Intra-company Transferee
Expats of the foreign companies or the subsidiary companies of Japanese firms located in overseas, it requires to have worked more than one year in the said office overseas. The new regulations seems that allowed to find several ways to achieve this visa.
Artistic activities that generate sufficient income to support life in Japan (painter, sculptor, photographer, writer, composer, songwriter, etc…)
When you apply for a visa there are two relevant requirements that can change the type of visa you are going to get, the years of specialization and the tertiary qualifications you have.
For instance, I had 8 years of specialization in my field and a 3 year degree at a Design Academy so i got an engineer visa.
My friend had 11 years of specialization in his field and no degree so he got a “specialist in humanities” visa. This kind of experience must be documented through recommendation letters from your previous employers.
The visa length can be from 1-5 years
Anyway have a look of this page to makes you clear: http://www.juridique.jp/immigration.html#workvisa
What do you need to bring to immigration office?
1) A copy of all your degrees (possibly from high-school) and a translation in English if your papers are written in a language apart from English. A Japanese translation is even better but not necessary.
2) (Rireksho) Your CV in Japanese and a version in English.
3) (Shokureki) Because the japanese cv isn’t enough detailed they require a second version of your CV with an detailed explanation of your job and position for each employer.
4) (Shoumeisho) If you attended a Japanese language school you should bring a certification, if you have got the JLPT N2 certification you should definitely bring a copy.
5) Contract with your employer, letter of appointment, invitation letter, or any other documents to prove your activities, position, salary, period of time you will need to stay in Japan, etc.
(In my case I had a letter detailing how my employer worked with Italian brands and how my experience as a designer in Italy was important to them.)
5.5) Letter from your employer.
6) Company’s certificate of registry (Tokibo Tohon)
7) The contract, of course.
8) Company’s most recent financial statements (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss statement)
9) Company’s withholding tax report
10) The Application sheet available from the immigration office or downloaded from this website.
11) 2 Passport size photos for documents.
More documents can be required depending on your nationality and other factors..
This can be quite stressful to do on your own, especially if you do not have high level Japanese language skills as the staff at the immigration department do not speak English.
However, you can pay for an immigration lawyer to do all of this for you and it can make the process a lot smoother. They will help you get the right paperwork, fill out the documents for you and take the whole application to the immigration department on your behalf.
However it will set you back around USD 800. Some companies who frequently hire international staff will simply pay for the immigration lawyer for you.
What happens when you change job in Japan?
So many people think that after getting a sponsorship they will be tied to that company forever. It’s not true. Here is the official explanation from the immigration website:
“Your working visa is valid until it expires, even if you change your job.
Your former employer can not take your visa away, and you can work at a new place under the visa you obtained with your former employer, if the type of activities remains the same.
If the type of activities changes however (for example from English teacher to an IT engineer), the category of your visa will no longer be appropriate, so you will need to change your visa (status of residence) as well.”
For further information the new immigration site is now offering a free consulting service to determine what options or solutions are available to you and to see how they can help you get a visa. It’s enough to fill out the form on the website.
Come back next month for the third instalment of the TGD Guide to working in Japan; The job interview.