When you hire foreign talent in Japan, a Work Visa (work permit) must be obtained. There are various factors to hire foreign talent in Japan such as expanding your business, establishing a new office etc. In this article, we would like to provide the information and procedure on how to apply for a Work Visa in Japan, which is necessary when hiring a foreign talent in Japan.

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What is a Work Visa?

Work Visa is necessary for foreign talents to work in Japan. Work Visa is a certificate issued by the Japanese embassy or a consulate abroad who confirms the passport or application documents of a foreigner. When passing the immigration inspection in Japan, the officially granted residential permit and period of stay are affixed to the passport, which is called the “landing permit stamp”. 

*Visas do not guarantee for entering into Japan. Even if there is Visa available, the entry may be denied as some requirements are not met.

Difference between Work Visa and Residential Permit

A Visa is issued at a diplomatic mission abroad and attached to passport to enter the country. It means that the diplomatic mission abroad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) “approved” the entry into Japan to carry out the activities within the scope of the Visa. Foreigners coming to Japan are allowed to enter Japan by presenting the passport with this Visa to the immigration inspector. Whereas, the Residential Permit is a qualification that the law stipulates for foreigners to reside in Japan. Foreign nationals are supposed to stay in Japan by this period and there are activities provided for children who reside in Japan are determined by law according to their Residential Permit. Requirements to apply for 

Requirements to apply for Working Visa

To acquire a Work Visa, foreigners must first undergo an examination at the Immigration Bureau. The requirements vary depending on the type of Work Visa they obtain. The most important common conditions by the “Visa applicant” and the “accepting company”.

Visa applicant

  • Visa applicant’s educational background Sufficient acquisition of research degree
  • Working history of Visa applicant Whether applicant have a technical working history that matches the type of work Visa
  • Visa applicant’s job description The job description corresponds to the “resident status” stipulated by the immigration control and immigration laws.

Host Company

  • Profitability of the business of the host company The profitability of the business is sufficient so that the host company can pay the Visa applicant the same amount or more remuneration as the Japanese
  • Business stability of the host company The stability of the business is assured from the business content, capital, sales, gross profit, operating profit, ordinary profit, net profit, number of employees, etc. of the host company.
  • Employment necessity of host company Recipients need to use the knowledge and skills of the Visa applicant

How to apply for Work Visa

Below are some of the information needed for “When hiring a foreigner who is already in Japan” and “When hiring a foreigner who is overseas”.

When hiring a foreigner who is already in Japan

If the company want to hire a foreigner who is currently in Japan at a Japanese company, follow the procedure below. 

Steps to recruit foreigners in Japan

  1.  Confirmation of Residential Permit.
  2.  Signing of labour contract, mutual confirmation of working conditions.
  3.  Application for Work Visa to the Immigration Bureau.
  4.  Procedures for each applications.

Confirmation of Residential Permit

If the foreigner the company want to employ already resides in Japan, check the Residential Permit to see if the foreigner is legally permitted to work in Japan. Foreigners may also have Residential Permit cards. 

Residential Permit Card 

A residential permit card is held by a foreigner under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (Immigration Act) for medium- to long-term stays in Japan, for employment or married to a Japanese. As a general rule, it is not possible to allow foreigners who do not have a residential permit card to work, except for special permanent residents. 

The foreigners with a residential permit card need to confirm whether the job they are planning to work for is within the scope and whether the period of stay has expired. If the residential permit is different, recruitment will be only be available after confirming each the criteria (research history, work experience, work experience, etc.) that will allow the change of residential permit before hiring.

Signing of labour contract, mutual confirmation of working conditions

When a foreigner works in Japan, the same labour standards and labour-related laws are applied to a Japanese employee. To hire a foreigner, a labour contract is needed based on the Labor Standards Act. The employment contract will be written in a language that the foreigner can fully understand, explain the employment conditions in detail to the employee, and keep one copy of the signed contract.

Applying for a work visa to the Immigration Bureau

The application of residential permit varies depending on the employee’s status. There are 3 ways to apply: 

① When there is a change of job scope

When the foreigner has a change in job scope, they must apply to the Immigration Bureau for permission to change their residential permit. The following documents are required to apply for the “Resident Status Change Permit Application”. (Reference: Ministry of Justice “Resident Status Change Application” http://www.moj.go.jp/ONLINE/IMMIGRATION/16-2.html) 

*Please submit the latest information and required documents using the new form on the official website as appropriate.

  • Application form
  • Photo (length 40 mm x width 30 mm, 1 sheet, fill in the name on the back of the photo and attach it to the application form)
  • Materials according to the activities in Japan
  • Residential permit card (including alien registration certificate which is regarded as residence card)
  • Non-qualification activity permit
  • Passport or Certificate of Eligibility
  • Documents that prove your identity
  • Revenue stamp 

② When the foreigner has to change to a different job sector 

When a foreigner wants to change to a different job sector, the company needs to resend a new application. Additionally, when hiring foreigners the company is required to submit documents to the Immigration Bureau or Hello Work(a recruitment agency under the Government) For details, see the next section. 

③ Hiring foreigners who graduated from a university in Japan

If the company want to hire foreigner that just graduated as a full-time employee, the company need to switch the foreigner visa from a “student visa” to a “work visa”. The company will then apply for permission to change the residential permit at the nearest Regional Immigration Bureau that has jurisdiction over the address of the international student. The procedure for applying for changes is similar to ①, but some materials may differ, refer to the Ministry of Justice page for the latest information. (Ministry of Justice: Application for permission to change 

Procedures for each applications

When there is a confirmation to hire the foreigner, it is needed to submit various documents to the Immigration Bureau and Hello Work.

  1. “Document regarding contract period” If a foreigner changes jobs and the previous contract ends or a new contract is signed, they will need to submit a “Document regarding Contracting Institution” to the Immigration Bureau regarding both the ending contract and the new contract.
  2. “Document of employment status” Hiring companies are required to submit “Document of Employment Status” to Hello Work. If the company fail to send the document, the company will be fined 300,000 yen or less.

When hiring foreigners who are overseas

When you hire a foreigner from abroad to Japan, proceed as follows. 

Steps to hire foreigners abroad

  1. Ensure the employee is eligible for Work Visa 
  2. Apply for “Certificate of Eligibility for Residential Permit”
  3. Send “Certificate of Eligibility” to employee and apply for Work Visa
  4. Visa is issued

Ensure the employee is eligible for Work Visa

When hiring a foreigner from overseas, ensure the following criteria are met:

  1. The foreigners’ job scope must be within the stated job scope in the Work Visa (Residential Permit). 
  2. The foreigner’s academic and professional background should meet the application requirements. 

For instance, when recruiting marketers from overseas, marketing professionals can work under the stated sectors of residential permit “technology/humanities/international work”. Therefore, it is necessary for the employer to apply as an application agent and apply for a Work Visa under the sectors  “technology, humanities, and international work.” Furthermore, the employer must ensure that the employee has the required years of degree related to the marketing profession. The employer can confirm in advance with a graduation certificate or work history and verify the certificate of employment.

Apply for issuance of “Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status”

The person in charge of the host company, an administrative scrivener applies for the “Certificate of Eligibility” and receives it. 

What is “Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status”? 

It is a certificate required to show that the person applying meets the conditions for landing in Japan and has been examined by the Immigration Bureau. By receiving this certificate, the employer can apply for a Work Visa for foreigners. The following are the common documents required to apply for a “Certificate of Eligibility” under the technology/humanities/international services sectors. (Reference: Ministry of Justice “Application for Certificate of Eligibility” http://www.moj.go.jp/ONLINE/IMMIGRATION/16-1.html) 

*Please submit the latest information and required documents using the new form on the official website as appropriate.

  • Application Form for Certificate of Eligibility
  • Guarantee Certificate (Japanese/English)
  • Questionnaire
  • Photo
  • Reply envelope (A standard envelope with a postage stamp [for simple registered mail] attached with the address clearly stated)
  • Documents that certify that you are in the “category” of technology, humanities, and international work
  • Documents certifying the graduation of a vocational school *It takes about 2 weeks to 3 months from the start of the application procedure to the acquisition, depending on the size of the receiving company.

Send the “Certificate of Eligibility” to employee and apply for a visa

When the “Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status” is received, the employer is required to send this document to the employee. The employee will bring the “Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status” and other necessary documents to the Japanese embassy or consulate in his/her country, and apply for a visa. After the documents have been verified by the Japanese embassy and the Consulate General, the visa can be successfully applied.

Visa is issued and foreigner can start to work in Japan

Once the Work Visa is issued, the employee can start to work in Japan. 


*The expiration date of the Certificate of Eligibility for Resident Status is within 3 months from the date of issue.

The foreigners are required to arrive in Japan within the deadline. When the deadline exceeded, the Certificate of Eligibility will be lost and the foreigners will have to apply for a new certificate. Hence, the foreigners need to be well-prepared to ensure they arrive within the deadline. (Reference: Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/toko/visa/nagare/chouki.html)

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