We understand the difficulties in hiring foreign nationals, understanding status of residence, and establishing a company in Japan. In this article, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions regarding these issues via Q&A.
- Employment of Foreign Nationals
- Employment of Foreign Nationals (Labor Affairs)
- Working Visa Application Procedures
- Illegal Employment
- Other Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Shiodome Partners’ Services
Shiodome Partners provides total support for the employment of foreign nationals and their status of residence. If you have any questions about employment or visas for foreigners, please feel free to contact us.
1. Employment of Foreign Nationals
Q1: I have heard that there are no employment restrictions for people of Japanese descent, is this true?
Answer: Just because you are of Japanese descent (or as we say Nikkei-jin) does not necessarily mean that there are “zero” restrictions for employment. Second and third generation Japanese Americans are allowed to enter Japan as “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” or “Long-Term Resident”. As with the other statuses, the period of stay is limited, but there are no restrictions on employment for Nikkei-jin with either of these residence statuses.
Similarly, Nikkeijin with “Permanent Resident” or “Spouse of Permanent Resident” status can work in what is regarded as “simple” labor. Nikkeij-jin residing in Japan with other statuses are basically only allowed to work within the scope of the status they have been granted.
Q2: What exactly is “permission to engage in an activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted”?
Answer: “Permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted” means that the Immigration Bureau permits foreigners to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted. For example, working is not permitted under the “Student” or “Dependent” status of residences.
However, if you have a “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted”, you are allowed to work part-time under certain conditions. This is called “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted,” which is a special permission granted by the Immigration Bureau for activities that are not permitted under the original status of residence.
Q3: Is it possible to hire international students as a part-time worker?
Answer: Hiring international students is limited to cases where the student has obtained a regular “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” in Japan. When hiring, employers are required to confirm whether the foreign student has the status mentioned above written on their residence card.
Even if you have the status mentioned above, it does not mean that you are allowed to work part-time without restriction. Please refer to the following Q&A for restrictions on work.
Q4: Are there any work restrictions when hiring international students as part-time workers?
Answer: There are restrictions on the amount of work and hours that an international students may engage in. The context of work permitted for the “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” does not allow for holders to work in the adult entertainment businesses.
The status holder will be allowed part-time work for up to 28 hours per week. There are exceptions when moving into a long vacation where the status holder will be allowed an 8-hour workday.
Q5: This is my first time hiring a foreigner. Are there any ways I can confirm whether or not the foreigner is allowed to work in Japan?
Answer: You should be able to check the “status of residence” of the foreigner stated on their “residence card”. If the status of residence of the foreigner you plan to hire is “Student” or “Dependent” which does not allow employment, check if there is a permit for activities other than those permitted on the back of the resident card. If there is a clear permit printed on the card, the candidate may work as a part-time worker under certain conditions.
You can check the website of the Ministry of Justice for more details on how to read the status of residence. You can also check the validity of the residence card based on the residence card number and expiration date on the Ministry of Justice website.
Q6: I would like to hire a staff member to work for a short period of time. Is it OK to hire a foreigner with “Temporary Visitor” status?
Answer: Working with a “Temporary Visitor” status is not allowed. Therefore, even if a foreigner can stay in Japan during the period you want to hire, you cannot hire the candidate if their status of residence is “Temporary Visitor”.
Q7: Is it possible to work in Japan with a Specially Designated Activities (Working Holiday) status of residence?
Answer: The working holiday system is a system under which, based on an agreement between Japan and a country/region, each country/region allows young people to enter Japan for the purpose of vacation and to work incidentally to supplement their travel and accommodation funds during their stay. Therefore, under certain conditions it is possible to engage in incidental employment.
Q8: I am staying in Japan on a working holiday visa, but can I change my visa status to a working visa?
Answer: Although some countries do not allow you to change your visa status, if you find a job at a Japanese company while you are in Japan on a working holiday, you are able to change your visa status if certain requirements are met.
Q9: I hired a foreigner, but my application for “change of status” was not approved. Is it possible to reapply?
Answer: It would be necessary to first confirm the reason for the rejection. If you are able to find the culprit, you may be able to re-apply and succeed this time.
Q10: I heard that you need to obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility” in order to hire a foreigner from overseas to work in Japan.
Answer: When approved, a Certificate of Eligibility is a certificate issued when you apply to the Immigration Bureau to obtain a new status of residence (application for approval).
In order for a foreigner residing overseas to work in Japan, he or she would need to obtain the appropriate status of residence. This can be done by presenting the Certificate of Eligibility to the immigration inspector at the airport when entering and receiving a residence card when coming into Japan. In this case, a “Certificate of Eligibility” is required.
This certificate will also be used in the visa issuance procedures at the Japanese embassy or consulate abroad before you come to Japan.
Q11: I have decided to hire a foreign student. Is it possible to change the student’s residence status to a working visa after dropping out of a Japanese university?
Answer: It is possible to apply for a change of status from “Student (Status of Residence)” to “Working Visa”. However, since the student originally came to Japan for the purpose of studying, the screening process is particularly strict when the student drops out of school and changes the residence status to work. Therefore, when applying, there is a possibility that the change of status of residence will not be approved.
2. Employment of Foreign Nationals (Labor)
Q1: What should I be aware of regarding employee contracts with foreign workers?
Answer: Employee contracts for foreigners should have clear context and easy to understand details. For example, if there is the following work is not mentioned: miscellaneous work, cleaning, etc. in the employee contract, even if you ask for such work to be done at work, there may be a case where the employee will refuse the work claiming that it is not a task mentioned in the contract.
Even matters that are tacitly understood between Japanese people need to be clearly stated in the contract when working with a foreigner. In particular, it is important to clearly describe working hours, vacation time, and overtime. If the contract is unclear, it may lead to problems in the future.
Q2: If I hire a foreign national, do I need to submit any notification?
Answer: When a foreign worker is hired or has left the job with a status of residence other than “special permanent resident”, “diplomatic” or “official”, the employer is required to report the acquisition/loss of the insured status of employment insurance or the employment status of the foreigner.
Which notification is required depends on whether the foreigner is covered by employment insurance or not. If you fail to submit the notification or submit a false notification, you may be fined up to 300,000 yen.
Q3: I have found a job at a Japanese company. What is the purpose of paying unemployment insurance premiums?
Answer: The unemployment insurance system is a comprehensive system that provides unemployment benefits to unemployed workers to help stabilize their lives and employment, and to assist them in finding new employment. Regardless of nationality, unemployment insurance is equally applicable to foreigners as it is to Japanese nationals.
Q4: If I hire a foreigner, do I have to enroll him/her in social insurance or labor insurance?
Answer: As a general rule, foreign workers are subject to the same coverage as Japanese workers, but there are exceptional cases where they do not have to join social insurance.
Q5: If a foreign national who joined a company as a part-time worker for a short period of time and leaves the company before the deadline for reporting under the Employment Status Report System for Foreigners, can I submit both the employment and separation reports at once?
Answer: It is possible to report both employment and separation at the same time. In this case, the dates of both employment and separation should be indicated in the report.
Q6: Is it necessary to submit the passport (copy) or residence card (copy) of foreign employees together with the notification of employment status of foreign nationals?
Answer: Under the Notification of Employment Status of Foreign Nationals system, employers are required to confirm the names and other personal information of the foreign nationals they employ and submit the notification, but it is not necessary to enclose copies of the passports or residence cards of the foreign nationals concerned. However, it is of course important to check the residence card and other documents thoroughly before preparing the report to ensure that there aren’t any errors in the contents.
3. Employment of Foreign Nationals (Labor)
Q1: What is a working visa?
Answer: Simply put, there is no “working visa” but there is a form of a working visa (status of residence) that allows you to work and earn a salary in Japan. As explained in the next question below, there are 19 types of working visas.
Q2: What are the different types of work visas?
Answer: There are 19 types of work visas:
(1) diplomatic, (2) official, (3) teaching, (4) artist, (5) religious, (6) journalist, (7) highly specialized, (8) business manager, (9) legal/accounting, (10) medical, (11) research, (12) education, (13) engineer/specialist in humanities/international services, (14) intra-company transfer, (15) nursing care, (16) entertainment, (17) skilled labor, (18) specified skilled worker, (19) technical intern training.
For more information, please see “Types of Visas for Foreigners to Stay in Japan”.
Q3: What is the relationship between a business manager visa and a working visa?
Answer: In a broad sense, the business manager visa is one of the statuses of residence categorized under working visa. The business manager visa is further divided into “management” and “administration” components.
The “management” component of the visa is for those who intend to engage in the management of the business activities, and requires the business entity to meet one of the following (a) through (c) as the scale requirement, and in addition to this, (d) must be met as the requirement for securing the business.
- (a) Employ at least two full-time employees other than the business owner who are residents of Japan (excluding certain persons)
- (b) Have a total capital or investment of at least 5 million yen
- (c) Be of a scale equivalent to (a) or (b), and (d)
- (d) Have secured a business office, store, or facility to operate the business.
On the other hand, the “administration” component of the visa is for those who intend to engage in the administration of the business itself. The requirements for this visa are:
- (a) At least three years of experience in business management or administration (including time spent in graduate school majoring in a subject related to business management or administration); and
- (b) Remuneration equivalent to or higher than that received by a Japanese national.
For more details, please refer to “Procedures for obtaining a new Management/ Administration Visa (status of residence)”.
4. Illegal employment
Illegal employment is defined in the following cases.
(1) Income-generating activities conducted by foreigners who do not have regular status of residence, such as entering or landing in Japan illegally, or remaining in Japan illegally beyond the prescribed period of stay.
(2) Activities to operate a business that involves income other than that of the status of residence granted or activities to receive remuneration, even for foreigners with regular status of residence, without obtaining the necessary permission from the Immigration Bureau.
For more information, please also see “Points to Note Regarding Employment of Foreigners [Detailed Explanation] Status of Residence, Employment Contract, Notification, etc.
Q1: What are the crimes for illegal hire?
Answer: The crime for hiring illegally is stipulated in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (Immigration Act). Those offenses are:
(1) hiring a foreigner to work illegally in connection with a business activity, (2) placing a foreigner under one’s control in order to cause him/her to work illegally, (3) causing a foreigner to work illegally as a business, or (4) acting as an intermediary in connection with the act described in (2). All acts are subject to punishment.
For more information, please refer to “Points to Note Regarding Employment of Foreigners [Detailed Explanation] Status of Residence, Employment Contract, Notification, etc.”.
Q2: I hired a foreigner who is working illegally without knowing it, is it a crime? Are there any penalties?
Answer: Even if the company does not clearly recognize that the foreigner is working illegally, if there is a possibility that the foreigner is working illegally, but the company does not actively check the situation, the company will be considered to have been negligent in not knowing that the foreigner is working illegally and will not be exempt from any form of punishment. For more information, see “Employment of Foreigners”.
For more information, please refer to “Points to Note Regarding Employment of Foreigners [Detailed Explanation] Status of Residence, Employment Contract, Notification, etc.”.
5. Other frequently asked questions
Q1: What restrictions are there on foreigners who enter Japan without a visa to engage in activities in Japan?
Answer: The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act stipulates the activities that foreigners can engage in when they enter Japan. This law states that, in principle, foreigners who enter Japan on a “temporary visitor” visa other than a working visa are not allowed to work and earn remuneration. In addition, foreigners who enter Japan on a “Temporary Visitor” visa must leave the country before the expiration of their designated period of stay.
Q2: I am planning to work as a research student in a university laboratory. It seems that some activities may fall under the category of “cultural activities”, but what’s the difference between the “study abroad” activity?
Answer: Activities to receive an education at a Japanese university or other institution for a specified period of time fall under the “College Student” status of residence. However, if you are engaged in “academic activities that do not involve income” at a university, such as conducting your own surveys or research on a certain topic, this may fall under the “cultural activities” category.
Q3: Can international students bring their families to live with them in Japan?
Answer: International students who are enrolled in universities or special training colleges can bring their spouses and children to live with them. However, international students enrolled in high schools and various types of schools are not allowed to bring their spouses or children to live with them.
Q4: How do international students apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” to work part-time, and what documents are required?
Answer: For international students to work part-time, they must apply for and receive permission for an “activity other than that permitted” under the status of residence previously granted. The required documents are:
(1) an application for permission to engage in an activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted, and (2) a document that clarifies the details of the activity for which the application is being made.
Q5: It seems that there are some cases where foreign students do not need to obtain an “activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted” for part-time work.
Answer: If you are staying in Japan with the status of residence of “Student”, and you are receiving education at a university or college of technology (limited to the fourth and fifth grades and major courses), you do not need to obtain permission for an “activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted” if you are engaged in activities to support education or research for remuneration under a contract with the university or institution of technology.
Q6: Is it possible for my spouse or child to enroll in a school and study as a student under the “Dependent” status of residence? Or should it be changed to a “Student” residence status?
Answer: It is not a violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act if your spouse or child enrolls in a university with a “Dependent” status of residence and engages in educational activities, excluding work-related activities. However, it will be necessary to change the status of residence to “Student”. If the status of residence is changed to “Student”, one may continue to stay in Japan even if the dependents leave Japan.
Q7: Is it possible to enter Japan from overseas with a permanent resident status?
Answer: According to the provisions of Article 7, Paragraph 1, Item 2 of the Immigration Control Act, foreign nationals cannot enter Japan with the status of “permanent resident” from the beginning.
Q8: What exactly does “good conduct” mean when applying for a permanent residence permit?
Answer: “Good conduct” means that you have obeyed the law and are living a life that is not socially reprehensible. If you have been involved in a crime and received a criminal record, or if you have been involved in a drunk driving or traffic accident and a certain period has not passed, you may not be granted a permanent residence permit.
Q9: Is it possible to register a foreigner’s child as an adopted child and bring him/her to Japan?
Answer: Adoption is a complicated procedure and there are many conditions. Even if the adoption is approved, not all foreign nationals will be issued a visa. When a visa is granted to a foreigner’s adopted child, the following cases apply.
A “long-term resident” visa is granted to a foreign adopted child under the age of six who is being supported by a Japanese national, permanent resident, special permanent resident, or long-term resident.
If the adopted child is an adult, he or she will not be granted a legal visa to live in Japan.
Q10: I have remarried a Japanese national and have “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” status of residence. I would like to invite my elementary school-aged child from my previous marriage to live with me in Japan.
Answer: If your adopted child is over 6 years old and is a stepchild of your foreign spouse, you may apply for a “Permanent Resident” visa. Please contact us for details.
Q11: I graduated from a vocational school in Japan. I would like to change my visa status to a “Business Manager” visa, but my attendance rate is not very good. Is it difficult to obtain the said visa?
Answer: When changing your status of residence from “Student” to another status of residence, your attendance rate at school is also subject to review, so in some cases you may not be granted a change of status. If you have a legitimate reason for your low attendance rate, you will be required to submit an explanation along with supporting documents.
Q12: Is it necessary for foreign nationals to submit information on MyNumber when completing procedures at the Immigration Bureau?
Answer: It is not necessary to submit information on your MyNumber for each application procedure at the Immigration Bureau.
6. About Shiodome Partners’ Services
Q1: Please tell me about Shiodome Partners’ free consultations on procedures for hiring foreign nationals and applying for work visas.
Answer: Our firm provides support for hiring foreign nationals and applying for working visas. We offer free initial consultations (some services are not available depending on the content). We will talk directly with you to determine the best way to deal with the questions, concerns, and problems you are facing regarding employment of foreign nationals and application for working visas.
Q2: I would like to communicate with you via email or Skype.
Answer: We offer various communication methods that are not limited to email or Skype. Our services regarding employment of foreign nationals and procedures for applying for work visas are also provided mainly through e-mail.
Q3: What are the details of Shiodome Partners’ foreign language services?
Answer: Shiodome Partners has many bilingual staff members who are fluent in English and Chinese across all our services. We will be able to provide a barrier free experience so that you may feel at home.
In this article, we have introduced some of the questions that people who want to start a business or hire foreigners in Japan often encounter. We hope this article has been useful to you.
If you have any questions regarding starting a business in Japan, hiring foreign nationals, or visa issues, please feel free to contact us.