Overview of "Specially Designated Activities" status of residence and points to note when hiring

6/27/2021 Updated

The shortage of labor due to the declining birthrate and aging population is a serious problem for Japanese companies. In order to secure a workforce, many companies are considering hiring foreign workers.

It is essential to check the status of residence when hiring a foreigner. However, there may be some people who have never heard of the “Specially Designated Activities” status of residence.

In the first place, is there any legal problem in hiring a foreigner with “Specially Designated Activities” status of residence?

In this article, we will also explain the basic value knowledge of the status of residence “Specially Designated Activities” and recruitment of foreign nationals.

Can I hire a foreigner with a status of residence of “Specially Designated Activities”?

Is there any legal problem in hiring foreign nationals with “Specially Designated Activities” status?

What is the background of the “Specially Designated Activities” status of residence? In the past, in order for a foreigner to work in Japan, he or she had to obtain a status of residence that allowed him or her to work. However, in recent years, as the needs of foreign workers became more diverse and some of them could not be categorized under the conventional status of residence, the need to revise the “Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act” increased, but this usually took a long time. Therefore, the new status of residence “Specially Designated Activities” was added to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act with the aim of expanding the range of employment without revising it.

However, the type of work is also determined by the “specified activities”. It does not mean that any foreign resident can do any kind of work. If you want to hire a foreigner, you need to check his/her “residence card” and “designation form”. The details will be explained later in this article.

What is the status of residence?

Before explaining about the “Specially Designated Activities” status of residence, I will briefly explain about the status of residence and residence card again.

Foreigners need a status of residence in order to enter and stay in Japan. There are several types of status of residence as follows

  1. Status of residence that allows employment (with restrictions on activities)
    19 types of employment, including diplomatic, official, professorial, artistic, religious, etc.
  2. Status of residence based on status (no restriction on activities)
    Permanent resident, spouse of Japanese national, etc.
  3. Availability of employment depends on the activity to be designated.
    Specified Activities
  4. Items for which employment is not permitted
    Cultural activities, short-term stays (sightseeing, conferences, etc.), study abroad, etc.

Reference: Know the types of status of residence |Visa Consultation Center for Foreigners’ Employment Hachioji
  (visa-consulting.tokyo )

What is the difference between a status of residence and a visa?

The major differences are as follows

  • Status of residence is issued by the Ministry of Justice.
  • Visas are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Before coming to Japan, foreigners go to the Japanese embassy or consulate in their country. The embassy or consulate verifies that the passport held by the person is valid and issues the visa. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan is the authority to issue visas.

The Immigration Bureau of Japan grants the status of residence to foreigners who come to Japan only for the reasons stated in their visas. This status is called “status of residence. Since the Immigration Bureau is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, the “status of residence” is issued by the Ministry of Justice.

Reference: Application for a certificate of eligibility | Immigration and Naturalization Service
Reference: Visa|Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

What is a resident card?

A residence card is issued to foreign nationals with a status of residence of more than three months as proof of residence. The following items are listed on the residence card.

  • Name
  • Birth date
  • gender
  • Nationality / Region
  • residence
  • status of residence (in Japan)
  • period of stay
  • Availability of employment
  • Effective date

When hiring a foreigner, you should always check the resident card.

Reference: What is a resident card? Immigration and Naturalization Agency

Explanation of “Specially Designated Activities” status of residence

As mentioned above, the Japanese government created the “Specially Designated Activities” category to accommodate activities that cannot be classified under the traditional status of residence. However, not all foreign nationals are able to work.

When hiring a foreigner with a “Specially Designated Activities” status, please be aware of the following points

Confirmation of “Residence Card” and “Certificate of Designation

About “Residence Card

For the residence card, please check the following points.

Foreigners who do not have a residence card cannot be employed.

(2) Expiration of the residence card:
Expiration of the residence card is regarded as expiration of the residence card and you cannot work.

If you search the Internet, you can find sites that explain how to identify counterfeit cards. However, recently, there are some cards on the market that look just like the real thing and are hard to distinguish.

New methods are emerging one after another, so there is a sense of uneasiness when using only the information on this website. We recommend that you check the website of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Reference: Immigration and Residence Management Agency |https://lapse-immi.moj.go.jp/ZEC/appl/e0/ZEC2/pages/FZECST011.aspx

About the “Letter of Designation

The residence card states that “Only work activities specified in the designation form are permitted. Please be sure to check your “Letter of Designation” as well. The “Letter of Designation” is attached to your passport.

Description of activities listed on the designation form
“Activities for which remuneration is received” can be worked
“Activities other than those for which remuneration is received” cannot be worked

Once you have been hired

Submit the “Notification of Employment Status of Foreign Nationals

When hiring or releasing a foreigner, you are required to submit a “Notification of Employment Status of Foreigners” to Hello Work. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to 300,000 yen per person employed. In addition, if the submitted report contains incorrect information, you will also be subject to punishment.

Compliance with the Labor Standards Law

Being a foreigner does not mean that certain laws do not apply to you. Working conditions, such as minimum wage and paid vacations, are the same as when hiring Japanese nationals. The Labor Standards Law is applicable to all people working in Japan.

Reference: “Notification of Employment Status of Foreign Nationals” is an obligation of all employers, and is required not only when hiring a foreign national, but also when a foreign national leaves the company! Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Reference: Application of Labor-Related Laws and Regulations to Foreign Workers
| Ehime Labor Bureau

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