I can't work on a tourist visa. Which visa allows me to work in Japan?

6/27/2021 Updated

Have you ever imagined working in the country you are traveling to?

There may be many reasons, such as to learn about the society and lifestyle of the country, or to earn money for travel expenses. There are many reasons why a foreigner might want to work in Japan. In this article, we will introduce how foreigners with tourist visas in Japan can work if they want to.

It is impossible to work on a tourist visa in Japan, even on a part-time basis.

As I mentioned in the title, first of all, it is impossible under any circumstances for foreigners to work on a temporary visitor visa obtained for tourism. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has a page titled “When hiring foreigners, please check if they are allowed to work. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW), a temporary visitor visa is classified as a status of residence that does not allow employment in principle.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan states in its Q&A on visas that there are some nationalities (regions) that do not require a visa if their stay in Japan is 90 days or less and they do not engage in remunerated activities.

However, there are some cases where a foreigner with a temporary visitor visa is hired and then asked to switch to a work visa. There are also some people who obtain a temporary visitor visa that allows them to stay in Japan for up to 90 days, or extend their period of stay while job hunting, and then get a work visa after receiving a job offer.

Hiring on a Temporary Visitor Visa

If you still want to hire a foreigner with a short-stay visa, or if such a foreigner wants to work, what can you do?

Changing from a short-stay visa to another work visa is not allowed except in unavoidable cases. Please refer to Article 20-3 of the Immigration Control Act.

The following cases apply to this unavoidable situation.

  • When applying for a “Certificate of Eligibility” while staying in Japan for a short period of time, and then applying for a change of status to the one you wish to change (if your short-stay period of stay ends while you are applying, you will need to temporarily return to your home country)
  • If you have a spouse who is a Japanese citizen or a permanent resident

If you fall into one of the above cases, your application may be approved if you prepare the necessary documents and apply for it. In particular, you may be thinking about applying for a “Certificate of Eligibility” during your stay in Japan. Please proceed with the application while checking with a specialist as needed.

Other statuses of residence that do not allow employment in principle

In addition to the tourist visa, there are four other visas that do not allow work in principle: cultural activities, study abroad, training, and family stay.

If a foreigner with a college student visa or a family stay visa wants to work part-time, he or she must apply for an activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted at the regional immigration office. As a general rule, the working hours for both types of work are limited to 28 hours per week, and working longer than that will result in penalties.

In recent years, there have been many unscrupulous study abroad mediators, and there are some students who try to get a student visa for the purpose of studying Japanese and cover their study abroad expenses by working part-time in Japan.

In countries such as Vietnam, where there is a lot of similar damage, there is a consultation service of their own, so if you find an international student in the above situation, please help them find a consultation service.

Coronal influences

The Immigration and Refugee Management Agency has also announced what to do if you are close to a foreigner who visited Japan on a tourist visa, but is now unable to return due to the current corona disaster.

According to the “Handling of Residency Applications from Medium- to Long-Term Residents and Former Medium- to Long-Term Residents Who Have Difficulties Returning Home Due to the Influence of the New Coronavirus Infection” announced by the Agency in May 2020, after a specified period of time, the status of residence will be changed and the applicant will be able to stay in Japan as follows.

  • For those who have been or are staying in Japan with a college student visa and wish to work (90 days of short-term stay) -> specified activities (part-time work of 28 hours or less per week is allowed, 6 months of stay is allowed)
  • Those who have a status of residence of Technical Internship or Specially Designated Activities and wish to work (Specially Designated Activities are limited to Internship No. 9, Foreign Construction Worker No. 32, Foreign Shipbuilding Worker No. 35, and Foreign Manufacturing Employee No. 42. (Special activities are limited to Internship No. 9, Construction Worker No. 32, Shipbuilding Worker No. 35, and Manufacturing Worker No. 42.
  • Other status of residence (including those who do not wish to work with the above status of residence): 90 days for short-term stay → specified activities (not allowed to work), 6 months of stay possible.

If there is anyone in your area who is having trouble changing their status of residence, please let them know.

In this article, we discussed the cases where it is possible to work in Japan with a tourist visa. It is not possible to work on a tourist visa, and if you want to change to another visa while you are still in Japan on a tourist visa, you must have a spouse or have gone through the process of changing to another status of residence. The procedure for changing your status of residence is complicated, so it is best to rely on a specialist.

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