Here’s How You Can Change Your Student Visa to a Working Visa in Japan

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Starting a new path in a foreign country takes a lot of courage, especially when you’re talking about transitioning from being a student to a full-time worker. In Japan, the very first step to making this successful transition is by changing your student visa to a working visa. 


There are different types of working visas that allow foreigners to work in Japan. One of the most common is the
Engineer, Specialist in Humanities, and International Services visa. This visa has one of the broadest categories, making it applicable to a wide range of jobs. 


To change your student visa to a working visa, you’ll have to follow three basic steps: 1. Look for an actual job that provides visa sponsorship; 2. Get the job and have an official notice (job contract); 3. Apply for the visa change. 


In this article, we answer the frequently asked questions when changing one’s Student Visa (
Ryuugakusei Visa) to an Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services (Gijutsu / Jinbun Chishiki / Kokusai Gyomu) Visa in Japan.


What must be done first?


The most basic thing to know is that, if you don’t have a sponsor, it’s virtually impossible to get a working visa in Japan. For that, you need to be hired by a company first, so that they can be your visa sponsor. Once you’ve gotten an official notice that you’re hired, it’s time for the next step—applying for the actual visa. 


What happens to your current visa? 


Your current student visa will expire on the date of validity as indicated on your card. Take note though, even if you have the “Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted in Status of Residence Previously Granted” (a.k.a the stamp at the back of your residence card that allows you to work part-time for a maximum of 28 hours a week), this privilege will still expire as soon as you graduate. Meaning, you cannot work part-time jobs after you graduate. However, you should also keep in mind that if you’re not doing activities appropriate for the category of an exchange student (literally, if you’re currently not studying at a school) for more than three months without good reason, your visa might be cancelled. That’s why, if you plan on doing activities beyond the student visa, it’s advisable to change your student visa to the appropriate one as soon as possible.  

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What are the basic requirements for work eligibility?


To be qualified for a working visa in Japan, one must be a university or a
senmon gakkou (technical institution) graduate in Japan. Overseas university graduates, who took up a four-year course, are also accepted. But, overseas graduates with associate degrees (two-year courses) are not eligible for a working visa. Having a diploma or a bachelor’s degree is very important when applying for this type of visa. 


Even if you’re still a student, you can start applying for a working visa, given that you have already landed a job three months prior to your graduation (for those studying in Japan). In the rare case that your visa gets accepted but you fail to graduate for whatever reason (rendering you ineligible), you are required to let immigration know beforehand. 


What are the required documents? 

Required/

Optional

Documents

Task Handler

Remarks

Required

Application for permission for a change of status of residence  (for applicant)

Yourself

2 parts (for applicant = yourself and for organization = company) in 1 set of application form

Required

Application for permission for a change of status of residence  (for organization)

Company

Ask the HR of your company to fill in this part.

Required

Photo (4 x 3 cm)

Yourself

Prepare a recent photo (no later than three months old)


If you use the same photo as your previous one, you’ll be asked to submit again. 

Required

Passport (original)

Yourself

Show it at the Immigration Office.

Required

Residence card (original, the most recent one)

Yourself

Show it at the Immigration Office.

Required

Legal record total table (copy, with tax office’s receiving stamp)

Company

If the company is publicly-listed, a copy of the Quarterly Corporate Report (??? Shikiho) must be submitted instead. 

Required

Employment Contract / Notice of Employment (copy)

Company

Prepare documents that will show your job description, salary, workplace, etc.

Required

Resume

Yourself

Required

Graduation Certificate

Yourself

Prepare documents that will show your title or degree. 


Ex. Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree

Required

Certificate of registered matters (Certificate of full registry records)

Company (Yourself)

If you know the name and office address of your company,  you can ask the Legal Affairs Bureau to issue. 

Required

Company Profile

Company

Required

Financial statement for the latest fiscal year (copy)

Company

Optional

Certificate of qualification (copy)

Ex. JLPT

Yourself

Optional

Academic transcript

Yourself

This will help explain what you have studied.

Optional

Certificate of attendance

Yourself

Some graduates, like those from technical institutions, might be asked to submit. 

Optional

Statement of reasons

Yourself/Company

This will explain the kind of work you will do, related to what you have studied. Although it is optional, this is an important document.


More or less, these are the basic documents you and the company will be asked to provide. Depending on the company or the applicant’s status, the number of documents for submission might increase or decrease. You should prepare one set of documents each. It must also be written in Japanese. If not, you must attach a Japanese translation.


Once all the necessary documents are complete, you should submit them to immigration then wait for the results. Sometimes, the company will do this for you, but usually, you’ll have to do this by yourself. The validity period of the visa changes depending on the conditions of your employment and your stay. If you’ve only been granted one year during your first application, it can be changed upon renewal to three years, then five years. 


Can I go back to my home country (or overseas) during the visa-changing procedure? 


If you’re applying for a change in visa but you want to leave Japan, it’s fine as long as you come back before your visa expires. However, if you’re planning to leave Japan, and you’re unable to receive your new visa before your current visa expires, you must come back within two months or risk losing your status. 


Is there anything you need to show immigration to prove you are applying for a change in visa? 


Yes, and it is provided to you in two ways. Depending on the region or prefecture, you are either given a stamp on your residence card proving that you are applying for a change in visa, or you are given proof in the form of a piece of paper to insert in your passport. Just show this to immigration on your way out of Japan, and you’re good to go!  

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What should I keep in mind so that my application doesn’t get rejected? 


An application for a change in visa (from student visa to working visa) may be rejected for the following reasons:


1. You worked beyond the allowed hours during your part-time job;
2. Not enough attendance in school;
3. Not enough means to support yourself;
4. Your major is different from the job description.


Make sure that you don’t give immigration a reason to reject your visa application by following the rules and regulations set by your school or the law and by ensuring that your job matches what you’ve studied. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but it should be in similar fields. For example, a literature graduate cannot suddenly work as a civil engineer.


If you’ve followed all the rules and regulations while staying in Japan, but fail to get a visa (with reason not falling under 1 or 2), you may extend your stay by opting for a
Designated Activities visa.


In general, when you’re changing visa types in Japan, processing usually takes about a month to three months.  Most application forms are in Japanese or English only. 


Kindly take note that laws, rules, and regulations may change without prior notice and this article only serves as a guideline.


Created with FORECAST Administrative Scrivener Corporation.


 (23 August 2019)

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