Japan’s Newest Visa Has Created More Work Opportunities for Foreign Students

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A new type of Designated Activities Visa, specifically for international students who graduated from Japanese universities and graduate schools, was launched last May 2019. With the
Designated Activities Visa No. 46, more work opportunities are being offered under various fields not included in the already existing Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services Visa (hereinafter to be referred to as Engineer/Humanities Visa). The new visa will now include jobs under hospitality services and manufacturing industries. 

How Does the Designated Activities Visa No. 46 Work?

Under the conditions of utilizing knowledge and skills they acquired from their chosen programs, as well as Japanese fluency,  the graduates of Japanese universities are given the chance to work in fields not included in the Engineer/Humanities Visa. As mentioned earlier, the graduates can now apply for field operations under the hospitality and manufacturing industries.

Currently, there is a high demand for bilingual staff in Japan who can translate, interpret, and do regular tasks in workplaces such as assembly lines in factories. Although the Engineer/Humanities Visa also includes translation and interpretation work, it does not allow the staff to do physical work in factories or in the restaurants. However, with the new Designated Activities Visa No. 46, working on-site is now allowed, remarkably expanding the range of opportunities for international students. 


The following conditions are required to acquire the Designated Activities Visa No. 46:

1. Educational Attainment

The applicant must be a graduate of a four-year degree in a Japanese university or must complete a program in a Japanese graduate school. Graduates of junior colleges or vocational schools and foreign universities or foreign graduate schools are not qualified.

2. Japanese Proficiency

One of the following must be attained:

a. Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level N1 or Business Japanese Proficiency Test 480 points and above
b. Major in the Japanese language in university or graduate school (if the applicant majored the Japanese language in a foreign university or graduate school, they must still be a graduate from a Japanese university or graduate school to be qualified)

3. Work Description

The work description must correspond to all of the following tasks.

a. Duties must include two-way communication utilizing Japanese language skills or translation and/or interpretation tasks
b. Duties requiring a certain level of academic and technical background that may qualify for the Engineer/Humanities Visa

For example, the following cases are allowed:

Ex. 1: The applicant, employed in a food establishment, must assist foreign customers and interpret for them, while also doing other customer service-related tasks (serving Japanese customers).
*Working in a restaurant by only washing dishes or cleaning is not allowed.


Ex. 2: The applicant, employed in a factory, must receive instructions from Japanese employees and relay them to foreign technical interns using another language, while also working in the assembly line.
*Working in a factory by only doing line operations is not allowed.

Ex. 3: The applicant, employed in a taxi company, must make tour proposals for foreign tourists, guide and interpret for them, while also working as a typical taxi driver (picking up and dropping off Japanese customers).
*Working in a taxi company by only doing maintenance and cleaning jobs is not allowed.

Necessary Documents

The following are the basic required documents. Additional documents may be required depending on your circumstances.

1. Application for Change of Status of Residence (Application for
Certificate of Eligibility when newly entering Japan)
2. Photo (4cm x 3cm)
3. Passport
4. Residence Card
5. Notice of Employment (copy) or Employment Contract (copy)
6. Reason for Hiring as prepared by the employer (signature and seal of representative or affiliated institution required)
7. Diploma (copy) or Certificate of Graduation (indicating the degree)
8. Proof of Japanese proficiency. Any of the following:

a. Japanese Proficiency Test Level N1 Certificate (copy)
b. Business Japanese Proficiency Test Certificate indicating 480 points and above (copy)
c. For those who majored the Japanese language in a foreign university, Diploma (copy) or Certificate of Graduation (indicating major, department, and faculty)

9. A document that states the company’s business description. Any of the following:

a. Company brochure
b. Copy of company website (page indicating business overview required)
c. Certificate of Registered Matters of company

Possible Reasons for Rejection of Visa Application:

There are many reasons for visa applicants to be denied. If your application was rejected, contact the Immigration Services Agency to clarify the cause.

For international students who tried changing to the Designated Activities Visa and failed, the most common reason is doing too much part-time work. Participating in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence, such as part-time jobs, is only allowed for 28 hours a week and eight hours a day during official long vacations stated by the university. It is considered bad behavior if you don’t follow these restrictions.

Overall, the scope of employment for international students has significantly expanded with the new visa. For smoother job hunting, remember not to overdo part-time work while studying!

Created with FORECAST Administrative Scrivener Corporation.

 (27 January 2020)

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