Career Guide

Immigration Laws That Foreign Part-Time Workers Should Know in Japan

Immigration Laws That Foreign Part-Time Workers Should Know in Japan

In terms of the inflow of foreign populations, Japan has always been one of the top ranks among the world. The number of foreign residents, excluding illegal immigrants and short-term foreign visitors and tourists, was more than 2.23 million at the end of 2015, approximately 1.75% of the total population. As well known that Japan's shrinking labour workforce is fueling this growth.

Even so, Japan has insisted on welcoming high-end foreign talents, trainees and foreign students all these years. However a new immigration policy has come into effect since April, 2019 that Japan has decided to introduce a new visa, called Specified skilled worker, for non-professional foreign labourers. By 2025, Japanese government plans to receive 500,000 low-skilled labourers under this new visa status into 14 sectors such as construction, agriculture, health care and so on.

Foreign workers care about working or studying under the immigration laws of Japan, but also social insurance system. This article is going to discuss about these problems in a foreign part-time worker case.

Are foreigners allowed to do part-time job on Japanese immigration laws?

So you are already in Japan, you may want to try a part-time job for some extra money. Or you may receive an invitation for a temporary part-time job from friends. Before saying yes, this question should be confirmed, "Are you allowed to work part-timely?"

First of all, foreigners must have a visa status with work permit to be allowed to work paid in Japan. Short-Term Stay visa like tourism or business is not allowed to take part in paid work. There are 29 Work or Long-Term Stay visa status with work permit in Japan.

Specified visa: Spouse or child of Japanese national, Spouse of permanent resident, Long-term resident.

These visa holders get no restrictions on work so they are allowed to do part-time jobs.

General visa: Student, Training, Dependent (family stays).

There's no problem for these visa holders to work as unpaid volunteers or do temporary one-time jobs with a reward. However you are not allowed to work paid in Japan as it is easy to understand that foreign students are supposed to concentrate on studying but not working.

However, if you apply for Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted (we'll call it Unqualified Activity Permission below), from the immigration office, you can do part-time jobs in Japan with some conditions. We will talk about these conditions in part 2.

Highly skilled professional visa

Working visa: Professor, Artist, Skilled labor, Specified skilled worker, etc.

Unpaid volunteer work or one-time paid work is okay for these visa holders. You are also allowed to do the same type of work part-timely as the visa you acquired. For example, if you entered Japan with a "Skilled labor" visa as a chef, you are allowed to work as a chef part-timely at another restaurant. Though there is no problem under Japanese immigration laws, be careful not to violate work rules by checking whether there is a "non-competition obligation" in your contract that prohibits you to do the same job elsewhere.

However for a paid part-time work of a type different from the acquired visa, it is not allowed to continue doing in principle. According to Japanese immigration laws, if you entered Japan with a "Skilled labor" visa as a chef, you are only expected and permitted to stay in Japan by working as a chef, and will not be allowed to work as a language teacher just because you are good at teaching. But with an Unqualified Activity Permission, you are also allowed to take part in a different type of work part-timely with some conditions.

What kind of part-time jobs are allowed by Unqualified Activity Permission?

There are 2 kinds of Unqualified Activity Permission.

Individual permission

The company's name and location of the part-time job and the details of the duties are designated for the permission. Usually foreigners who have obtained a working visa may apply for this permission so that they are allowed to do a certain kind of work at a certain company with this permission.

Comprehensive permission

The name or location of the company or the details of the duties are not designated, but with the conditions that engaging in the work for not more than 28 hours a week and no amusement and entertainment business is operated at the place of work, such as clubs, cabarets, pachinko, and game centers. For a long-term holiday such as summer holiday, the upper limit is going to be 40 hours per week.

Usually foreigners who have obtained a General visa like Student or Dependent (family stays), may apply for this permission, so that they are allowed to do part-time jobs in places other than amusement or entertainment business for not more than 28 hours a week or 40 hours a week during the holiday.

One thing to note that foreigners can only carry out unqualified activities before the expiration date of the visa. So remember to renew your Unqualified Activity Permission when renewing your visa.

What about social insurance on Japanese immigration laws?

In the case of foreign part-time workers such as international students, unlike regular employment contracts, there are insurances that do not apply.

Health Insurance / Employees' Pension Insurance

Health Insurance covers medical expenses incurred by workers, while Employees' Pension Insurance provides benefits for old age, death or disability. For part-time workers, they can't enter these insurances as they don't meet general requirements.

Employment Insurance

Provide for workers who become unemployed and help to maintain stable employment such as by providing financial aid and subsidies. Same as other Japanese part-time workers, foreigners are also not covered by employment insurance.

Workers' Accident Compensation Insurance

Cover any illness or injury at work or while commuting to or from work. It applies to foreign part-time workers.

Other general laws such as the Labor Standards Law and the Minimum Wage Law apply to foreign part-time workers as well.