Part-Time Work Permit for International Students

Part-Time Work Permit for International Students

Foreign nationals living in Japan, for example international students, housewives, or salarymen, may all think about working part-time. Not only because arbeit is really popular and highly-demanded in Japanese society, but also part-time work allows us to earn money while studying or taking care of family. Also arbeit may be a best way to learn about Japan's culture, improve Japanese language level and make friends. However, we may be prohibited to work paid depending on our status of residence, like Student, Dependent, which should be checked before finding a job.

Meanwhile, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act issues a work permit to foreign nationals, which is called Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted, to allow us to work in Japan under certain conditions. The work permit is a win-win for both Japanese society suffering from severe labor force shortage and foreign nationals. We are going to introduce the work permit, its work conditions, applicable visa holders, and how to apply for.

About Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted

Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act defines that foreign nationals residing in Japan should only engage in those activities declared when applying for the visa. For example, a person who obtained a Student visa for studying in Japan shouldn't work paid in the spare time of study. So shouldn't a housewife who obtained a Dependent visa to accompany family member residing in Japan. While the immigration control act issues a work permit for some visa holders to allow them work part-time.

There are two types of work permit:

・Designated permission: the name and location of the company that employs the foreign national and the details of the duties are designated.

・Comprehensive permission: no company information or work duty designated while only conditions on working hours and workplaces are designated.

As a comprehensive permission allows foreign nationals to change job freely, most of international students and housewives prefer the latter one.

Work conditions on the comprehensive work permit

Though allowed to work part-time under work permit, still foreigners shouldn't work too much to interfere with main activities. So the immigration control act defines the following work conditions for the Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted, and all foreigners working under this work permit should obey.

Working hours

Foreigners shouldn't work more than 28 hours a week. For Student visa holders, they shouldn't work more than 40 hours a week (up to 8 hours a day, which is the basic requirement of the labor standard act) during the breaks in the summer and winter. If someone engaging in more than one part-time jobs, the total working hours should meet the conditions.


No amusement and entertainment business is operated at the workplace, such as pachiko, host club, adult entertainment, etc. It means that foreigners working under the work permit can't work as a hostess in the host club, even as a cook assistant in the kitchen.

What if working without work permit

If a Student or Dependent visa holder works without the work permit, or violates the work limitations of the work permit, he or she will become an illegal worker and be subject to punishment or deportation from Japan. An international student may also be dropped out of school out of illegal working. Besides the employee, the employer will also be punished for hiring illegal worker or violating the work conditions.

Status of residence allowed to work part-time

The most common part-time working foreigners in Japan are under the following work or long-term stay visas:

Specified visa

Those people whose visas are granted according to their status or family/ancestry status, including Permanent resident, Spouse of permanent resident, Long-term resident, Spouse or child of Japanese national, can work freely in Japan. There is no condition on their working hours, workplace, industry or employment type. They can choose to work full-time or part-time without any work permit. They are also allowed to work in amusement and entertainment business.


International students are one of the most important labor forces in especially convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, factories, etc. As said before, without Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted obtained, they can't work paid.


Dependent is a visa for family stay and granted to the spouse or children of a foreign national with working visa. Currently a lot of housewives under this visa prefer to work part-time in supermarkets, convenience stores in the sapre time of housework and child raising. As said before, they should obtain a work permit before starting to work part-time.

Of course other working visa holders are also possible to work part-time under above work conditions if the work permit received.

How to apply for the work permit

The work permit should be applied at the regional immigration office in charge of applicant's address by the applicant. While the application procedure can be taken by the following person on behalf of the applicant:

・The legal representative of the applicant

・A member of staff of the accepting institution (school, company, etc.)

・An attorney or administrative scrivener

Necessary documents include:

・Application form filled in

・A document material that proves the part-time work content


・Residence card

・Student ID card in the case of international students

The application takes for two weeks to two months. After granted, the type and details of work permit (company name, address, work duty) will be indicated by a seal of verification attached to the passport, and on the back side of the residence card. Note that the work permit has a valid period same as that of the visa. So the work permit may need to reapplied when applying for a visa extension.