Similar to any other country in the world, people hoping to work paid in Japan must obtain a visa, which is a stamp pressed or a seal of verification attached to their passport by one of the Japanese diplomatic missions, with work permit. Basically for foreigners, allowed activities are determined by their visa status, which is also called Status of Residence in Japan, and they must do what they claimed to the immigration office that they would be doing.
As we all know, visa for Short-Term Stay, which is a stay of up to 90 days for tourism, business, visiting friends or relatives, etc. is not allowed to take part in paid works. For foreigners who want to earn money in Japan, visa for Work or Long-Term Stay is needed, which includes 29 types of visa status and each of them has different requirements and authorized activities. These 29 visas can be divided into 5 main groups and let's focus on the work permit part.
These visas are granted according to the family status or other special reasons. There are 5 visa under this group:
Spouse of a Japanese national, biological child of a Japanese national.
Persons with Japanese ancestry, Indochinese refugee settlers, the spouse or children of Japanese nationals left behind in China, etc.
Personal help privately employed by diplomats, etc., working holiday, paid internships, candidate nurses and care workers who wish to enter Japan based on an EPA, etc.
Long Stay for sightseeing and recreation.
There is no restriction on the activities to be engaged for the first 3 visas, which means that these visa holders are allowed to work in any field or industry or have more than one activity, while the possibility or not to work for Designated activities visa is determined for each case.
These visa holders are not allowed to work paid in Japan as for example Students are expected to concentrate on studying during their stay in Japan. This group has 4 visa status.
College students, pre-college students, etc.
Trainees in a local government, etc.
The spouse and children of a foreign national with working visa, etc.
Unpaid internships, people studying the tea ceremony or Japanese flower arranging, etc.
However, these visa holders are possible to work if they obtain Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted from the immigration office. With this permission, foreigners will get a seal of verification attached to their passport or a written permission with The details of the newly permitted activity indicated. The details will be in either of the following manner:
・The name and location of the company and the details of the duties are designated;
・A "Comprehensive Permission" without the name or location of the company or the details of the duties designated, but with the conditions that they engage in the work for not more than 28 hours a week and no amusement and entertainment business is operated at the place of work.
So general visa holders are only possible to work under the limitations of either the designated company or work hours and workplace by this permission.
These visas focus on bringing the best high-skilled talents from around the world to work in Japan. There are 2 visas under this group.
Highly-skilled human resources per "Points System."
Dependents of the highly skilled foreign professional, etc.
These visas grant greater permissions than working visa, such as visas for dependent spouse and children, a work visa for spouse, visas for parents to take care of their grandchildren with certain restrictions and visas for household workers.
These are visas for work that requires high level or certain level of professional knowledge or skills, which may be the most common visa for foreigners to get work in Japan. Until 2019, foreigners are not possible to get a working visa for engaging in manual or simple labour like a construction work, but the policy changed as a new visa status came out. We are going to talk about it later. Working visas are designed for a number of different kinds of professionals.
University professor, assistant professor, assistant, etc.
Composers, songwriters, artists, sculptors, craftspeople, photographers, etc.
Religious people such as monks, bishops, missionaries, etc
Newspaper journalists, magazine journalists, editors, news cameramen, announcers, etc.
Company presidents, directors, etc.
Attorneys, judicial scriveners, public accountants, tax accountants, etc. certified in Japan.
Physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, etc. certified in Japan
Researchers, investigators, etc. at research institutes, etc.
Teachers, etc. at elementary schools, intermediate schools and high schools. To teach English in Japan applies to this visa.
Scientific engineers, IT engineers, foreign language teachers, interpreters, copywriters, designers, etc.
People transferred to the Japanese branch (head office of the same company, etc.)
Musicians, actors, singers, dancers, sports people, models, etc.
Chefs specializing in the food of a foreign country, animal trainers, pilots, sports trainers, sommeliers, etc.
Work-ready foreigners who possess certain expertise and skills in certain industrial fields.
The last one, Specified skilled worker visa status was started from April 1st, 2019 for lower-skilled workers to address for the shrinking workforce and age population in Japan. Over the next five years, this visa will allow about 345,000 foreign workers into 14 industries of Japan, including nursing care, restaurant, construction, custodial (building cleaning), agriculture, food and drink manufacturing, hospitality (hotel), materials, shipbuilding/marine, fisheries, automotive parts manufacturing, industrial machinery, electronic and electrical equipment, aviation.
All are fundamental industries of Japan, and there is no high skill requirements for applying for this visa, while a conversational-level Japanese with JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) N4 level is required.
Entrepreneur supported by municipalities in Japan and the spouse or children of the entrepreneur.
Diplomatic agents, diplomatic couriers, etc.
Administrative and technical staff of diplomatic missions and members of the service staff, etc.
There are dozens of visa allowing foreigners or expats to pursue their dream and earn money at the same time in Japan. However, they all have some restrictions in the work industry, or employer, or working hours or workplace except for Specified visa. Check the visa status carefully before participating in a work.