February 2015

This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in Japan. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.



Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:

• Market research;
• Business liaison or consultation;
• Signing a contract;
• Providing after-sale service for imported machinery;
• Inspecting or visiting plants, trade fairs, etc.;
• Explanatory meetings.

Type of Business Visas – Certain nationals may enter Japan without need of a business visa (visa-exempt nationals). All other nationals will require a temporary visit visa (business).

Basic Requirements 

1. Intention of a genuine visit for business and not for paid employment;
2. Valid passport;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to Japan;
4. No intention to permanently reside in Japan;
5. A ticket for onward travel from Japan;
6. Proof of funds.

Estimated Processing Times – This varies by diplomatic post and country.

Maximum Time On Visa – This visa allows business people to make a short business visit to Japan for up to three months during their visa validity period.

Typical Documents Required – All travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:

• a valid passport or other acceptable travel document and in some cases;
• a valid visa or authority to enter Japan.


Basic Requirements – The principle visa category for temporary employment in Japan is the Work Visa. This is a category for employers to sponsor approved skilled workers to work in Japan on a temporary basis.

Process Overview – The process for obtaining a Work Visa is as follows:

1. Certificate of Eligibility (COE) – filed with the Immigration Bureau in Japan;
2. Entry Visa application – filed at the Japanese Consulate General abroad;
3. Landing Permission & Issuance of Zairyu Card – immediately upon arrival in Japan the employee and accompanying dependents will be required to present their passports and COEs. They will be granted Landing Permissions, which will serve as their work and residence visas. In addition, depending on their point of entry, some employees and dependents will receive their Zairyu Card immediately upon arrival and some will receive their Zairyu Cards within 5-7 days from the Immigration Bureau;
4. Registration of Residence – must be completed within 14 days of arrival in Japan.

Note that an alternative process exists for change of status within Japan from visitor to work authorized; this route allows earlier entry to Japan, but work is still not permitted until the Certificate of Eligibility has been obtained and the change of status process completed. Please contact Pro-Link GLOBAL for more details.

Estimated Processing Time – Six to eight weeks.

Validity periods – Visas are generally valid for up to three years.

Family Members – Dependents of Work Visa holders are not granted permission to work in Japan.

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