Work permits in Japan give the holder permission to work and to enter the country, and are known as work visas. These can broadly be divided into working visas and highly skilled professional visas.

There are over 30 different work visas available for Japan. The type of work an expat intends to do will determine the permit they would apply for. Examples of work visa categories include professor, researcher, engineer, caregiver and entertainer. Of particular interest to foreigners is the specified skilled worker category, as well as the humanities specialist category, which includes foreign-language teachers.

Specified skilled worker visas in Japan

The specified skills visa is split into two categories. These visas aim to encourage foreign workers to fill employment gaps in the Japanese labour market.

Specified Skills Visa 1 (SSV1)

Expats who work in fields including agriculture, nursing care, shipbuilding, hospitality and construction can apply for this visa. The visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for a maximum of five years.

Foreigners with this visa aren’t able to bring dependants with them. Workers who wish to stay in Japan for more than five years, or who want to bring their family with them, can apply for the Visa 2-SSV2.

Specified Skills Visa 2 (SSV2)

This visa can be renewed indefinitely and visa holders are able to bring their family to Japan. At the moment, only foreigners already in Japan on the SSV1 visa and who have a high level of specialisation in their field are able to apply for this visa.

Certificate of Eligibility

For most types of work visas, expats will need a job offer from a company in Japan before applying. The hiring  company acts as the applicant’s sponsor and must supply them with a Certificate of Eligibility. This certificate testifies that the applicant meets the requirements for a visa. Once it has been obtained, the certificate is submitted as part of the expat's work visa application at the Japanese embassy in their home country.

*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for the latest information.