What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?
‘Intra-company transferee’ status is the main permission that is granted for individuals who are being transferred by their employers to Japan and have been employed by the overseas entity for a period of at least one year prior to applying for a Japanese certificate of eligibility (CoE). This status is valid for the international transfer of staff between related organisations.Procedures
What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?
International assignees are required to obtain a CoE through their host office in Japan prior to applying for the work visa at the local consulate general of Japan. The international assignee is required to apply for a visa with the CoE in person at the consulate. As the CoE is valid for three months from the date of issuance, the assignee is required to enter Japan with a valid visa and CoE within that time period. An individual can begin working upon being granted landing permission along with appropriate immigration status to work.Period of stay
What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?
The maximum period of stay granted under the intra-company transferee status is five years under the current immigration law, while the minimum period is three months, and it is possible to be extended according to the period of assignment.Processing time
How long does it typically take to process the main categories?
The examination period for the main applications generally takes four to 12 weeks, depending on the location and size of operations of the host company in Japan.Staff benefits
Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?
The provision of benefits or facilities is not required to obtain a work permit at the time of application for the CoE.Assessment criteria
Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?
The immigration authorities in Japan follow objective criteria for most applications. In unusual cases, they will review the applications in detail and exercise the discretion of the Minister of Justice. In this case, the period for application may take longer.High net worth individuals and investors
Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?
No. All applications are examined based on the objective criteria for each category of immigration status.
Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?
No.Highly skilled individuals
Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?
A preferential immigration system adopts a points-based system for highly skilled foreign professionals if they accumulate enough points based on their educational and occupational background, annual income, position, Japanese language ability, etc. Individuals who meet the point threshold will benefit from expedited application procedures, broader work authorisation rights, expanded spousal work benefits, a shorter path to permanent residence, sponsoring a foreign national domestic helper and the ability to bring accompanying parents under certain circumstances.Ancestry and descent
Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?
Individuals of Japanese descent are entitled to the status of ‘long-term resident’. Japanese descendents include those who are ancestors of Japanese people who had travelled abroad as immigrants in the past.Minimum salary
Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?
Salary information is required to show that the level of pay is sufficient to live in Japan and the amount should be equivalent to that of local Japanese national employees who assume the same roles and responsibilities in the company. There are no guidelines in place that set minimum salary thresholds from an immigration prospective.Resident labour market test
Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?
Is there a special route for shortage occupations?
In April 2019, Japan launched a new immigration system aimed at bringing in workers from abroad into 14 sectors facing domestic workforce shortages: nursing care, building cleaning services, casting, industrial machinery manufacturing, electrical and electronic information, construction, shipbuilding and marine equipment, car maintenance, aviation, lodging, agriculture, fishery, food and beverage manufacturing, and the restaurant business.
The new system allows foreign workers aged 18 years or older to apply for two new residence statuses.Specified skilled worker (i)
This visa status allows people who have either completed a three-year trainee programme or passed a language and skills test to work in Japan. The initial duration of stay granted will be for a period of four or six months, or one year; however, this can be renewed for up to a total of five years. Workers who are granted this status will not be allowed to bring their family members to Japan.Specified skilled worker (ii)
This visa status, which requires higher skill levels than for the specified skilled worker (i) status, allows workers to live and work in Japan with their dependents. The initial duration of stay granted will be for six months, one year or three years, and there are no limits on the number of times the work permission can be renewed.Other eligibility requirements
Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?
A college or university degree, or at least 10 years’ work experience, in the same field as the applicant is planning to work in within Japan, would be required for the main immigration statuses other than the newly introduced specified skilled worker statuses.Third-party contractors
What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?
Third-party contractors should apply for a CoE through the recipient company where they actually work in Japan. Under the circumstances, it would be required to explain the relationship between the applicant, the recipient and the home companies. The recipient company in Japan needs to be responsible for the contractor in their company. An agreement between the recipient company and the contractor would be required, including information such as the period of contract; role and job title to be assumed; and amount of remuneration that the contractor may receive. Once the CoE is issued for the contractor, the individual will apply for the visa at the Japanese consulate with the CoE. With the CoE and a valid visa in his or her passport, the contractor will be granted landing permission by the immigration inspector at the airport, and at the same time, working status will be granted.Recognition of foreign qualifications
Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?
Most of the working statuses require academic qualifications from a university or college, of which the field of major should relate to the business field the applicant is being sent to Japan to work in. A copy of the diploma issued by the academic institution attended is required at the time of application. In the event such academic qualifications are not met, the applicant will need to show proof of professional experience in the field in question for a period of 10 years or more. However, where the applicant is an investor in the business or assumes the role of a registered director of the local corporation, proof of educational background is not required. For those who apply for ‘intra-company transferee’ status, it is not necessary to show proof of academic qualifications; however, an unbroken employment period with the overseas organisation in excess of one year should be verified.
For individuals with special skills, such as aircraft pilots, lawyers, doctors and nurses, certain other qualifications would be required.