Immigration Categories

A brief description of corporate immigration categories by assignment type follows. The appropriate immigration category or status for your employees will depend on their specific details and on your company. The most common category for corporate transfers in our experience is the work visa for an intra-company transferee. For details on non-typical categories not listed below (investors, special programs), please contact your representative.

  • Work visa for intra-company transferees and dependents
  • Work visa for new hires
  • Internship programmes for university students
  • Highly skilled professionals
  • Short term work assignments

Typical Process Overview

The following process overview is applicable for work visas for intra-company transferees and dependents. Approximate overall processing time from the time the first step is submitted to the time the employee is legal to work in Japan is four (4) to six (6) weeks. However, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in, as should processing time for completion of post arrival formalities. Average processing time for each individual step is noted below.

Step One: Certificate of Eligibility

Processing Time: Three (3) to five (5) weeks

An application of Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is filed to the Immigration Bureau of Japan by proxy at the request of employee (and family members). The immigration bureau issues the COE upon approval. For spouse or child of a Japanese national, the COE requirement may be waived for a specific visa.

Step Two: Work Visa/Dependent Visa

Processing Time: Two (2) to six (6) days

The original COE is couriered to the employee in order to apply for a Work Visa (and dependent visas for family members) at the nearest Japanese embassy/consulate in the home or residence country. The COE is valid for three (3) months from the issuance date. The employee (and family members) must apply for the visa and enter Japan before the COE expires. Personal appearance is usually required to apply for and collect the visa.

Step Three: Landing Examination

Processing Time: Same day

Upon arrival in Japan, a landing examination procedure is conducted at the immigration control checkpoint in the airport by taking a photograph and fingerprints. The COE needs to be submitted and an embarkation should be filled out and submitted at the same time. After the inspection, the immigration officer issues a Residence Card and endorses the passport with a landing permission seal which indicates the designated resident status and period of stay. The residence card will be your Identification card during your stay in Japan.

Step Four: Residence Registration and Re-Entry Permit

Processing Time: Two (2) to three (3) days

After arrival in Japan, Residence Registration is required at the local ward/city office in the area of residence for the new address in Japan. The new address will be endorsed on the back of the residence card. A Re-Entry Permit will be necessary to re-enter Japan if the employee (and family members) will be out of Japan for more than one (1) year from the departure date. The Re-Entry permit can be obtained at the local immigration bureau in Japan and is placed in the passport.

Typical Documents Obtained

Following the process described above will result in the obtention of the following immigration documents. Typical validity is noted next to each document name. For details on the renewal process, please see the next section, “Renewal.”

  • Certificate of Eligibility (COE) (在留資格認定証明書): Three (3) months from date of issue
  • Visa (査証): Single: Three (3) months, Multiple: One (1) to five (5) years
  • Resident Status (在留資格): Maximum five (5) years
  • Residence Card (在留カード): Maximum five (5) years
  • Re-Entry Permit (再入国許可): Maximum five (5) years


Renewal of current resident status is possible. Renewal applications are filed at the local immigration bureau in Japan and the processing time normally takes two (2) to four (4) weeks; please allow two (2) weeks of lead time for document gathering and preparation.

Permanent Residence may be available for applicants who meet specific criteria and have stayed in Japan for a certain period. Emigra Worldwide can assist with all of these processes.


Japan requires all applicants to complete the following deregistration process upon departing the country:

  1. Submit a “Notification of moving-out” to the local ward/city office in order to de-register the residency in Japan before departure [normally from two (2) weeks before the departure].
  2. Surrender the “Resident Cards” and receive confirmation of departure by affixing the stamp on the passport from immigration inspector at the port of exit (i.e. airport) during the final departure.
  3. Submit a “Notification of end of assignment” to the immigration bureau in Japan within fourteen (14) days from the end date if you are planning to stay in Japan after the end date.

Changing employers without departing Japan is possible with the current company-sponsored resident status. It is required to submit a “Notification of change of employer” to the immigration bureau in Japan within fourteen (14) days from the date of change. Submitting the notification of moving-out to the local ward/city office and surrendering the residence card at the airport upon departure is not necessary for employees who are changing employers.

In some cases, the employer may need to change the current resident status to a different type of status to reflect the employment conditions at the new sponsor company.


Dependent approvals depend on the immigration status of the principal applicant. Where the principal applicant is in Japan with a work visa status, the following rules apply for dependents:

  • Minimum age (spouses): Legal age
  • Maximum age (children): Depend on the case
  • Unmarried partners: No (Depend on the case)
  • Same sex partners: No (Depend on the case)
  • Non-traditional dependents (e.g. parents): No
  • Work authorization granted? No. An additional part-time work permit is necessary for dependents to work in Japan. It is limited to twenty-eight (28) hours per week.

Application Materials

Application materials vary depending on the immigration category being applied for and on the specifics of the case. Emigra Worldwide will advise you in detail regarding your specific case; however, general application materials for the work visa application are noted below.

  • General application materials include passport copies, passport sized photo, current resume (C.V.), university diplomas, letter of assignment/offer letter/employment contract, corporate tax documents, annual reports, and company registration certificate (marriage certificate and birth certificate for family applications).
  • All documentation needs to be submitted in Japanese. Emigra Worldwide can assist with translation requirements.

Business Visitors

  • Name of visa granted: Visitor Visa
  • Duration of stay: Up to ninety (90) days, depending on nationality and purpose of stay.
  • Visa Waiver: Available for specific nationalities
  • General activities permitted: Activities that can be conducted under the visitor status for business purposes are limited to market surveys, business liaison, business talks, signing contracts, advertising, market research, after-sale service for machinery imported into Japan, plant visit, exhibition, attending/providing internal training program, and other business related short term visit to Japan. These activities exclude profit-making operations and paid activities.

Change of Status

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to change status from visitor visa to work/dependent visa after arrival in Japan.

Salary and Payroll

Salary and payroll requirements vary depending on the immigration category and on the specifics of the case. In Japan, there are minimum salary requirements (as same amount as other Japanese employees) in place. Additionally, payroll location may affect the immigration process. Please contact Emigra Worldwide for more details for your specific situation.


Qualification requirements will vary from case to case and will depend on the immigration category under which the application is made. However, in general, the immigration authorities do expect to see an undergraduate degree or equivalent education, majoring in the area of specialization associated with the position. Please contact Emigra Worldwide for more details.

Red Flags

In our experience, the following points are important to note at the start of the process. If any of the below situations apply to you, contact Emigra Worldwide for further detailed advice.

  • Absence of degree.
  • Absence of relevant experience.
  • Insufficient compensation.
  • Poor financial performance of host company may affect applications.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The government of Japan takes immigration non-compliance very seriously. Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation, and imprisonment.

Employee Penalties:

  • Illegal stay shall be punished with imprisonment (with or without work) for not more than three (3) years, or a fine not exceeding three (3) million yen, or both imprisonment (with or without work) and a Foreigners found to be guilty of illegal stay shall also be subject to deportation.
  • Illegal work shall be punished with imprisonment (with or without work) for not more than three (3) years, or a fine not exceeding three (3) million yen, or both imprisonment (with or without work) and a Foreigners found to be guilty of illegal work shall also be subject to deportation.
  • Unauthorized work (without a valid part-time work permit) shall be punished with imprisonment (with or without work) for not more than one (1) year, or a fine not exceeding two (2) million yen, or both imprisonment (with or without work) and a Foreigners who are sentenced to imprisonment for unauthorized work shall also be subject to deportation.

Employer Penalties:

  • Employment of an illegal/unauthorized worker shall be punished with imprisonment (with or without work) for not more than three (3) years, or a fine not exceeding three (3) million yen, or both imprisonment (with or without work) and a fine.

For more details, please contact Emigra Worldwide.

Bilateral Agreements

  • Working Holiday Scheme: This scheme facilitates cultural and educational exchange between Japan and participating countries to strengthen bilateral relationships. Applicants between eighteen (18) years and thirty (30) years of age from participating countries whose main purpose in Japan is to holiday may qualify for visas under the Working Holiday Scheme to take up short-term employment and/or enroll in a short educational course while they are on holiday in Japan. Countries that have bilateral Working Holiday Scheme agreements with Japan (as of June 2016) are: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Norway, Portugal, Poland and Slovakia. For more details, please contact Emigra Worldwide.

 The material in this document is confidential and a protected trade secret of Emigra Worldwide. In the course of delivering service to our clients and channel partners, our organization may elect to share this material in accordance with confidentiality terms of its service agreements or other contracts with said clients and partners, or in accordance with general intellectual property laws of the nation in which the material is received. All rights are reserved. The reproduction, redistribution or any other promulgation of this material, in whole or in part, without the written permission of an authorized officer of Emigra Worldwide is prohibited. All copies of this material must be returned upon request. The information contained in this document is correct as of the date of issue noted above. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and completeness throughout this document, we cannot and will not be held responsible for damage caused by errors, and/or omissions or otherwise caused by using and/or relying solely on the information contained herein. Please note that immigration regulations and requirements can change without advance notice and as such we cannot guarantee that the information contained within this document is 100% error free.