How to Apply for a Japanese Working Visa

Congratulations! So you’ve got a job offer with a Japanese company, and now you need to get your visa to come to Japan and begin the next chapter in your journey. But what does the process involve? Truth be told, it can be somewhat overwhelming without some guidance. Details regarding how to properly proceed can vary depending on your nationality, and the company offering you the job, among other things. Since each application should be prepared on a case-by-case basis, SJIP participants can rely on us to help them through the specifics of the process. Generally speaking, though, here is how a typical application should proceed:

Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility

One of the first documents that will need to be prepared for your application is actually provided by the Immigration Bureau of Japan. If you are a participant in one of our programs, after requesting some basic information from you, we and your host company will take care of the hard part for applying for the CoE. For those who are not participants, the process will vary depending on the entity which is inviting you to Japan.

An example from the Immigration Bureau of an acceptable photo.

One required item will be a passport-style photo. See the Immigration Bureau’s instructions for how to format the photo. To save time, prepare two or more copies so that you can use another for the actual visa application, detailed below.

Prepare Documents for Visa Application

As the visa forms found online are very similar, if you are filling the form yourself, please make sure that you are using the proper form specific to your situation.

Once the inviting company receives your CoE from the Immigration Bureau, it will be sent to you along with any other documents required to file with your finalized visa application. The exact requirements will vary from location to location, and you can confirm the details through the website for the particular embassy or consulate which is assigned to your region. In most cases, you will be filling out a form which appears similar to the one pictured here. If you are participating in our program, we will usually provide you with a partially-filled form to help ensure that the information is filled out correctly. Sample forms are also often available from the webpage of the main embassy in your country. (Please also note, a common mistake made by applicants is that they will print, staple, or tape their photo to the form. The only acceptable way to submit your photo is by gluing a picture on photo paper to the form.)

In most cases, for a working visa, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Visa application form, properly signed
  • Passport
  • Photograph (passport-style; adhered to the application form)
  • Original Certificate of Eligibility and one photocopy

Requirements may also vary depending on the category of work, so again, please refer to our individual guidance and your respective embassy or consulate for official requirements.

Once the documents are prepared is usually the best time to begin finalizing the details of your flights and other accommodations. Please plan for 5–7 business days for processing your application after the respective authority receives your documents. If you do not allow for enough time to receive your documents, you may end up having to reschedule your flight if you encounter any delays during the process. SJIP applicants are always welcome to consult us for individual guidance on how to plan for entry into Japan, but please note that we are unfortunately unable to offer any guarantees or insure against flight changes as the process is wholly dependent on the operation of the Japanese government.

Apply in Person, via Mail, or With an Agent

Once you have all the files properly compiled, it’s time to submit your application! In most cases, if you are near your embassy or consulate, you will need to apply in-person.

In cases where it is difficult to visit the physical location (such as in the US, where one consulate can be assigned to multiple, large states), you may be able to mail in your application after including a release waiver. Your local consulate or embassy will have instructions on how to do so should this be an option for you. Typically a self-addressed, stamped envelope is also required for the return of your passport.

In some nations, including India and China, applicants may need to process their forms through an approved visa agent. Your respective embassy or consulate will have the applicable information on how to properly proceed.

Again, at this point in the process, please allow about 5–7 business days for your passport to be processed with your application before departing for Japan.

Receive Your Passport and Visa

After you submit your application — and pending approval — your passport will be returned with a brand new visa inside and with your CoE attached! Please leave the CoE attached to the passport, as the immigration authority will need this upon your entry to Japan. Now you’re ready to make your trip to Japan!

Come to Japan!

Although you should only need your passport, we recommend also bringing extra copies of the documents you’ve submitted in case the immigration authority has any specific questions upon your arrival. You will also need to fill out customs forms which will be provided to you on the plane. While your entry permission is being processed, you will be provided with a residence card. This will need to be registered at the city/ward hall with jurisdiction over where you will be staying in Japan. Once you’re in Japan and have your card registered, you are now officially a resident!

A sample residence card from the Immigration Bureau. The reverse side of this sample card has a residency address printed on the back, indicating that it has been registered with the respective city/ward hall after the card-holder’s arrival in Japan.

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