Applying for a Japanese Working Visa

April 12, 2019

So, I’ve finally had the chance to pursue (2!) of my dreams. At the end of May, I will be moving to Japan to work for a new company, working on some interesting projects & technologies. It’s been a (somewhat) complicated process so far, and while there is a fair amount of information available online, I couldn’t find a simple, detailed write-up regarding the entire process. So here we are. Below I document the entire process from accepting an offer to being ready to fly out.

Disclaimer: I am from the UK. My experience is representative of the process in the UK only. Other countries may differ.

Now, to work in Japan as a foreigner you must obtain a Working Visa from the Japanese Government. This is essentially an id card that you can show to prove your have the right to be in, and work in the country. You can find information about it here: A Working Visa requires a Certificate of Eligibility. This is something that is issued in Japan to an organisation that is willing to sponsor you. More information can be found here:

Step 1. Certificate of Eligibility

This is where I begin. So, I received my offer, and I gladly accepted it. From this point, your new employer (referred to as sponsor from this point onwards) will/should ask you for a series of information on you. This is required to submit to the Japanese government in order to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility.

I was asked for some basic info:

  • marital status,
  • current address
  • Whether I’ve visited Japan before, as well as how many times
  • My criminal & deportation record

In addition the following documents were required:

  • A copy of my passport ID page + any pages with immigration stamps
  • My Batchelor’s Degree Certificate of Graduation
  • My Batchelor’s Degree Academic Transcript (i.e. what modules I took, and my results). I had to ask my university for a copy; I was never provided one on graduation.
  • A passport sized photo (3cm x 4cm)

After providing this documentation, there was little visibility of the process, beyond updates from my sponsor on their submission, and the expect time to process. This is until they receive a confirmation (or denial I suppose) of their submission for my Certificate of Eligibility. After my sponsor received the certificate, they shipped it straight over to me, and the second part of the process could begin.

Certificate of eligibility

Step 2. Visa Documentation

Now that I had my Certificate of Eligibility, I could go to the embassy and apply for my Visa. There is more documentation required to submit along with the Certificate. The list is below, but can also be found here:

  • Passport (original, not a copy)
  • A completed Visa Application form (discussed below)
  • A passport size photo
  • Original Certificate of Eligibility
  • A photocopy of your Certificate of Eligibility

Before continuing, I had to contact the embassy as I had questions regarding the Application Form mentioned above. The form is (or at least appears to be) a generic form that applies to all Visa requests; not specific to a Working Visa. As had uncertainty as to what or who would be my guarantor or inviter in the specified sections. A quick call with a helpful embassy staff member stated that I could either specify a contact from my sponsor (if I had a specific contact), or the sponsor themselves.

Besides that, the form is quite straightforward, and lots of it is optional. Just be sure to fill it out accurately, and as completely as possible.

With the form complete, it was time to head to the Japanese Embassy in London with everything they asked for.

Step 3. Submission at the Japanese Embassy

So there are 2 visits required (assuming everything goes smoothly). The first is for the submission of the documentation listed above. For me it was quite a pleasant, yet short experience. The building itself is lovely. Its very clean and well kept; and security was high, but they were very polite.

A pass through security on the way into the embassy, followed by a ticket system that was reminiscent of those deli-counter tickets you get at some supermarkets. I sat in the waiting area until the number on my ticket was called up. I was directed to a booth where I passed the documentation over to the embassy staff member; who quickly validated that there was nothing missing. I got some sort of receipt you must keep so I can get my passport back once my application is processed. They gave away nothing about the process itself; very polite and very efficient.

That was that! (for now at least). I have to go back for the results, and to collect my passport in a few days.

A few days later…

3 days later (that sounds like a great turnaround time to me!) I was back at the embassy with the receipt to get my passport back. Same process as before; get your ticket and wait your turn. Submit the receipt and visa fee (20GBP in my case, and cash only) and I got my passport back along with my Certificate of Eligibility. Assuming your application was successful, you’ll find a new page has been stamped in your passport with your visa information, like I did.

Closing notes

And that’s that! I now have an approved visa to work in Japan, so I can go ahead and book my flights in comfort while emptying my life of my remaining material goods. This was a very positive experience for me. The embassy was very professional, helpful and efficient.

I did have concern about what the process entailed as I was going through it, but it turns out my worries were unfounded. Hence why this post exists; for anyone else like me who doesn’t know what to expect.