Meilin International Law Firm

Acquisition of Status of Residence

img_artport.jpg Foreign nationals who wish to work in Japan must acquire status of residence. The types of status of residence depend on the type of profession or occupational activity in which the foreign national wishes to engage.

The types of status of residence in order to work in Japan are as follows:

  1. Business Manager

    Managers or administrators of enterprises or other entities

  2. Engineers, Specialists in Humanities/International Services

    Engineers in mechanical engineering or other fields, interpreters, designers, language teachers in private companies, employees engaging in marketing, etc.

  3. Intra-company Transferee

    Employees of foreign businesses transferred to Japan

  4. Skilled Laborers

    Chefs or patisseries of foreign cuisines, sports instructors or trainers, pilots, craftsmen of jewelry or metal, etc.

  5. Highly skilled professionals

    Highly skilled professionals under Japan's points-based preferential immigration treatment system, professionals engaging in academic research, instruction or education, etc.

Fukuoka City has been approved to implement the “Startup Visa” to incentivize foreigners to start a business in Fukuoka. The “Startup Visa” system permits a foreigner to receive a six-month “Business Manager” visa prior to fulfilling the requirements stated in 3 below, provided however, a New Business Implementation Plan must be submitted to Fukuoka City.

"Short-stay visa" with a ninety (90) day stay period is newly available to Chinese nationals through simple procedures, provided however, activities related to management of business generating an income or receiving a reward is not allowed under this visa.

Procedures for Acquisition

Foreign nationals must follow procedures (1) or (2) below to acquire a status of residence:

Foreign nationals who reside in Japan or have a legal representative (host institution staff, relative, or attorney) in Japan
  1. Foreign national should apply for a "Certificate of Eligibility" at the Immigration Bureau of Japan. The requirements, procedures and documents necessary for a “Certificate of Eligibility” vary depending on the type of status of residence the foreign national wishes to acquire.
    It will take one (1) ~ three (3) months from submission of an application to issuance of the  certificate.
    The Immigration Bureau of Japan will send the "Certificate of Eligibility" to the foreign national residing in Japan or the legal representative in Japan who will pass on the certificate to the foreign national abroad.
  2. Foreign national should submit a "Certificate of Eligibility" to an overseas Japanese Embassy in the country where the foreign national resides, applies for a visa, and has it issued.
    A foreign national having a status of residence for a short stay may conduct the procedures in Japan. The screening will take five (5) business days.
  3. Foreign national must in principle enter Japan within three (3) months from the issuance of the "Certificate of Eligibility". Foreign national presents passport and visa at the port of entry, submits the "Certificate of Eligibility" and goes through an immigration examination. Except for special circumstances, landing will be permitted under the status of residence stipulated on the visa.
    Foreign national receives a seal of verification of landing on passport and will have a residence card issued.
Residence Card:
A card issued to a foreign national who stays in Japan for a mid- to long term. Name, date of birth, nationality, address in Japan, status of residence, and period of stay are stated with a photograph of the foreign national on the card. Card holder must report any changes in the information on the card.
Foreign national who does not reside in Japan and has no legal representative (e.g., relative) in Japan
  1. Foreign national should not apply for a "Certificate of Eligibility", but must directly apply for issuance of a visa to the Japanese Embassy in the country of residence. The screening will take a fairly long time.
  2. After issuance of a visa, the foreign national enters Japan and goes through the immigration examination.

Acquisition of “Certificate of Eligibility” for “Business Management”

In order to incorporate a Japanese company in Japan and acquire a Certificate of Eligibility for “Business Management”, a foreign national must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. The place of business must be located in Japan.
    (If the foreign national rents a place of business under a lease contract, the lessee must be the incorporated company; a virtual office is not allowed, but an incubation office is allowed.)
  2. The size of the business must satisfy one of the following requirements:
    a) At least two (2) full-time staff members residing in Japan;
    b) Capital or investment of at least five (5) million yen; or
    c) A business size equivalent to the above requirements a) and b).
  3. Foreign national must have experience in the business management or administration of at least three (3) years and receive compensation equivalent to or greater than that for Japanese.
  • The law for "Business Management Visas" was revised on April 1, 2015, and requirements to obtain visas have become more favorable in comparison to previous "Investment/Business Management Visas".
    There are five different kinds of period of stay: five (5) years, three (3) years, one (1) year, four (4) months or three (3) months, of which four (4) months is newly established. This is intended for foreign nationals abroad who wish to incorporate a company in Japan.
  • Previously, Japanese authorities issued an “Investment/Business Management Visa” only after registration of incorporation was completed. Under the new system, "Business Management Visa" will be granted before registration of incorporation if the foreign national has prepared documents (such as articles of incorporation) which clearly show an intention to start business.
    (In practice, however, a long-term visa of one (1) year or longer will not be granted before incorporation of a company.)
  • Foreign national who has acquired a four (4)-month visa is able to acquire a residence card and open a bank account by presenting the card. (A residence card will not be issued for a period of stay less than three (3) months.)
  • Under the new system of four-month visas, a foreign national can theoretically conclude a lease contract for business. In practice, however, lessors rarely make a lease contract with a foreign national who has a status of residence of four (4)-months. Such a foreign national must make a lease contract with the help of collaborators residing in Japan.
    Therefore, a foreign national generally aims to acquire a one (1) year visa after registration of incorporation.
  • Some real estate agencies offer share houses or special arrangements for entrepreneurs from abroad. Foreign nationals who intend to conduct business in Japan are advised to find out these services in the area they desire to start business.
  • The “Startup Visa” system in Fukuoka permits a foreigner to receive a six-month “Business Manager” visa prior to fulfilling the above stated requirements, provided however, they must submit a New Business Implementation Plan to Fukuoka City. If approved, the foreigner will have six-months to fulfill the standard requirements and complete procedures while developing business. Fukuoka City provides individual support to foreigners to meet these requirements so that they may be able to renew the Business Manager visa.
  • Even when two (2) or more foreign nationals jointly conduct business management, the Japanese authorities will not automatically grant Business Management Visas to all of them. They will be admitted by Japanese authorities based on reasonable grounds for conduct of business management/administration by multiple foreign nationals, based on business size, amount of work, sales amount, officers’ compensation, etc.