By ATOM Legal Professional Corporation English speaking lawyers in Japan

Are you looking to hire foreign employees for your company in Japan? Perhaps you’re looking for employees with certain skills and talents that can be difficult to find in Japan, such as language ability, international experiences, etc. If you limit yourself to hiring foreign employees for your company that already live in Japan, you are missing out on a huge global pool of extremely skilled and experienced candidates that might be exactly who your company is looking for. 

However, hiring an employee from abroad is not easy, especially without the help of an immigration lawyer. If the employee doesn’t already have permission to live and work in Japan in the form of either Japanese citizenship or a long-term visa, you as a company must help them get here by helping them receive a visa to Japan.

Types of visas and visa requirements

As of 2019, in Japan there are 15 types of working visas (not including the working holiday visa) and one other type of visa that you can help prospective employees get. These are the Professor, Artist, Religious Activities, Journalist, Investor/Business Manager, Legal/Accounting Services, Medical Services, Researcher, Instructor, Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/Int’l Services, Intracompany Transferee, Skilled Labor, Entertainer, Specified skill worker, Technical intern training, and the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional (HSP) visas. The most common types of working visas for foreign employees working in private companies in Japan are the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/Int’l Services, Intra-company Transferee, and Skilled Labor visas. For more details on each type of visa and which industries require what, click here

Once you have determined what type of visa your foreign employee will need, you will have to make sure they satisfy the requirements. For most visas, the basic requirements for the employee are:

  • A bachelor’s degree in the intended field of work OR at least 10 years’ experience in the field
  • In the case of international services: A bachelor’s degree in any field OR at least 3 years’ experience
  • In the case of translation, interpretation, language instruction: A bachelor’s degree in any field

Certificate of Eligibility for Status of Residence

If your employee meets all of those requirements, then you can proceed to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for Status of Residence (hereafter “Certificate of Eligibility”). Both the company and the employee will need to provide certain documents: the employee must provide their graduation certificate, passport, and a 2in x 2in photograph of themselves taken within the past three months. The documents needed from your company vary greatly depending on your company’s size etc., so it’s better to contact a lawyer to confirm exactly what you need. You can also hire a lawyer to complete and submit the entire application for you as your legal representative.

After applying for a Certificate of Eligibility and receiving it, your company must send it to the employee. The employee must then visit the Japanese embassy or consulate nearest to them in their home country with the Certificate of Eligibility, their passport, their photographs, and a visa application form (located at the embassy/consulate). After handing those documents in, if the visa is successfully processed they will receive their passport with the visa. The employee must enter Japan within three months of being issued the visa.

A simplified flow of the process of issuing visas for foreign employees living abroad

Hire a foreign employee that meets all visa requirements (a degree and/or a certain number of years of work experience)


Prepare documents needed for the Certificate of Eligibility (both employee and company)


Apply for the Certificate of Eligibility (takes approximately 1-3 months to process)


Receive the Certificate of Eligibility and send it to the employee


The employee submits the Certificate of Eligibility along with other documents to their local Japanese embassy/consulate (takes approximately 5-10 days to process)


Receive the visa in the employee’s passport (employee must enter Japan within three months of issuing visa)

The entire process of issuing a visa/status of residence for a foreign employee living overseas takes place over the span of a few months. If even the smallest mistake is made in the process, whether that is a mistake in the documents or in communication, it could mean starting all over again and taking another few months.

Since you most likely want this new employee in Japan and working as soon as possible, it’s best to consult a lawyer, and possibly appoint them as your legal representative, on your employee’s specific situation. Call 03-6868-8647 for a consultation, or contact us through our online contact form.

This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice. For advice from a lawyer, please call the number listed above.

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