To work in Japan

Foreign nationals must obtain a relevant visa status to work in Japan.

If you currently obtain family-related visa status or you are a Permanent Resident, you can engage in working any types job without any special permit. However, you must obtain a particular work visa if you would like to work full-time in Japan.

To obtain work visa, your intended job/mission must fall under one particular work visa and your background/career and prospective employer (company/organization in Japan) need to satisfy the criteria and requirement of the visa status.

Also, an employment agreement/contract between you and prospective employer is required at least to certify your employment in Japan and terms and conditions for your job/mission. In case you are residing outside Japan, the prospective employer will be your proxy or so-called “visa sponsor” for your COE application in Japan. You cannot apply for the COE for any work visa if you don’t have any visa sponsor in Japan.

>> BASIC CRITERIA for Visa Status
>> Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Application


Those who are foreign nationals of the country participating Working Holiday Programmes can stay and take a holiday in Japan for maximum of one year under the visa status called “Designated Activities (for Working holidays)”. During staying in japan under the visa status, you can engage in a part time job to make up for living expenses.

To get more information and join in WORKING HOLIDAY PROGRAMMES, you should contact the Japan Embassy or Consulate-General in your country directly. You need to apply for it through the Japan Embassy or Consulate-General outside Japan.

>> WORKING HOLIDAY PROGRAMMES (jump to webpage of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)

Intending to work full-time at the company in Japan.

In order to work full-time in Japan, you should consider whether your intended job is applicable to a specific visa status first. Next, you need to check the criteria and requirement for the visa status and your background/career satisfies the basic requirement. You cannot obtain any work visa for a job not listed in work visa category.

After you find out a relevant visa status, you need to look for a company which is willing to hire you in Japan. If you find a company which is willing to hire you and to be your visa sponsor for your COE application, you will apply for the COE application through the company as your visa sponsor and proxy. You cannot apply for COE before you find a company to be your visa sponsor in Japan.

In case you are currently staying in Japan under Student visa status and looking for a job in Japan, you will need to apply for Change of Visa Status to obtain relevant work visa after finding the job.
>> Change of Visa Status

In case you obtain Student visa status, and you wish to continue to look for a job since you couldn’t find any job by graduation, you need to apply for Change of Visa Status to look for a job after graduation.
>> Job-hunting/Start Business after graduation in Japan

Wishing to work as a freelance in Japan

Some people might heard of so called “self-sponsored” visa, however, there is no such a visa status in Japan.
Most of case, people mention about it when you wish to apply for a visa status as a freelance.
Please remind the principle of visa application in Japan once – your job/mission must be listed in work visa category which allows you work in Japan. In addition, you need to satisfy the requirements for the visa status.

We should say it is difficult for non-resident in Japan to obtain a visa status to engage in working as a freelance since it requires a visa sponsor in Japan.

In case you are currently residing outside Japan but you can make a long-term contract agreement as a freelance with a company/organization in Japan, it would be possible to get approval of the COE application if the company you contract with is willing to be your visa sponsor for your COE application. It is difficult for you to sponsor yourself, so called “self-sponsored” visa application, especially when it comes to the COE application which basically requires a “visa sponsor in Japan”.

In case you are currently residing in Japan under a specific work visa and you would like to continue to engage in the same type of job/mission in Japan as a self-sponsored freelance, it would be possible to keep working under the same visa status and renewing it depending on your situation. It depends on terms and condition of the contract(s) – type of job/work, the period of contract, work place and fees for the job.

In each case, it is based on the premise that your freelance activities in Japan and your background/career must meet the requirements for the visa status. Also, your contract(s) with company/companies in Japan must basically satisfy the following;
– number of contract: one at least.
– term: one year at least.
– fees: 200,000yen monthly on average or more in total, stably.
– place of work: in Japan.
– type of job/mission: job/mission allowed under the visa status.


  • In case that an English teacher at the English language school holding Engineer/Humanities visa status intends to engage in freelance activities as a translator/interpreter and an English language teacher.
  • In case that a data analyst holding Engineer/Humanities visa status will become a freelance contracting several companies.

If your freelance work has been performed mainly outside Japan without reasonable grounds, the immigration office would deny your renewal application depending on the case.

Once you become a freelance, you are responsible to do the tax return and to submit relevant notifications/reports to the tax offices. We would recommend to consult tax specialists or tax offices directly to know more about the detail of taxes in advance if you are considering to be a freelance.

To obtain a permission to engage in other activity allowed under your current visa status

If your current visa status allows to obtain a permission called “Shikakugai-katsudo Kyoka”, you can engage in a part-time job within the limit of the permit.
>> Permission to Engage in Other Activity

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