Who needs a visa?

In general, all nationals require visas to enter Japan, although exceptions do apply.  There are in excess of 100 Visa and Work Authorisation categories.

Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further advice.

Business Visa

Generally, a Temporary Visitor Visa is issued to visitors travelling to Japan for a short-term trip to conduct business activities, including attending business meetings, discussions or conferences. Certain exemptions apply to nationals of countries with reciprocal agreements, and nationals of certain countries (such as China) require additional documentation.

Types of Visa

Depending on the applicant’s nationality, visa options include such categories as Temporary Visitor Visa, Working Visa, Working Holiday Visa, Volunteer Visa, Spouse or Child of Japanese National Visa and Student, Trainee, Dependant, Cultural Activities and Medical Stay Visas.

Application Process

All applications will need to be submitted in the applicant’s country of residence. Quite often the applicant will need either to submit the application in person, or collect his/her passport, with the issued visa, in person.

Processing time

Processing times for visa applications tend to vary and change without notice.  Applications for a Business Visa submitted in the UK generally take 6 working days to process.


The validity period of most Temporary Visitor Visas, range from 15 to 90 days. The permitted length of stay as a business visitor for visa-exempt nationals depends upon their country of origin and ranges from 30 to 180 days.

Work Authorisation

Due to the large number of work authorisation categories, the following information provides details of a favoured category.

Type of Visa

In order to work in Japan, Work Authorisation will need to be obtained, and the applicant will need to apply for a work visa. There are a number of different work visa types available, ranging from Intra-Company Transfer to Investor.  There are also certain exemptions that apply.

Application Process

Depending on the type of Work Visa, the application process will vary. For example, for an Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa, the Japanese entity which will sponsor the migrant must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from a relevant regional immigration bureau.

The process will normally follow the below stages:

  • Application for, and provision, of a Certificate of Eligibility.
  • Application submitted for a Work Visa and Dependant Visa (if necessary) in the applicant’s country of residence.
  • After arrival in Japan, application for an Alien Registration Card and Re-Entry Permit.

Processing time

Processing times for work visa applications tend to vary and change without notice. In general, the process takes from 4 to 6 weeks, for the employee to be able to work in Japan.


Under Japanese immigration laws, an employer is generally allowed to employ overseas workers for a period of between 3 months and 5 years.


The immigration status of a dependant is reliant on the type of permit and the status of the foreign worker.  However, they will require work authorisation in their own right.  This is known as an “additional Part-Time Work Permit”.

Such permits often limit the number of hours that the dependant can work.

Penalties for Non Compliance


If the employer breaches the immigration rules the Japanese Government may:

  • Fine the employer up to JPY 3 million; and
  • Imprison staff working for the employer for up to 3 years.


If the foreign worker breaches the immigration rules their visas may be cancelled, and they will be required to leave Japan. In more serious circumstances they may be deported from Japan and barred from re-entry for up to 10 years.

 Points to Note

 The employee must meet the minimum salary required in Japanese Yen per annum.

  • Nationals of certain countries may require a Police Clearance Certificate.
  • The employee must have adequate qualifications and experience for the position.
  • The status and financial standing of the company in Japan is likely to affect the application.


The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.