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Spotlight on APAC Series: Japan

In our Spotlight on APAC series we round up the latest developments from the Asia Pacific region.  In this post we follow on from our note on Long Term options for transfer to Japan and here we look at short term transfer options.


Short-term transfers – Japan

When is a short term visa required and how are they obtained?  

Foreign nationals who are not eligible for the visa waiver programme for Japan and who are travelling for a short period and for temporary activities, will be required to obtain a short-term visa under the ‘temporary visitor’ residential status.

 A short-term visa may be obtained by filing an application with the relevant Japanese embassy or the consulate general of Japan with jurisdiction over the applicant’s  legal place of residence or origin.


The main restrictions on a business visitor?

In principle, Business Visitors may stay in Japan for a duration of 15, 30 or 90 days, to be determined by the Immigration Officer at port of entry in Japan.  Exceptions apply with respect to foreign nationals from Mexico, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein and England and they may apply to extend the duration up to six months in total.

The  permitted activities that Business Visitors may perform during a short period of stay in Japan are limited to inspection tours, participating in lectures or meetings, making business contacts, or conducting other similar activities.   Permitted activities can be a grey area in practice as list are not exhaustive but generally operating business involving income or activities for which the foreign national receives compensation are not permitted.


Can short term training be undertaken and what immigration permission is required?

There are certain residence statuses in Japan under which a foreign national may receive training, dependent on the content of the training itself:

  • The ‘technical intern training’ residential status applies to anyone undergoing training that falls under the definition of technical intern training, as defined under article 2 of the Act on Proper Technical Intern Training and the Protection of Technical Intern Trainees).
  • The ‘trainee’ residential status applies to anyone undergoing training that is described as non-practical and lasts for over 90 days.
  • The ‘temporary visitor’ residential status applies to anyone undergoing training that is described as non-practical and lasts for 90 days or less.
  • A residential status that permits foreign nationals to work is necessary for all practical training, regardless of the duration of the training.

As a guide, practical training is training that allows foreign nationals to learn and acquire skills, techniques or knowledge by engaging in business activities to manufacture or sell products, or provide services in return for compensation (Ministerial Ordinance defining the criteria for article 7, paragraph 1, item 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the Immigration Control Act)).

Non-practical training is any training other than practical training. Whether training falls under practical training will be determined based on the nature of the activities performed by the foreign national and whether they constitute part of the company’s manufacturing of products or paid service.

As an alternative, it may be possible for foreign nationals to provide short-term training under the ‘temporary visitor’ residential status when it forms part of the parent company’s business and the foreign national provides non-practical training to the Japanese subsidiary without receiving compensation for such training, in an aim to provide know-how.


Can you transit through Japan and what permission is needed?

In order to land temporarily in Japan and for the transit waiting time before departing to other countries, foreign nationals who do benefit from the visa waiver scheme, must obtain a short term visa under the ‘temporary visitor’ residence status.  The visa should be applied for in advance at the relevant Japanese Embassy.


Visa Waiver programmes

Visa Waiver is available to foreign citizens of the countries or areas that are eligible for the visa waiver programme. In addition, holders of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) may enter other participating APEC countries with their passport and an ABTC (without a visa) only, and enjoy the privilege of express immigration processing upon arrival and departure through premier lanes.


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