Work permits in Japan, also known as work visas, give the holder permission to enter and work in the country. Japan offers a broad range of visa categories for different types of work and long stays.

There's a wide variety of visa options available for work and long-term stays in Japan. These include highly skilled professional visas and working visas that cover roles such as professors, artists, journalists, business managers, medical professionals, technical interns, researchers and instructors, among others. Additionally, there are visas for specific skilled workers and start-up entrepreneurs.

These cover a variety of professional areas, and the type of work an expat intends to do will determine the visa they will apply for. Of particular interest to expats is the Specified Skilled Worker category, as well as the humanities specialist subcategory, which includes foreign-language teachers.

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Specified skilled worker visas in Japan

The specified skills visa is split into two categories. These visas aim to encourage foreign workers to fill employment gaps in the Japanese labour market.

Specified Skills Visa 1 (SSV1)

Expats who work in fields including agriculture, nursing care, shipbuilding, hospitality and construction can apply for this visa. The visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for a maximum of five years.

Foreigners with this visa cannot bring dependants with them. Workers who wish to stay in Japan for more than five years, or who want to bring their family with them, can apply for the Visa 2-SSV2.

Specified Skills Visa 2 (SSV2)

This visa can be renewed indefinitely, and allows holders to bring their families to Japan. At the moment, only foreigners already in Japan on the SSV1 visa and who have a high level of specialisation in their field can apply for this visa.

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Certificate of Eligibility

For most types of work visas, expats will need a job offer from a company in Japan before applying. The hiring company acts as the applicant’s sponsor and must supply them with a Certificate of Eligibility. This certificate testifies that the applicant meets the requirements for a visa. Once it has been obtained, the certificate is submitted as part of the expat's work visa application at the Japanese embassy in their home country.

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*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats are advised to contact their nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for the latest information.

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