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Difficulties in Obtaining Work Visa in Japan

Transforming the Workplace

Difficulties in Obtaining Work Visa in Japan (#5 of 6 part series)

Highly skilled international workers who speak Japanese are now highly sought after and viewed as prized assets. But aside from technicians, interpreters, and language teachers, it can be very hard to acquire a working visa. This is despite the fact that companies such as Daiken are planning to increase the number of overseas employees on their books and are looking abroad to expand their business.

There are a number of issues surrounding Japanese work visas. Graduates from universities and Japanese language schools are classed in the mid-skill workers bracket, meaning that they cannot acquire visas. In many cases, it seems that individuals in this category eventually abandon the hope of finding employment in Japan.

Reports have come to light that show the difficulties of getting a work visa for those engaged in the nursing profession. One Fukuoka-based Korean individual who was working as a nurse applied for a work visa multiple times, but was only able to complete the process after passing the highest level of Japanese proficiency for non-Japanese people, and in doing so proved to the authorities to have developed the ability to work as an interpreter.

There is an increasing number of voices calling for visa requirement laws to be deregulated and for the residence status to be issued to people entering Japan with greater ease. In November 2015, Aichi Prefecture, an area that has seen a rise in the manufacturing industry, asked the government to recognize them as a special employment zone for international workers. The proposal also requested for greater scope in awarding work visas, so that small and medium-sized enterprises could hire international employees who are ranked in the third category or above of the technical skills test and have a high level of Japanese language ability.

The seven prefectures in Kyushu, along with Okinawa and Yamaguchi, joined forces with the business community last year to launch a team to investigate how to best utilize the currently available wealth of international talent. In terms of recruiting workers from abroad, it seems that small and medium-sized enterprises are subject to greater scrutiny and have to submit more documents than larger companies. These kinds of practical issues can become obstacles for both employers and their potential employees. One fairly straightforward suggestion is to simplify the documents that need to be submitted as part of the work visa application process. Another challenge for accepting international workers into Japan, which needs to be overcome, is a form of national isolationism that can be said to still exist in some areas.

Original article from Nishinippon Shimbun (4/11/2017).

New Era of Immigration in Kyushu
The number of workers from abroad, including international students and technical interns in Japan, exceeded one million for the first time last year. This group of people form an indispensable component of the workforce, irrespective of the government’s position on immigration. Read more installments from this series here.

Fukuoka Prefecture
Published: Oct 2, 2017 / Last Updated: Oct 2, 2017