What is a “Designated Activities Visa” in Japan? Types, and How to Use for International Students

WeXpats
2022/09/15

Have you ever heard of a “designated activities visa” (特定活動ビザ tokutei katsudou biza)? This is one of the status of residence that allows you to stay in Japan. However, there are many different types of designated activities visas, and if you do not understand their basic concepts you may lose the opportunity to use them thinking they don’t apply to yourself. 

International students with unconfirmed employment, international students who need or want to continue job-hunting after graduation, or graduates of Japanese universities/colleges who want to engage in an occupation not covered under any type of visa, can apply for a designated activities visa to work and live in Japan. Understand how useful designated activities visa works and use it according to your needs.


Table of Contents

  1. What is a “designated activities” visa?
  2. “Designated Activities Visa”, The Types and Their Periods of Stay
    1. Examples of Designated Activities Visa
    2. How to apply? Where to apply?
  3. “Designated Activities Visa” International Student for International Students 
    1. Search for a Job After Graduation「特定活動(継続就職活動)」
    2. Want to Stay Until Employment Starts in the Case when Employment is Decided Whilst Schooling or After Graduation「特定活動(就職内定者)」
    3. For Graduates from Japanese Universities & Graduate Schools「特定活動(46号))
    4. Graduates from Japanese Universities etc. that Want to Start a Business in Japan
  4. Summary

What is a “designated activities” visa?

Tokutei Katsudou Biza (「特定活動ビザ」Designated Activities Visa) is a simpler expression of the type of status of residence called Tokutei Katsudou (「特定活動」Designated or Specified Activities). Due to the increasing number of activities that foreigners are engaged in that are not included in status of residences under the current law, the Ministry of Justice has decided to grant status of residence for specific activities (designated activities). 

In simpler words, Designated Activities Visa is the “other types of status of residences” from the existing status of residences. And therefore, the types of  Designated Activities Visa is as diverse as the number of “types of specified activities designated by the Ministry of Justice”. For example,「特定活動(46号)」is named by 「特定活動 + Number」, but not all the designated activities have numbers. There’s 「特定活動(継続就職活動)」, the words in the brackets mean “Continue Job-Hunting Activities”, which is named by 「特定活動 + (Activity Details)」and does not use numbers, in this case you can easily tell what type of specific activity it covers.

Be careful not to confuse「特定活動ビザ tokutei katsudou biza」(designated activities visa) with the similarly named 「特定機能ビザ tokutei ginou biza」(specified skilled worker visa) which is totally different. 

“Designated Activities Visa”, The Types and Their Periods of Stay

There are many types of “designated activities”, which are activities specifically chosen by the Ministry of Justice to be granted status of residence. Representative examples include “housekeepers of diplomats (household chores and cleaning)”, “working holiday”, and “foreign EPA nurses & EPA care workers”. The well-known “working holiday visa” is actually a type of “designated activities visa”. 

As there are various types of status of residence, the period of stay given is also different. Status of residence and a period of stay for 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, or etc. will be granted by the Ministry of Justice. 

To help you understand the concepts, we will introduce the types of designated activities introduced as (Status of Residence [Designated Activities]) on the Immigration Services Agency of Japan’s website

Examples of Designated Activities Visa 在留資格「特定活動」

  • Amateur Athletes and Their Families

  • Families of EPA Nurses & EPA Care Workers: EPA stands for Economic Partnership Agreement (経済連携協定) 

  • EPA Nurses, EPA Care Workers, and Their Candidates

  • Medical Stay and Accompanying Companion

  • Internship, Summer Job, International Cultural Exchange: for foreign university students

  • Housekeeper

  • Long-term Residents and Their Spouses for the Purpose of Tourism, Recreation, etc.

  • Spouse of a Highly-Skilled Professional

  • Parents of Highly-Skilled Professionals or Their Spouses

  • Want to Stay Until Employment Starts in the Case when Employment is Decided Whilst Schooling or After Graduation

  • Ski Instructor

  • Specific Research or Other Similar Activities

  • Parents & Family of Those Engaged in Specific Research or Other Similar Activities

  • Specific Data Processing Activities

  • Fourth Generation Japanese Descendant (日系四世 Nikkei Yonsei)

  • Japanese University Graduate and Their Spouses, etc.

  • When a Japanese University, etc. Graduate Wants to Start a Business

  • When a Japanese University, etc. Graduate Wants to Search for a Job

How to apply for status of residence “designated activities”? And where? 

For the status of residence “designated activities”, 

  1. When applying for “Certificate of Eligibility (在留資格認定証明書)" for new entry to Japan,

  2. When residing in Japan and newly acquiring (取得 shutoku) a designated activities status of residence,

  3. When renewing (更新 koushin) the period of an existing designated activities status of residence, 

  4. When changing (変更 henkou) from a different status of residence to a designated activities status of residence, and other situations, 

depending on your situation, the application form to be submitted differs, so please check carefully. 

Moreover, as the status of residence granted depends on your activity, it is necessary to submit a document with details of your activities. We recommend that you check what documents are required for your type of designated activity on the Immigration Office’s Status of Residence (Designated Activities) page. If you need any help or have any concerns, you can contact the Information Centre for Foreign Nationals (Japanese / Easy Japanese / English). Languages supported are mainly Japanese and English, but there are also centres that have other foreign language support. 

“Designated Activities Visa” International Student for International Students 

Below, we will introduce designated activities visas that can be used by international students who have graduated from universities in Japan. 

1. Designated Activity (Continue Job-Hunting)「特定活動(継続就職活動)」that allows you to search for a job after graduation

This is a well known type of designated activities visa. Some international students in Japan think that they will have no choice but to return to their home country if they do not find a job by graduation. But that is not true. If you wish to continue looking for a job in Japan, you can change your status of residence to “designated activities (continue job-hunting)” and continue your job-hunting activities. 

【Attention Please】With several months left on their student visa (validity period of student visa), many people wonder if they can continue job-hunting while working part-time until the period expires. However, once an international student graduates, all activities under the status of residence “student (留学)” expires including the “permission to engage in other activities” for working part time. You must change your status of residence to “designated activity (continue job-hunting)” to resume job-hunting activities. 

When changing to a designated activities (continue job-hunting) visa, you will generally need the following documents: 

  • Graduation Certificate (卒業証書)

  • Results Transcript (成績証明書)

  • Recommendation Letter  (推薦状) from University

  • Documents proving that you are actively searching and applying for jobs

  • Documents proving your financial capabilities to fund your life in Japan

and etc. so plan ahead and schedule enough time to compile the documents. Regarding the issuance of a recommendation letter, consult with your school’s international student support department, the research department you belong to, or your faculty before graduation. 

In the case of graduates from technical/vocational schools, you can apply for a designated activities (continue job-hunting) visa only if their major allows them to obtain a status of residence for work - medical, education, accounting, etc. 

In the case of international students studying at a Japanese language school, you can apply for a designated activities (continue job-hunting) visa only if you have already graduated from a university or graduate school abroad and if the Japanese language school meets certain conditions. Please inquire with your school to check whether you are eligible to apply.

If you satisfy the conditions and successfully change to a designated activities (continue job-hunting) visa, you can stay for 6 months, and if you further satisfy the conditions, you can renew it and stay for another 6 months to a maximum of 1 year. In principle, you cannot work whilst under a designated activities (continue job-hunting) visa, but as in the case for international students, you can apply for permission to engage in other activities to work part-time up to 28 hours per week. 

※ The University of Tokyo, “卒業・修了時の注意・Graduation”
※ ISA, “本邦の大学等を卒業した留学生が就職活動を行う場合 (English)”

2. Want to Stay Until Employment Starts in the Case when Employment is Decided Whilst Schooling or After Graduation「特定活動(就職内定者)」

On the other hand, there may be cases of international students successfully getting a job whilst attending school, or a “Designated Activity (Continue Job-hunting)「特定活動(継続就職活動)」” visa holder whose job hunt was successful, but the actual employment period starts after the expiry of period of stay. In such a case, if certain conditions are met, the status of residence can be changed to “Designated Activity (Prospective Employee)「特定活動(就職内定者)」” which lets you stay until you are hired and your job starts. Please refer to the link below for details.

※ ISA, “大学等の在学中又は卒業後に就職先が内定し採用までの滞在をご希望のみなさまへ (English)”

3. For Graduates from Japanese Universities & Graduate Schools「特定活動(46号))

International students (Japanese university graduates) who have graduated or completed Japanese university (excluding junior college「短期大学」) or graduate school, who have excellent Japanese language proficiency (JLPT N1, or BJT 480 points and above) can apply for status of residence “Designated Activity (Notice No.46) 「特定活行(告示46号)」”. If you satisfy the conditions and successfully change to a Designated Activity (Notice No.46), you can find a job and work, but excluding adult & entertainment establishment sectors and occupations that require legal qualifications.

This status of residence was introduced in May 2019 with the purpose of expanding employment opportunities for international students. Previously, this status of residence was not granted to those that work simple jobs (service and manufacturing jobs) but this situation has changed with those on this status of residence able to work simple jobs (*). Please check whether this status of residence is suitable for you.

Activities Allowed with a Designated Activity (Notice No.46) Status of Residence

  • Site Operations & Management in Manufacturing Industry

  • Restaurant Customer Service

  • Retail Sales & Customer Service

  • Hotel & Ryokan Customer Service, Translation for Website 

  • Taxi Driver General Duties

  • Care Worker at Nursing Facilities

In any case, the conditions for your allowed activity are as follows:

  • Must apply what you learnt through study abroad in Japan

  • Must be a full-time employee

  • Must be employed at a level where remuneration is equal to or higher than a Japanese 

  • Must be a job that requires communication in Japanese

Please check if you meet the conditions before applying. 

※ *Ministry of Justice, “留学生の就職支援に係る「特定活動」(本邦大学卒業者)についてのガイドライン” (Revised February 2020, PDF)
※ Ministry of Justice, “在留資格「特定活動(告示46号)」” (PDF)

4. Graduates from Japanese Universities etc. that Want to Start a Business in Japan

A designated activity visa that international students who are thinking of starting a business in Japan can apply for within 6 months of graduating/completing Japanese university or graduate school. The target for this status of residence are outstanding international students who are going, in the future, apply for a change of status of residence to “Business Manager(経営・管理)”, which is a status of residence for establishing a corporation and running a company. International students need to show a recommendation from their educational institution, and that they have acquired the necessary capital and business office/store to be granted the status of residence. Renewal is possible for a maximum 6 month period of stay in Japan.

【Note】In the case of graduates/those who have completed education with Program for Enhancing Employment of International Students (留学生就職促進プログラム選定校), and Top Global University Project (スーパーグローバル大学創成支援事業採択校), your maximum period of stay goes up to 2 years.

By the way, foreign nationals who want to start a business in Japan but did not graduate from a Japanese university, you can still apply for a 6 months status of residence provided you satisfy certain conditions, like managing/receiving support for start-up activities in cooperation with a local government. Renwal up to 1 year’s period of stay is also possible. 

※ ISA, “本邦の大学等を卒業した留学生が起業活動を行う場合 (Japanese Only)”

Summary

A “designated activities visa (status of residence: designated activity)” is, similar to a “work visa”, a type of status of residence that is extremely diverse with many types of activities, and as a result many application targets. Among the contents introduced in this article, do refer to the coverage on designated activities visas that can be used by international students and apply if necessary after confirming that it fits your case.. 

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