Introducing the Different Types of Japan Work Visas

The first step to starting your career in Japan is not just getting a job but also permission to work in Japan in the form of a work visa or work permit. In this article, we introduce to you the types of work visas in Japan, the eligible occupations for each of them, and the available visa duration.

Table of Contents

  1. All Japan Work Visa Types
  2. Permission to Work for Non-Work Visas
  3. Difference Between Visa and Status of Residence
  4. Summary 

All Japan Work Visa Types

Japan offers over 30 types of visas, 19 of which belong to the category of work visa. In order to work in Japan, you will need a work visa that matches your field of employment and job scope. Below, we will introduce the 19 types of work visas, the eligible occupations, and available visa duration.

Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services(技術・人文知識・国際業務 Gijutsu・Jinbun Chishiki・Kokusai Gyoumu)

The most common type of work visa used in Japan. At the end of 2021, there were 274,740 holders of this visa in Japan according to the Immigration Service Agency’s annual statistics on the number of foreign residents in Japan. It is also the 4th most held residence status behind permanent residents, special permanent residents, and technical interns. 

Eligible Occupations:
Engineer (including IT & software engineers), Designer, Writer, Translator, Interpreter, Mass Communication Job, Foreign Language Teacher (Eikaiwa, Foreign Language Schools), etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

※ ISA, “令和3年末現在における在留外国人数について

Highly Skilled Professional(高度専門職 Koudo Senmonshoku)

Started in May 2012, the Highly Skilled Professionals visa was introduced to draw talent into the country. It is a point-based system with points awarded based on numerous factors including educational & academic background, research achievements, annual income, Japanese language ability, awards, and more. The greatest benefit of the Highly Skilled Professional visa is the fast track to getting permanent resident status - from 10 years to 3 years or 1 years depending on your points. 

Available Duration:
1st Type: 5 years
2nd Type: Indefinite

Business Manager (経営・管理 Keiei・Kanri)

For foreign nationals who are interested in doing business in Japan, this visa allows those eligible to be involved in business operations in Japan or even to set-up a business. However, it is quite difficult to satisfy the many criteria for this visa.

Eligible Occupations:
CEO,  Company President, Company Director, Manager, etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 4 months, 3 months

Intra-Company Transfer(企業内転勤 Kigyounai Tenkin)

This visa is specifically for transferring employee(s) to a Japanese branch company. As such, it encompasses a wide range of occupations. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Journalism(報道 Houdou)

This visa is for journalists and relevant news-related personnel who have been dispatched by a foreign news corporation. 

Eligible Occupations: 
Newspaper journalist, magazine journalist, news cameraman, newscaster, news photographer, etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Legal / Accounting Services

For legally qualified practitioners of law and accounting work

Eligible Occupations: 
Lawyer, judicial / administrative scrivener, public / tax / certified accountant, etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Professor(教授 Kyouju)

This visa is aimed at learned professors that will be taking up positions at universities. The ultimate goal is to improve academic research and performance.

Eligible Occupations:
University Professor, Lecturers, Assistant Professor, etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Education(教育 Kyouiku )

Not to be confused with “Professor” above, or Foreign Language Teacher in “Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services” above, this visa is for teachers in non-tertiary education. 

Eligible Occupations:
Teachers (including foreign language teachers) at elementary school, junior high school, high school, international school, special needs school, etc.  

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Researcher(研究 Kenkyuu)

This visa is for foreign nationals coming to Japan to conduct research for remuneration. 

Eligible Occupations: 
Researcher at research facilities, government organizations, companies, etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Medical(医療 Iryou)

This visa is applicable only to medical specialists with the relevant medical qualification.

Eligible Occupations: 
Medical doctor, surgeon, physiotherapist, psychologist, dentist, nurse, etc.

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Nursing Care(介護 Kaigo)

Not to be confused with “nurse” in “Medical” above, this visa is relatively new having been introduced in 2016 and impletemented in 2017 to address the growing need for care workers in Japan.

Eligible for Certified Care Workers only.

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

※ MOJ, “平成28年入管法改正について

Art(芸術 Geijutsu)

This visa is targeted at people whose work involves creating works of art. 

Eligible Occupations: 
Photographer, composer, artist, sculptor, lyricist, etc. 

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Entertainment(興行 Kougyou)

Not to be confused with “Artist” above, these occupations are more performance-based like acting and modeling. The available duration is shorter than other types of visas with a maximum of 3 years and the shortest duration of 15 days. This visa is commonly used by singers on world tours, models here for fashion week, athletes to compete in a sports match, actors for film or drama shooting, etc. 

Eligible Occupations: 
Dancer, singer, actor, model, musician, athlete, etc. 

Available Duration:
3 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, 15 days

Religious Activities(宗教 Shuukyou)

For accepting religious workers coming to Japan to work in religious facilities like missionaries at churches, temples, shrines, etc. 

Eligible Occupations: 
Missionaries, monks, priests, bishops, etc.

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Diplomacy(外交 Gaikou)

This visa is specifically for diplomats on official diplomatic or consular missions on behalf of their countries and other important people who enjoy the same privileges as diplomats do. Diplomats enjoy special privileges like diplomatic immunity. You may have noticed cars with blue license plates; these are diplomat vehicles.

Eligible Occupations: 
Diplomat, Consulate Member, Head of State, Minister, etc. and their family members

Available Duration:
Length of mission

Official / Government Business(公用 Kouyou)

Easily confused with “Diplomacy” visa, this type of visa is more for support staff. 

Eligible Occupations:
Diplomat Accompanying Staff, Embassy Staff, Consulate Staff, International Organization Japan Office Staff, etc. and their family members

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months, 30 days, 15 days

Skilled Labour(技能 Ginou)

This visa is for skilled workers from foreign countries. Applicable skills should be unique to the country or difficult to obtain in Japan.

Eligible Occupations: 

Foreign cuisine chef, pilot, craftsman, foreign product technician/repairman, foreign design architecture / civil engineer, sommelier, animal trainer, sports trainer, etc.

Available Duration:
5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 months

Specified Skilled Worker(特定技能 Tokutei Ginou)

Starting April 2019, the Specified Skilled Worker visa was introduced to help certain industries in Japan which are experiencing severe labour shortages. Becoming a Specified Skilled Worker in Japan requires basic Japanese language skills and technical knowhow in the applicable industry. 

Eligible Industries:
Nursing Care, Building Cleaning, Material Processing, Industrial Machinery Manufacturing, Electric & Electronic, Construction, Ship-related, Automobile Maintenance & Repair, Aviation, Accommodation, Agriculture, Fishery, F&B Manufacturing, Food Service

Available Duration:
- 1st Type: 1 year, 6 months, 4 months
- 2nd Type: 3 years, 1 year, 6 months

Technical Intern Training(技能実習 Ginou Jishuu)

This visa is specifically for interns enrolled in Japan’s Technical Intern Training Programme. The programme functions to teach participants from developing countries technical knowledge and skills from Japanese corporations and bring such knowledge and skills back home to help build a better future for their home countries. In return, Japan gains access to valuable labour forces and builds better international relations. 

Eligible for Technical Interns enrolled in the Programme only.

Available Duration:
1 year, 6 months, period less than 1 year

Permission to Work for Non-Work Visas

Just because you’re not on a work visa doesn’t mean you’re absolutely forbidden to work. These are the other types of visa that if you have the right permission (you may have to fill out a separate application for it), you are allowed to work.

  • International Student 留学生 (with working hours limit)

  • Dependent / Family Stay 家族滞在 (with working hours limit)

  • Spouse or Child of Japanese National 日本人の配偶者等 

  • Spouse of Permanent Resident 永住者の配偶者 

  • Long-Term Resident 定住者

  • Designated Activities 特定活動 (depends on activity, for example working holiday)

Is a Visa the same as a Status of Residence? 

Without realizing, we often refer to our status of residence as our visa. For example:

A: "What type of visa do you have? "

B:"Engineering, Humanities and International Services . You?" 

A:"I’m on a student visa." 

But are they really one and the same?
The answer is no. 

Visa (ビザ Biza)

Image Credit: © Embassy of Japan in Vietnam

Visa is a document showing you have permission to enter the country for specific reasons. A visa is usually printed inside a passport. You will only need your visa when passing immigration at the airport when entering Japan, thereafter you will no longer need it once in the country. Visa is issued by the Japanese Embassies (under Consular Services) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Status of Residence (在留資格 Zairyuu Shikaku)

Literally as it says, a status of residence is your status / qualification as a resident in Japan. Proof of your status of residence comes in the form of a Residence Card (在留カード Zairyuu Kaado) that you will receive at airport immigration after showing a valid visa. Thereafter, you are required to carry it with you at all times. Finally, Status of Residence (Residence Card) is issued by the Immigration Services Agency under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice.


  • Not carrying your Residence Card with you is punishable by a fine of up to 200,000 yen. 

  • Not showing your Residence Card upon request by a police officer, immigration officer or other official is punishable by a fine of up to 200,000 yen or up to 1 year imprisonment.

※ ISA, “Answer (Q1 ~ Q77), Q.34


One way to start your career in Japan is to get a job that offers visa sponsorship. Depending on your job offer (what industry and your job scope), you will receive one of many work visas listed above. Luckily, you have this article to help you navigate through them. 

Visa information in this article is taken from official sources including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Services Agency of Japan. If unclear, kindly check the relevant websites.

WeXpats Guide is available in 10 other languages - we have articles about work in Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, and more. We do not have French (yet) but you can read about Work in Japan in French at Apprendrelejaponais.net, a website for French-speakers to learn Japanese.


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