There are different types of visas for different occupations, and you need the right one to work in Japan. Applying for a visa is halfway to the end of the employment procedure. Here is the basic groundwork that all engineers must know for applying for a visa to Japan. 

Importance of the right type of visa  

There has been an increase in engineering jobs in Japan in past years, and it is expected to grow even more as the country enters a new stage in industry innovation. This attracts possible workers, not only from the country but from other countries as well. Applying for an engineering position in Japan could be profitable in the long run, but what are the necessary things to ensure before pursuing it?

First is the visa application. A visa is a document that serves as a pass for an individual to enter another country. There is a specific visa for engineers in Japan. It is provided to licensed and experienced foreign engineers who intend to practice their profession in the country. An engineering visa is issued to civil, development, mechanical, software, and other types of engineers and workers with job titles related to engineering.

Things you need to prepare to apply for an engineering visa 

The documents needed for the engineering visa application will be used to support the whole application. Documents that would support your academic, background, and working experience are important because this would allow the Japanese immigration office to designate the appropriate visa. Meanwhile, the applicant should have at least fulfilled the preliminary requirements of the engineering visa application: 

1. Have a bachelor’s degree relevant to the field or;

2. Acquired 10 years of working experience relevant to the field

Here are the documents needed to get an engineering visa: 

1. Valid passport

2. Visa Application Form

3. 2x2 photograph

4. Certificate of Eligibility, original and photocopy 

We discuss the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in the next section, actually applying for the engineering visa. You can apply for a visa without the COE (you will need one eventually, but this is in the case you don’t have it by the time you apply for the visa); however, it requires additional documents and will take much longer.

Here are the additional documents required if applying without a COE

1. Documents of the hosting company (registration, financial report and business activities report)

2. Applicant’s background (academic and curriculum vitae)

3. Copy of a work contract with the applicant

*each document should have a photocopy as well

※ Embassy of Japan in United States of America, Visiting Japan/Visa, "Work (Engineer)"

Applying for the engineering visa in Japan 

To apply for an engineering visa, the documents mentioned above are the prerequisites of the whole procedure. The next documents that would be needed are the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and the Status of Residence (SOR).

COE is a document that authorizes the eligibility, not only of the employee but also of the employer, to conduct business within the territory of Japan. In this case, the kinds of industries covered by an engineering visa include the following:

  • Engineering

  • Sciences

  • Technology

Also, it is a requirement for the approval of the visa itself, meaning to say that without the COE, employment would not be possible at all. The compliance is done jointly by both parties. Employees are tasked to submit qualification documents to the employer.

Meanwhile, the employer’s responsibility is to obtain the COE from the regional immigration office with the corporate documentation that proves the legality of the business. Upon securing the COE, the visa may now be granted to the employee which will allow him or her to enter Japan.

Upon arrival, the visa will be exchanged with the Status of Residence (SOR). SOR is another document that permits the residency of the applicant in Japan. Similar to a ‘gate pass’, the document will serve as the employee’s basis for acquiring the Japan Residence Card. Considering that the expatriate works within a contract in a foreign country, the residence card is necessary for all transactions within the country to avoid unnecessary dealings.

Additional things to consider

Another concern for engineering visa applicants would be taxes. This all depends upon the contract negotiation between the applicant and the employer. In this set-up, income taxes charging rests on whether the location of the payroll is offshore or not. If not, taxes are deducted regularly from the monthly salary, and if offshore, taxes are computed depending upon the employee’s duration of stay in the country. Other taxable items such as housing, health coverage, and transportation expenses should be agreed upon during the negotiation prior to the application of COE. In any way, the employer is equally liable with the employee in handling taxes throughout the employment. 

For employees who plan to leave Japan for more than a year or so, it is recommended to apply for re-entry permit. This permit will exempt any foreign employee from having to make another visa application before entering Japan. The application for re-entry permits must be complied with the regional immigration office before leaving the country.

Another thing for pursuing an engineering career in Japan would be the factor of language barrier. With all the increasing demands in such a sector, adequate skills within the profession do not necessarily guarantee advancements. While more and more foreign engineers are being accepted, they should be able to carry a simple conversation and understand instruction in Japanese.

To secure that employees and applicants from other countries do have sufficient Japanese language proficiency, employers require them to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). The proficiency test has 5 levels and engineering companies usually require at least N3 level, sometimes N2 or second-level proficiency. Aside from the benefits, it can provide during employment, it could be helpful as well in the visa application process. If you want to advance in your career, you will definitely need to improve your Japanese language skills in the long run.


Maximizing the opportunities in the engineering sector of Japan would be exciting considering all the possibilities brought by technology nowadays. But before doing so, it is important to acquire all the necessary knowledge to apply for the position. Being well-informed with all the steps and procedures with the right visa application would prevent any unexpected and foolish circumstances along the way. With all these provided, it is up to you right now to pursue your dreams!

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