Everybody has their own reasons for wanting to change jobs. As a foreign national working in Japan, you may wonder whether you are allowed to change jobs in Japan. In this article, we explain how to change jobs in Japan, the relevant immigration rules, and the proper change of job schedule.
First Published: 2022/02/14
Table of Contents
- Reasons to Change Job in Japan
- The Visa Issue - Can you change jobs in Japan?, and other Immigration Rules
- How to Change Jobs in Japan - Suggested Timeline
- Do you need help changing jobs in Japan?
People have different reasons for wanting to change jobs, such as career progression or dissatisfaction with their current job. The following are some common reasons why people have left their job for another.
Dissatisfaction with Salary and Employee Benefits
One of the biggest reasons people change jobs is because of low salary and dissatisfactory employee benefits. Having a low salary and not enough benefits can affect one’s livelihood. Even if it is a job worth doing, it is difficult to continue working if the salary is so low that they cannot make a living. Good salary and benefits are also great work motivators. In an environment where you are not rewarded for your achievements, it will lower your morale, which may lead to wanting to change jobs.
Not sure if your salary is low? Have a look at <What is the average salary in Japan for foreigners?> for an idea. Note that the average salary may also differ by industry, location, and other factors so do some research.
Workplace Relationships Not Going Well
Workplace relationships are very important when it comes to work. If you don’t have a good relationship with your boss and colleagues, or the atmosphere in your workplace is bad, you may not be able to perform your job to the best of your ability. Relationship problems can also lead to mental stress and may even affect your physical health.
If you are subjected to harassment such as power harassment or moral harassment and the situation does not improve, it is recommended that you change jobs as soon as possible.
Overtime Work and Few Holidays
There are some companies that want you to work overtime everyday and where working on holidays is the norm. Overworking is bad for one’s mental and physical health, and working even during one’s private time is a huge strain. Additionally, if you have family, it will also affect your personal relationships as work eats in on family bonding time. Plus, there is no guarantee that you will be fully paid for the overtime hours you do, or the hours when you work on holidays. Many people are triggered to change jobs because they want proper work-life balance, or when their health is negatively affected.
Uncertainty about the Company’s Future
Even if they are satisfied with the job itself, some people choose to change jobs because of the company’s uncertain future due to poor performance. Some signs that a company is not doing well include budget cuts, good employees leaving, stop hiring new people, payment delays, etc. Anyone would feel uneasy if the company’s performance continues to deteriorate and rumours of bankruptcy or takeover start spreading. In the event a takeover or bankruptcy becomes reality, one may face a pay cut or dismissal.
Difficulty Communicating in Japanese
Depending on what your occupation is and your workplace environment, you may be required to speak in high level Japanese. This can be highly challenging for those who don’t have native-level Japanese abilities and so cannot correctly understand the meaning and nuances of Japanese. Therefore, some people may decide to change jobs if their Japanese communication is directly related to their performance evaluation, or if it causes stress and lack of motivation to work.
Cannot Get Accustomed to Japanese Work Culture
Once you’ve actually worked in a Japanese company, you may find that you do not fit in with the culture. Even if you like your job and the company is a good one, some people just cannot get used to how Japanese offices are run, and some of them choose to return home. Another option is to change jobs and find a company with a different work culture.
To learn more about Japanese work culture, read <Japan’s Work Culture: Things to Know Before Working in a Japanese Company>.
Discrimination Against Foreign Nationals
Being treated differently just because you are a foreign national is a trigger for changing jobs. Some companies do not treat foreign national employees the same as Japanese employees. Many people, with good reason, are disappointed or angry when they realise that promotions and salary raises are affected because they are foreign nationals. Do not be discouraged, as there are plenty of Japanese companies that appreciate foreign national employees, and treat all their employees equally.
Yes, changing jobs is allowed in Japan. No, changing jobs in Japan will not affect your visa status.
Getting a job that offers visa sponsorship is one of the most common and easiest ways to start a career in Japan. However, this brings about a common misconception that you cannot change jobs because your work visa is tied to the job.
The truth is that Japanese work visas are issued to individuals and are not in any way linked to the company offering the visa sponsorship. The company is only involved in the initial application process to get a work visa.
The Same Job Scope as Covered by the Work Visa
There are 19 types of Japanese work visa each for fields of employment and job scopes. When changing jobs within the same field covered by the work visa you already hold, then you do not need to change your visa.
However, if you are changing to a different field of work or a job whose scope of work is very different from your previous job , then you may need to reapply for a work visa.
3 Months to Get a New Job
We strongly recommend finding a new job first before resigning from your current position. This is because once you have resigned from your job, you will have only 3 months to find a new job. If you cannot find a new job by the time 3 months has passed, you must return to your home country or else get in trouble for overstaying.
Job Status Change Notification (所属機関の変更の届け出)
You must submit a notification to the Immigration Bureau whenever there is a change in your employment. This includes when you resign from a job, start a new job, your company changes its name, your workplace is changed, and when your company closes down. There are 2 patterns for submitting the job status change notification, depending on whether you have / do not have a new job waiting.
New Job Secured
Your new employer can help you submit the notification. Follow-up with them to ensure they do this within within 14 days of your employment change.
No Job Secured, Job Hunting After Resignation
2 notifications need to be submitted, and at different times. The first notice is after you resign to notify you are unemployed, the second notice when you start a new job to inform you have found employment.
There are 3 ways you can submit the notifications; online (available in English), by mail, or at the counter. For more information, check the link below.
※ Immigration Services Agency of Japan, “所属（契約）機関に関する届出（高度専門職１号イ又はロ、高度専門職２号（イ又はロ）、研究、技術・人文知識・国際業務、介護、興行、技能、特定技能）”
The average time between searching for a new job and starting the new job is approximately 3 to 6 months. Fixing a schedule will help you work more systematically, so set a target period or timeframe and work towards that goal.
Below is our suggested timeline for changing jobs in Japan, which you can use as a reference.
1. Start Job Search
Once you have decided to change jobs, you should start job searching as soon as possible. Part of the early job searching process is information gathering and document preparation. You will need to prepare an updated resume, as well as research companies that you want to work for. If you are well prepared, it will make the job application process that much easier.
For work visa holders, it is highly recommended that you start job searching while still employed. Once you leave your job, you only have 3 months to find and secure new employment or else your visa will be revoked, so be careful when you resign.
2. Apply for Jobs
Find and apply for jobs. The key to finding a suitable job is self-awareness of what kind of job, what type of work environment, etc. that you want. It is best to apply to several companies, not just one. Some companies allow you to visit and check out the work environment to see if it is a good fit, so apply to several to compare and choose the one that suits you best.
3. Attend Job Interviews
After applying for a job and passing the screening process, you will be invited for a job interview. The interview is an important part of the hiring process to assess the job applicant’s personality and whether they are a good fit for the company. At the same time, it is also a great opportunity for you to assess whether the company is a good fit for yourself.
Prepare yourself for the job interview by brushing-up on the correct etiquette and study questions and answers that are likely to be asked at the interview.
4. Prepare to Resign
When you receive an offer of employment, check the working conditions carefully, and make sure to respond by the deadline. If you decide to accept the offer, then it is time to resign from your company.
In Japan, a notice period of 1 month is the norm for resignations. Check your employment contract to confirm what your resignation notice period is. Inform the company of your resignation as early as possible so that they, and you, can make the necessary preparations. Preparations for leaving the company include handover and resignation procedures. The company’s human resources department in particular will need to take care of procedures such as insurance withdrawal, issuing withholding income tax certificate, etc.
It is possible to use your remaining paid leave (if any) to offset your remaining work days. Do not forget to return any items that belong to the company and bring home your own belongings.
5. Prepare to Start the New Job
The procedure is the same as when you first enter a company, and includes signing the employment contract, registering a bank account for salary payments, etc. You will need to submit the withholding income tax certificate you received from your previous company to the new company’s HR department by the end of the year for year-end tax adjustment.
6. Visa Related Procedures
You have 14 days from the date of your job change to submit a job status change notification (所属機関の変更の届け出) to immigration. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to 200,000 yen, and may affect your next visa renewal - shorter period of stay granted.
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