Japan Visa: Can you change your tourist visa to a working visa in Japan? and other topics

Japan draws people from all over the world but in order to enter and work in Japan, you need a visa. And sometimes, you need to change your visa status - most people do so they can work. So what does the process exactly entail and what changes are allowed?

Table of Contents

  1. Time to Change Your Visa
  2. Change in Visa Status Application Procedures
  3. So can you change a tourist visa to a work visa?
  4. Can you change a working holiday visa to a work visa?
  5. Summary

Time to Change Your Visa

So you’ve come to Japan and you’ve decided to take the next steps in your life, which means doing something different than what you originally planned. But what does it mean for your visa status?

First, let’s take a look at the visa statuses in Japan.

Here’s a list of Work or Long-term Visas that you can apply for in Japan.

But there’s a chance that you might have come with a short-term visa, such a tourist one, that is valid for up to 90 days (shorter in some countries) as long as you’re not getting paid in Japan for anything.

[Please note that depending on your country, you may actually have to apply for a tourist visa. Countries and regions that are exempt are listed here. If you are exempt, as long as you don’t break any of the rules listed, you can go through customs and receive landing permission via customs which will be stamped onto your passport, so you don’t have to make any additional applications before your trip. If your country is not exempt, please go through the proper procedures to apply for a tourist visa.]

However, if any of the following apply to you, then you will more than likely have to change your visa status: 

  1. You want to work full-time in Japan when your original visa doesn’t allow it

  2. You change jobs and your work or visa category (see visa list above) changes;

  3. You get married or divorced in Japan (and you intend to stay)

Other situations may apply but the above are the basic and most common scenarios where you’d have to look into going through the process to change your visa.

Change in Visa Status Application Procedures

So how do you go about doing this? 

Note: If you are a student or a dependent, you aren’t allowed to work on just the Student or Dependent Visas. But if you simply want to work part-time, you can apply for “Permission to engage in an activity other than those permitted by the status of residence previously granted” and work for up to 28 hours a week. 

※Immigration Services of Japan, "Application for permission to engage in an activity other than those permitted by the status of residence previously granted

If you want to work full-time, you would have to completely change your visa status. That means for students, you would no longer be a student (such as you have graduated and now want to work full-time in Japan). 

The Application

Most people listed above would be using the application “Application for change of status of residence”. Please note that this does not apply for those applying for Permanent Residence as that’s a completely separate and long procedure that can be referred to here

The requirements to apply for the change of status include: 

  • The application itself

  • 4000 yen in revenue stamps for the handling fee

  • A residence card-appropriate photograph (see restrictions and exceptions here)

  • Any further documents required by the visa status you are changing to 

  • Residence card and passport 

More documents may be required depending on your situation, such as records of paying taxes and proof of employment.

So can you change a tourist visa to a work visa?

The answer technically has always been no. You’re not supposed to look for a job while on a tourist visa because that’s an activity not covered by the visa itself. But before, this was a huge grey area because while this wasn’t technically allowed, many applications to obtain a work visa after being hired by companies while on a tourist visa were approved. However, the system has gotten much more strict around the end of 2019 and this is no longer a viable option. While not all applications may be rejected, much more reportedly are than before.

So, if a company hires you and asks you to come to Japan on a tourist visa while they process your work visa, know that it’s not a good company to be working for as you aren’t allowed to work at ALL on a tourist visa, AND it’s become more difficult to obtain a work visa from a tourist visa.

If you are hired by a company while in Japan on a tourist visa, you should go back to your home country and apply for a proper work visa with a Certificate of Eligibility. Since you’ve already been hired (and your company is helping sponsor your visa), then the process should be much smoother and a much higher guarantee than taking a risk to see if your application will be approved while still in Japan. Otherwise, it’s just best to start the job-hunting process from abroad to begin with.

Read our other articles about how to get a work visa here:

Can you change a working holiday visa to a work visa?

Then how about a working holiday visa?

Certain companies have agreements with Japan where young people can go on holiday for a limited time in the country while also working to pay for expenses during that time.

However, because you can work full-time on a Working Holiday visa, you may be able to be hired directly by the company for longer than your Working Holiday duration. However, in that case, you would have to apply for a change of visa status because a Working Holiday duration is limited to a year in most cases.

Because one of the agreements is that you return home to your country after a Working Holiday, you should consult your country’s Embassy to see if you would have to return to your country to process your visa application. Some countries may require it while others may not. It’s best to consult an expert on the matter as it is case-by-case.

Read more about Working Holiday visas here:


There are great job opportunities in the country of Japan, but one must abide by the measures strictly imposed to land a job, including getting the appropriate visa. At present, Japan is in need of workers so if you’re interested in working in Japan, make sure you go through the proper channels to get a start on your dreams!

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