At a Glance
- Foreign nationals in Japan who hold Temporary Visitor Visas can no longer apply to change their status to a Long-Term Work Visa except where the application is based on humanitarian reasons (such as medical emergencies, childbirth, etc.).
- Change of Status applications under such circumstances can only be filed by foreign nationals who enter Japan under Temporary Visitor Visa status who obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in Japan.
- If the application is rejected, the applicant's COE would be cancelled and the applicant would need to restart their work authorization process.
- The government is working to eliminate this immigration practice to standardize the work visa application process and to streamline the process.
According to a change in practice by the Japan Immigration Services Agency (ISA), foreign nationals in Japan who hold Temporary Visitor Visas can no longer apply to change their status to a Long-Term Work Visa (e.g. intra-company transferee, business manager, engineer/specialist in humanities/international services etc.) except where the application is based on humanitarian reasons (such as medical emergencies, childbirth, etc.).
A closer look
Per the new practice, Change of Status applications based on humanitarian reasons can only be filed by foreign nationals who enter Japan under Temporary Visitor Visa status who obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in Japan.
The COE is a pre-approval document approved by the ISA. It is used to obtain a consular Entry Visa at a Japanese consular post outside Japan as part of the typical work authorization process.
- Stricter scrutiny. If accepted based on humanitarian reasons, the Change of Status application will be subject to strict screening by the ISA and decided on a case-by-case basis.
- Rejected applications. If a Change of Status application is rejected, the applicant's COE will be cancelled and the foreign national may need to leave the country to reapply for a COE at a Japanese consular post. Such a situation will result in delays and additional costs to the foreign national and/or their employer.
This practice is different from the typical work authorization process, where the foreign applicant obtains a COE, followed by an entry visa from a Japanese consular post prior to entering Japan and is granted a Long-Term Work Visa status after entry.
The government is eliminating this atypical immigration practice in order to standardize the work visa application process. While this action may seem restrictive for affected individuals, it is intended to streamline the process to make it easier and more attractive to other eligible foreign applicants.
Japanese immigration authorities have been applying stricter scrutiny in the inspection of immigration cases. Further streamlining of practices is expected especially in regards to the new work visas introduced in April 2019 for semi-skilled workers in industries identified as currently experiencing labor shortages.
Fragomen will report on relevant changes.
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