Special Measures for International Students under COVID-19 Crisis


photo by Chad Davis

The COVID-19 pandemic has given significant impacts on Japanese society, affecting peoples’ lives in negative way. Especially, food industry and tourism had the hardest hit. Many international students learning in Japan have part time jobs in these industries, therefore now, they are facing job loss or suspension from work because of the pandemic. Among various measures implemented by the Japanese government to support foreign residents in Japan, some of such measures differentiate international students and other foreign residents.


Special Payment System for Students

Students living in Japan (including international students) whose annual income is below a certain level can may be allowed to postpone contribution payment (Special Payment System for Students). This is normally determined by your income in the previous year. But under the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be allowed to postpone contribution payment if you submit a proof of decreased “estimated income of this year” and the amount is approved to be under a certain level.

  • Eligible person: Students whose income is below a certain level (income of family member is irrelevant)
  • Target period: April 2020 – March 2021, from April 2021 TBA
  • Contact: Local government office or Japan Pension Service Office



Special Measure for People Who Want to Extend Their Stay in Japan

Former International Students Looking for a Job/Waiting to start a Job

Among former international students, people who are on “Designated Activities” and looking for a job but have difficulty, or had their expected job cancelled but wish to continue looking for another job may be allowed to renew their visa to remain in Japan. Also, people who have a confirmation of new job but the starting date is postponed are allowed to extend their stay in Japan. You will need to apply for extension of your visa.

Special Measures for Technical Intern Trainees

Different from ordinary international students, technical intern trainees who are on “Technical Intern Training” visa and have difficulty to return to their countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic are allowed to extend their stay in Japan (application required). Procedures of application are different depending on types of their visa and applicants’ situations.

  • Eligible person 1 (who have difficulty to return to their country): Allowed to convert to “Technical Intern Training (6 months)”
  • Eligible person 2 (who couldn’t have an exam): Allowed to convert to “Technical Intern Training (4 months/with work permission)”
  • Eligible person 3 (who have difficulty to continue working because of their employer’s situations): Allowed to convert to “Technical Intern Training (up to 1 year/with work permission)”
  • Eligible person 4 (who finished Technical Intern Training 2, but is not ready for Technical Intern Training 1 exam): Allowed to convert to “Technical Intern Training (4 months/with work permission)”
  • Eligible person 5 (who finished Technical Intern Training 2 and wishes to shift to Technical Intern Training 3): Allowed to convert to Technical Intern Training 3
  • Contact: Regional Immigration Services Bureau or District Immigration Office



Other Measures that All Foreign Residents Including International Students Can Use

Temporary Loan Emergency Funds

If you are suspended from your part time job or about to lose your job because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can borrow Temporary Loan Emergency Funds from your local government.

  • Emergency Small Fund
  • General Support Funds (living expense)

Housing Security Benefit

This system is for people who are about to lose or have lost their residence because of financial pressure, and the government pays benefit to cover their monthly rent. The benefit will be paid directly to a landlord by the government.

Reduction or Exemption from National Health Insurance

A person who has difficulty to pay National Health Insurance contributions because of job loss or disasters are eligible for reduction or exemption from contribution payments (application required).

Postponement of Payment for Utility

The Japanese government has requested electricity companies and gas companies to allow their customers postponement of bill payments. Companies such as TEPCO and KEPCO provide 1-or-2-months grace period for bill payments. If you have difficulty to pay utility bills, inquire your electricity and gas company.

See Financial Supports for Foreign Residents under COVID-19 Crisis


Fight Against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccination has started in Japan, but there is no sign of ending this pandemic. Vaccination is only available for cross-border workers, medical workers and people at high risk. It will take more time for ordinary citizens and residents until they get vaccinated. That means, there will be more time for international students in Japan to get their normal lives back. So, if you are facing financial difficulty, consult your local government office and ask them if you are eligible for Special Payment System for Students, reduction or postponement of contribution payments.





あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>