Attention working visa holders! What if you lose your job in Japan?


photo by Tax Credits

The increasing number of foreign-born workers in Japan has become more notable in recent years. Each worker holds different visa status to reside in Japan; permanent residents, long-term residents, part time workers on student visa or working visa holders. Workers on working visa, among other things, are conditioned to have specific occupations. There is no problem as long as you are on a stable job. But what if you become unemployed? What will happen to your visa? The followings are notes for all working visa holders to remember.


About working visa

The government of Japan offers 27 different visas for foreign nations to stay in Japan. 17 visas out of 27, such as professor, artist, legal/accounting services and medical services are generally called working visas. Foreign residents who have been granted with working visas are allowed to work in a specific field and earn remuneration within Japan. Engineers (e.g. system engineer, motor vehicle design engineer), skilled labor (e.g. chef, architect, product processor) and specialist in humanities/international services (e.g. interpreter, translator, language teacher) are the three most demanded jobs among other things. However, those working visa holders are not allowed to receive remunerations in other fields that are not permitted under their visa status.


If working visa holders lose their jobs, what happens to their visa status?

Under the new residency management system introduced in July 2012, visa holders are required to notice the Immigration Bureau of Japan when they lose the jobs. In such a case, your current visa status will remain the same with no immediate revokation. The visa status will continue with no change until its expiry date if you find a new employment within 3months (you still need to advise the Immigration Bureau of Japan that you have changed the organization you belong to). However, if you make no particular efforts to find a new employment and remain unemployed for over 3 months, your visa will be subject to revocation. Also, if you remain unemployed until the day your visa expires, the renewal of the visa will be extremely difficult.


Be careful when you take a part time job after leaving the job

After you leave your job, the first thing that concerns you would be the next source of income. But note that you are only allowed to work in the fields permitted under your visa status when you decide to find a part time job to fill the gap, which probably is the easiest solution. If you wish to work in the different field other than permitted under your visa status, you will need to apply for a “permission to engage in an activity other than that permitted under the resident status”. Furthermore, you will have to be able to explain why you need to change the job category in details. Also, working visa holders are not allowed to engage in a manual labor as a general rule. For example, a teacher who is on the instructor visa status is not allowed to work in the position of a line worker in a factory.


When you find a new job

Finally, you find a new employment. What a relief! But before you celebrate, there is one more thing you should sort out.

If you have a plenty of time before visa expiry and your new employment is the same category as the previous one: apply for a “certificate of authorized employment”. The certificate is issued by the minister of justice of Japan to confirm that you are lawfully permitted to work in a specific field. The procedures of assessment for this certificate include an assessment of the new employer whether they meet the conditions of your visa status. Accordingly you will know if you are allowed to work for the new employer or not. Also it helps you avoid a trouble such as having your visa renewal rejected for unpermitted work in the future.  

If you have little time before visa expiry and your new employment is the same category as the previous one: apply for a “permission for extending period of stay” before or after you start the new job. It is recommended to obtain a certificate of authorized employment before starting the new job, but it normally takes a few weeks. If your current visa will expire in the very near future, your first propriety would be an extension of period of stay.

If your new employment falls into the different category from the previous one: If you are going to work in the different category from your previous job, you are required to obtain a permission to change the status of residence before you start working for the new employer. The assessment of the permission to change the status of residence include an examination whether your future position with the new employer meets the condition of your status of residence. Therefore you need to carefully research on companies and positions you wish to apply for.

※ In either case, you are required to notify the Immigration Bureau of Japan that you have changed the organization you belong to.



All working visas are issued on the assumption that the visa holders are employed in specific categories of job. This is the reason why the working visa holders are required to find a new employment as soon as possible after they resign a job. A few restrictions on the nature of the job or an eligibility to engage in a manual labor might give you a little disadvantage to find another employment. However those can be overcome if you fully utilize tools such as Hello Work branch offices all over the country, employment service centers or online job search engines.


Related Article:
Residency card: the Residency Management System in Japan
Want to work part-time as international students? Get permission before starting a job
Looking for a second job? Precautions for working visa holders
Students and employees, learn about Notification concerning the accepting organization or the spouse
Work visa holders, get certificate of authorized employment when changing jobs
Before your visa expires, Application for extension of period of stay
Finding a job in Japan? Application for Change of Status of Residence for expected graduates
To change your status of residence from Temporary Visitor, get Certificate of Eligibility
Want to stay in Japan after your working holiday ends? Apply for change of status of residence 
So, what conditions do we need to meet to get working visa in Japan?
Can a tourist extend Temporary Visitor visa?
How many times can tourists enter Japan on Temporary Visitor visa?
Specified Skilled Worker: New visa for unqualified foreign workers





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"!

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