How long can you stay in Japan on a work visa? │ Legal length of stay and renewal
The residence status for a work visa has a maximum validity period of 5 years. More precisely, the duration of stay is determined individually when processing the application for issuance, modification, or extension of a visa.
If you wish to continue working in Japan, you should apply for an extension before the expiration date of your current visa or change to another qualification that will allow you to stay longer or settle in Japan.
The “work” status of residence (work visa) has an expiration date
There are different types of residency statuses you can apply for. If you want to stay as a foreign worker, you must apply for a residence status that allows you to work in Japan (work visa), which depends on the type of industry and the content of your work. The “length of stay" is determined when the work permit is issued.
Even if you intend to work in Japan for much longer, you can only stay until your residency expires – the expiration date – and then apply for an extension when your status is about to expire.
The maximum length of stay (expiration date) for a work visa is 5 years
The maximum length of stay that can be obtained on a work visa is generally 5 years.
You should keep in mind that the immigration inspector decides the length of stay on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the law. So even if you apply for a visa for five years, you may be granted a visa for a shorter period of time, such as one year, three years, or three months.
▼Examples of the duration of stay for a work visa
- Technology/Humanities/International Business, etc.: 5 years, 3 years, 1 year or 3 months.
- Business/Management: 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, June, 4 months or 3 months.
How to continue working after your period of stay expires
To continue working after your stay in Japan expires, you must apply for an extension permit. If you want to live in Japan indefinitely, you can also apply for permanent residence.
Instructions for extending your period of stay
One thing to keep in mind when renewing your visa is the risk that your current visa could become invalid before your new visa is issued. If you do not have a valid work visa, you will have to quit your job and leave the country temporarily. If you continue to work, you will be penalized for illegal employment.
The standard review period is approximately 2 weeks to 1 month
Work visa renewal (extension of expiration date) is easier than the initial application. According to the Ministry of Justice information page (link), the standard time the standard time for processing the application and approval is about 2 weeks to 1 month.
Timing for applying for visa extension
Even though it usually only takes one month to extend your stay, it is extremely risky to submit the application at the last minute. It is best to prepare the documents in advance and submit the application as soon as possible, i.e. three months before the current visa expires.
If there are special circumstances, such as hospitalization or an extended business trip, the application may be accepted even earlier.
How foreigners can work continuously in Japan for a long time
In order to continue living and earning an income in Japan, many foreigners would like to obtain a residence status that allows them to stay longer without restrictions on their activities. This may not be possible immediately after first entering Japan, but you can obtain a longer period of residence each time you apply for an extension without much additional effort.
The length of stay for a work visa increases with each renewal
When you apply for a visa for the first time, the authorized period of stay is usually very short. It is considered a period during which the living and working environment of the foreigner should stabilize. Each time you extend the visa, the period is usually longer.
With your first visa, you can learn about Japanese culture and work hard on your career. You do not have to think about changing your qualification yet, you can simply extend your current visa\.
Changing your residency status or becoming a permanent resident or naturalized citizen
When you are ready to settle in Japan, you can apply for permanent residency or naturalization. This not only expands your scope of action, but also that of other family members and the degree of freedom in transactions such as loan agreements.
Those engaged in highly specialized activities in academic research or technical fields may change their qualification to “highly skilled professional" with a 5-year stay or permanent residence. In addition to the expansion of permitted activities for family members and dependents, they will receive preferential treatment when applying for permanent residency.
Conclusion │Application for a visa/extension/amendment should be made as soon as possible
The expiration date of a work visa (work residency status) is up to 5 years and is based on the length of stay at the time the visa is issued or amended.
For foreigners who earn income in Japan, it is imperative to avoid the expiration of their work visa. You should renew your visa or consider changing your residency status as soon as possible.
▼What you should know about the work visa expiration date
- You must leave the country when your work visa expires
- Apply for the renewal permit early (applications are accepted 3 months before the expiration date of the current visa, i.e. from the date of visa approval)
- If you are applying for naturalization, you must continue to apply for an extension of your visa during the naturalization process, which may take more than a year to complete