What you should know about the types of work visas and the review period


The number of foreign workers in Japan is increasing. However, in order to work in Japan, foreigners need a work visa. 

Many people have expressed that the application process for a work visa is complicated and difficult to understand. Therefore, this article is about the types of work visas and the review period.

What actually is a work visa?

It is the general term for the residence permits issued to foreigners for the purpose of working in Japan. Most residence permits have a fixed period of validity.

An entry visa is proof of a foreigner’s permission to enter Japan and is different from a work visa (residence status). It is a certificate issued by a Japanese embassy or consulate if they determine that there are no problems with the application documents and passport.

There are three main procedures for applying for a work visa: “Application for Certificate of Eligibility," “Application for Change of Residence Status," and “Application for Extension of Duration of Stay."

If you are applying for a work visa for the first time, contact the regional immigration office that has jurisdiction over your place of residence or the location of the company where you want to work.

Types of work visa

There are 19 types of work visas, including diplomatic and official visas.

  • diplomat
  • official
  • professor
  • artist
  • religious activities
  • journalist/media
  • highly skilled foreign professional
  • business manager
  • law/accounting
  • medicine
  • researcher
  • instructor
  • engineer/specialist in humanities/international business
  • intra-company transferee
  • nursing care
  • entertainment
  • skilled worker
  • specified skilled worker
  • technical intern training

A foreign national can only have one type of visa at a time. Note that the work visa validity period varies depending on the type.

International students can apply for a permit to engage in activities that are not allowed by their residency status. If this permission is granted, they may work up to 28 hours per week,  and up to 8 hours per day (up to 40 hours per week) during long vacation periods such as summer and spring breaks.

Review period for work visas

In order to obtain a work visa, there is a specific application review period for foreign workers.

Although the review period varies depending on the type of application, there is a standard processing time established by law.

The standard processing time is defined in the Administrative Procedure Act as “the standard time normally required from the receipt of the application by the office of the administrative agency to which it is submitted, to the decision on the application."

The general review period for work visas is as follows.

  • Application for a certificate of eligibility: 1 to 3 months
  • Application for change of residence status: 2 weeks to 1 month
  • Application for extension of stay: 2 weeks to 1 month

However, it may take longer if documents are missing or incomplete. If you have questions about documents or applications, contact an administrative scrivener or another specialist.


There are 19 types of work visas, including diplomatic and official visas, as mentioned above. Processing time for work visas varies from 2 weeks to 3 months. Please note that it may take longer if some documents are missing or incomplete.