If you plan to stay in Japan for more than three months, it’s essential to have a visa ( = zairyu card ) that aligns with your intended activities. 

For instance, if you’re a student, you’ll need a student visa; if you’re employed, a working visa (with various categories); and if you’re married to a Japanese citizen, a spouse visa is the right one.

It’s essential to understand that you can only hold one visa at a time. Consequently, if your activities change, you’ll need to change your visa accordingly.

Let’s explore some examples.

1. From student visa to working visa

If you are presently a student in Japan, you should hold a student visa. During your time as a student, you’re focused on your studies at a university or vocational school. As the school year concludes, you face the decision of returning home or continuing your stay in Japan. For those choosing to stay, the next step involves finding employment before graduation.

When looking for a job, it’s crucial to keep one thing in mind—whether the job description aligns with your field of study at university or vocational school. This consideration becomes especially significant for graduates of vocational schools, as immigration authorities meticulously examine the connection between your studies and the responsibilities of the new position. This process can be intricate, as demonstrating these connections may not always be straightforward. If you’re unsure, consulting specialists like us can help evaluate your chances of securing a working visa for the specific job. 

Most job opportunities for foreign students are likely to fall under the category of ‘Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services’ for their working visa application. In the past, this was divided into two categories, but they have now been streamlined into a single category. This simplification benefits companies hiring foreign talent, as it enables them to assign or reassign staff seamlessly under one unified category without the need to change the visa type. Moreover, your job description must still align with one of these categories:

What kind of work you can engage inRequirements
Engineer =any work using the knowledge of technology, physical science, engineering or other natural sciencesHold a degree (or equivalent )in these areas or have 10 years work experience including the duration of studying at high school and vocational schoolsex: took a major in technology at high school for 3 years and worked in the same area for 7 years would make up to 10 years experiences
Specialist as Humanities =any work using the knowledge of philosophy of law, economics, sociology or human scienceHold a degree (or equivalent )in these areas or have 10 years work experiences including the duration of studying at high schools and vocational schoolsex: took a major in sociology at high school for 3 years and worked in the same area for 7 years would make up to 10 years experiences
International Services such as translation, interpretation, language teacher, public relations, international trade, fashion & interior design, product development3 years work experience in these areas* interpretation / translation or language teacher requires a university degree only

Once you’ve successfully landed a job that aligns with your educational background, it’s time to initiate the visa change process. You can submit the application for a Change of Status of Residence, along with the required documents, either directly or with the assistance of a nationally licensed immigration lawyer (gyoseishoshi).

2. From Student Visa to Job Hunting Visa

Embarking on a job search can be an extensive process involving seminars, CV submissions, and agency registrations. Despite diligent efforts, the challenge arises when the job search extends beyond the duration of your student visa. What options are available if you haven’t secured a job before your student visa expires?

In such a scenario, transitioning to a job hunting visa, officially known as a designated activity visa, becomes a viable solution. To qualify, you must demonstrate active engagement in job-seeking activities. Upon approval, you’ll be granted a 6-month job hunting visa, allowing you to continue part-time work for up to 28 hours per week, similar to the privileges of a student visa holder with part-time work permission.

3. Transitioning to Spouse Visa

During your stay in Japan, whether as a student, worker, or tourist, you might unexpectedly meet someone special and find yourself in a whirlwind romance that leads to marriage. If your significant other is Japanese, you can smoothly transition your visa to a spouse visa. ( ※  you have to have 90 days on your tourist visa to change to a spouse visa. )

While the process of changing your visa to a spouse visa is generally straightforward, each case is unique, and sometimes additional steps may be required. Given that this is a significant event in your life, and you wouldn’t want to risk any complications, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of specialists like us.

It’s worth noting that for some countries, you may need to register your marriage separately in your home country. Therefore, checking with your consulate or embassy for further information is recommended. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us for guidance.

4. Transitioning to a Spouse Visa for Same-Sex Married Couples

If you are a legally married same-sex couple and wish to bring your spouse to Japan, it is entirely possible. For more details, please refer to this page. Portuguese translation is also available.

5. Transitioning to Long-Term Residence (After Divorce)

Life is filled with various events, and divorce is certainly one you’d rather avoid. However, if it happens, embracing the situation and moving on to the next stage becomes necessary. 

If you got married to a Japanese national and transitioned to a spouse visa, but the marriage didn’t work out, and you decide to get a divorce, some decisions lie ahead. You need to determine whether to return to your home country or continue living in Japan. If you meet the qualifications, you can change to a working visa; otherwise, exploring the option of long-term residence might be necessary. For more details, please refer to this page.

6. Transitioning to Permanent Residence

After residing in Japan for over 10 years, why not consider applying for a permanent residence visa? This status provides more opportunities, including the ability to borrow money from banks and engage in entrepreneurial ventures. However, obtaining PR is not a straightforward process these days; it takes more than six months, and meticulous document preparation is essential. If you are seriously contemplating PR application, it’s advisable to consult with specialists at the earliest opportunity. For more details, please refer to this page.

Our Services: Tailored Support for Your Unique Situation

While changing visas may not be overly challenging in some cases, if uncertainty and fatigue set in, Visa Navi Japan is here to assist you. Our dedicated team in Hiroshima excels in meticulous consultation to identify optimal solutions for each unique case. Distance is no obstacle to our services; whether you’re in Hiroshima or elsewhere, we can effectively manage your case, providing seamless support regardless of your location.

Contact Us: Expert Guidance at Your Fingertips

If you’re seeking guidance on transitioning from your current visa to one more suitable, don’t hesitate to reach out. Complete the form on our Contact Us page, providing details about your situation. Expect a response within a few days. Your journey to a stable life in Japan begins with the right support.