student visa, permission to work part time, changing visa to working visa

Many international students coming to Japan first study Japanese at a language school, then enter university or a vocational school. Some of them might then get a job after completing their studies in Japanese.
What would be the first step you take in order to come to Japan as an international student? Could you come to Japan with a tourist visa then change it to a student one?
Let’s see how you can obtain a student visa in order to come to Japan to study Japanese.

1. Advance preparation is essential prior to application for a student visa

It is necessary to acquire a certain level of the Japanese language in advance if you want to come and study at a language school in Japan. The expected Japanese level is equivalent to N5 level of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test or higher. If you are at this level, you should have studied Japanese for around 150 hours and shall have a knowledge of basic grammar and 800 words or so. With this, you should be able to make yourself understood in certain situations in daily life and be able to understand simple sentences written in Hiragana and Katakana. Also, the other basic requirements are set by schools individually so you should check them in advance. In many schools, the following is often requested.

You will need:

  • to have completed 12 years or more of education in your home country, or an equivalent to this
  • A will to study Japanese
  • to have sufficient financial support to cover living expenses and school fees during your stay in Japan

2. Application process for a Student visa

2-1 Find a school

Now, you understand that before coming to Japan, you need to study Japanese to at least N5 level. At the same time, you need to start looking for a school. You can search for schools by the location of where you would like to be, by tuition fees, or by living costs of certain areas (e.g. rural areas have lower living costs). You should also check if you can get any money back if you cancel the course in the middle of it.
In many schools, there are two admission periods per year, some have four, so you need to consider this timing as well.

2-2 How the process works

What follows is the general process flow:

  1. Application for admission and other required documents shall be sent to the school
  2. Selection fee must be paid after all the documents are turned in and confirmed
  3. The school shall review the documents and have an interview in your country or through video chat in order to decide whether you are eligible or not
  4. If the application is approved, the school will apply on your behalf for the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) at the immigration office in Japan
  5. The immigration office will carry out an examination of the application and if immigration thinks that you are eligible will issue a certificate of eligibility (COE ) to the school
  6. Once the COE is issued, the school will inform you, and you should then pay the tuition fees
  7. Once the payment is confirmed, the original COE, and letter of acceptance will be sent to you
  8. After receiving the original COE, take it with you, together with other necessary documents, to a Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country and apply for a student visa
  9. Once you receive a student visa, prepare yourself and come to Japan

2-3 When in Japan – can work part time 28 hours per week

If you hold a student visa, the purpose of stay in Japan is to study. Therefore, you are not allowed to engage in the activity of earning any money. However, if you apply for a “ Permission to Engage in Activity Other than That Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted” ( basically, permission for a part time job ) and it is granted, you can work 28 hours per week. (Please check this page for the details) During a summer holiday, you will be allowed 8 hours per day.
But, sad to say, some students exceed this limit and work more than 28 hours per week. Some don’t go to school and just work to earn money. This is a violation of the law. If you are found out, you might be deported, and might not be able to extend your period of stay nor be able to change your visa which leaves you no choice but to leave Japan.
You might think it’s fine, that you are making a lot of money. But, what if you find a good job, a job of your dreams, and want to carry on living in Japan? There is a high chance that your application to change the visa from a student to a working visa will be rejected when the immigration office discovers you have broken the law.
So please follow the rules. It is for your own good.

2-4 Take an exam and get a qualification.

While you are studying Japanese at school, why not try to take an exam.

If you can pass N2 of Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, this qualification will be very useful when you look for a job. N2 level is more difficult than N3 level, but will give you better job opportunities. So, think of this as your future investment.

3. After 2 years of studying Japanese

You can stay and study Japanese in Japan for a maximum of two years. After that, some may go to university, and others may go to vocational schools where you can get a “senmonshi” qualification, which is a kind of Diploma. Even if you haven’t graduated from university, it is possible to get a working visa using this qualification. The job will have to match this “senmonshi” qualification and what you have studied at your vocational school. If you want to go to university or vocational schools to study further, then it is possible to extend the period of your stay and continue to stay in Japan as a student.
If you have graduated from university in your country, then you can look for a job with this degree, and change the student visa to a working visa straight away.

Our services

Visa Navi Japan cannot help you get a student visa, but can offer you the support in order to change a student visa to a working visa once you find a job.


  • You have found a job but don’t know how to change it to a working visa
  • Your future boss doesn’t know how to proceed to change the visa
  • You or your future boss know how to proceed, but you are worried about getting rejected

In these cases, Visa Navi Japan can offer you the exact support you want. 
We can talk to your future boss, and think together about the best way to process your visa. We can prepare the documents and take the application form to the immigration office for you, as Visa Navi Japan is a nationally licensed immigration lawyer ( gyoseishoshi ).

Contact us

visanavijapan gyoseishoshi
I will help you change your student visa to a working one. Feel free to contact to me!

If you want to make an inquiry about changing your visa for a working visa, or want us to take the case, please fill out the form on the Contact us page and send it to us. We will get back to you in a few days.



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