How Foreign Students Can Obtain
a "Gijinkoku Visa"



The general work visa in Japan is called " Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services Visa". Since this name is long, we will use the term Gijinkoku Visa.

In order to obtain a Gijinkoku visa, foreign students must "find a job first," and there are four different ways to check the jobs you can work, depending on your educational background (the highest level of education you have).

Please click on the appropriate educational background from the table of contents below to see the details.

The job description for the Gijinkoku visa is limited to jobs that are related to your educational background (manual labor is not acceptable), or jobs that use languages or dealings with foreign countries.

Let's take a closer look at the details.

Steps to Obtain a Gijinkoku Visa

  1. Find a job
  2. After receiving an offer of employment, apply for a change of visa status to a Gijinkoku visa.
  3. Receive a notice of visa approval.
  4. After receiving a residence card, start working.

If you have graduated from a "College", "University" or "Graduate School" in Japan or abroad

If you have graduated from a "College", "University", or "Graduate School" either in Japan or abroad, and have a degree (associate degree, bachelor, master, or PhD), it is advantageous for applying for a Japanese Gijinkoku visa. (If you plan to graduate, a certificate of expected graduation is required.)

Since "junior college," "university," and "graduate school" are too long, they will be referred to as "university, etc." in the following.

However, please note that even if you have graduated from a university, etc., if the school does not have a degree " associate degree,", "bachelor", "master", or "PhD", or if you have lost your certificate and it cannot be reissued, you are not considered to have graduated from a university, etc.

*The following explanation assumes that you have graduated and have a degree.

Check your courses of study

As the name " Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services Visa " suggests, the Gijinkoku visa includes visas for many types of work.

Specifically, the image of "Engineer = engineering work," "Humanities = other work (excluding manual labor)," and " International Services = language work and overseas trading work" as work related to what you studied at school.

Among these, it is easier to understand if we divide them into " Engineer and Humanities" and " International Services," so we will explain them separately.

About Engineer and Humanities (for graduates of universities, etc.)

In the " Engineer and Humanities " category, there must be a connection between what you studied at school and the work you will do in Japan.

However, if you have graduated from a university, etc., the screening for relevance is less stringent, and you are more likely to be able to do work other than what you studied at school.

The following image illustrates the relationship between academic background and work content in the " Engineer and Humanities " category.

Department/Course NameJob Description
Economics and ManagementSales, Marketing, etc.
Bookkeeping/AccountingAccounting, Finance, Corporate Planning, etc.
ITWeb development Engineering work
LanguagesTranslation and interpretation, overseas trading business, language teacher, etc.
Tourism/HotelTravel business, hotel front desk work, etc.
ConstructionMachinery, automotive, etc. Design (CAD work), construction management, development

For example, if you graduated from an economics department and want to work as an engineer, there are a wide variety of subjects in economics, so if you studied marketing at an economics department, there is a good chance that you would be eligible for a Gijinkoku visa as well.

Sometimes there are people who say that they studied on their own or graduated from a programming school, but this appeal is almost meaningless because it has nothing to do with their academic background.

Rather than saying that you went to a programming school and studied, try to explain how what you studied at university, etc. is even remotely related to your job description.

About International Services (for graduates of universities, etc.)

International Services " includes work that makes use of your native language (or another language if you studied at a university, etc.), or work dealing with foreign countries, interior design work, etc.

In order to work in this international services, you basically need to have at least three years of work experience in international services.

However, university graduates are exempted from the three years of work experience requirement, allowing them to work in a language-oriented field such as trading or language teaching.

As explained at the beginning of this section, in the case of jobs that require language skills, only "native language" or "language studied at school" is allowed.

For example, having a TOEIC score or being able to speak Chinese because you studied it on your own is not highly valued.

In addition, if you work as a translator or interpreter in an international services, such as a sales clerk in an apparel store, a duty-free store clerk, or a cell phone sales clerk in a store with many foreign customers, you may be able to obtain a Gijinkoku visa.

However, please note that you cannot obtain a Gijinkoku visa for a restaurant just because you are a translator or interpreter.

If you have graduated from a Japanese Vocational School

If you graduated from a Japanese vocational school and have a "Diploma" degree, you can also obtain a Gijinkoku visa.

Note that there are some Japanese vocational school that do not offer a "Deploma" degree. If you do not have a diploma degree, it will be more difficult to obtain a Gijinkoku visa.

In addition, only "Japanese vocational school " are accepted for graduation from a vocational school, and "overseas vocational school " are not accepted.

In the case of a vocational school graduate, it is easier to understand the Gijinkoku visa by dividing it into " Engineer /Humanities" and "International Services," so we will explain them separately.

If you graduated from a vocational school in Japan and have a diploma degree, there must be a strong connection between what you studied at the vocational school and the work you will do in Japan.

If you graduated from a university, etc., the relevance is loosely examined, but in the case of a vocational school, it is strictly examined.

Regarding Engineer and Humanities knowledge (for graduates of vocational schools)

As an easy-to-understand image, we consider " Engineer = engineering work" and "humanities = other work (excluding manual labor)" among the work related to the content studied in school.

The specific image of the relationship between " Engineer and Humanities" is shown below.

Department/Course NameJob Description
BusinessSales, Marketing, etc.
ITWeb development Engineering Business
Translation and InterpretationTranslation, interpretation, overseas trading operations, etc.
Photography and Graphic designAdvertising planning and production, image processing, video editing, etc.
Fashion and DesignStore sales (stores with many foreign customers), design, etc.
Bookkeeping/AccountingAccounting, finance, business planning, etc.
Sports businessCorporate sales, marketing, planning, etc.

Although we have described above the work available in each department, it is more reliable to check the "transcript" in the case of a vocational school.

Please be sure to make your decision based on the courses listed on the transcript, rather than by the name of the department.

Some people often think that "translation/interpretation" is the only way to obtain a visa for a Gijinkoku Visa, but they are mistaken.

Please note that only university graduates or those who have studied "translation/interpretation" as a course of study at a vocational school can work as a translator/interpreter.

Instead of looking for a job in translation/interpretation, try to understand the subject you studied and look for a job.

If you have attended a music or voice acting school and obtained a diploma degree, you may think that you can get a Gijinkoku visa because it is related to your course of study, but you cannot get a Gijinkoku visa as a singer or voice actor.

You may be able to get a diploma degree, but you cannot work in the field with a manual labor, so you will have to attend another vocational school or university to obtain anotherdiploma degree or bachelor's degree. If you want to work in Japan in the future, please be careful when choosing a school.

About International Services (for graduates of vocational schools)

As a prerequisite, three years of work experience is required for international services work in international services.

Work experience refers to the experience of doing the same job as a full-time employee (part-time work is not acceptable), so in many cases this does not apply to international students.

And since this 3 years of work experience is exempted if you have graduated from a university, etc., there is no problem for university graduates to look for work in "translation/interpretation".

However, graduates of vocational schools are not exempt from the 3 years of work experience, so they cannot work in "international services business" unless they have studied "translation/interpretation" or "trade" at school.

Therefore, please check your "transcript" first to see if any of your coursework corresponds to "international services business," and if not, try to find a job that falls under either "Engineer or humanities.

People with no relevant educational background

As a general rule, a Gijinkoku Visa requires "Educational Background".

However, even if you do not have an academic background, you can obtain a Gijinkoku Visa if you have "work experience".

Then, how many years of work experience is required?
This also changes for "Engineer/humanities" and "international services," so we will explain separately.

Engineer refers to "Engineering work" and Humanities refers to “work other than manual labor”, such as sales and marketing work.

International services work" refers to work that makes use of your native language (including other languages if work experience proves that one has worked in other languages), business transactions with foreign countries, interior design work, etc.

What is the required number of years of work experience?

In conclusion, we state the following.

Years of work experience required for a Gijinkoku visa

  1. Engineer/Humanities = 10 years
  2. International services = 3 years

And this work experience refers to your main work experience as a full-time employee or contractor.

If you have changed jobs and have work experience with more than one company, you can add them together, but you cannot include years of part-time work.

In addition, if you run your own business or were a sole owner business for a period of time, you can include that as work experience, but the key is to be able to prove it.

The key is to be able to prove your work experience with a "certificate of employment.

The certificate of employment is obtained from your former employer, so if your former employer does not cooperate with you or has already gone bankrupt, it will not be accepted as work experience even if you were really working there.

In the case of company management or sole owner business, you have no choice but to make your own certificate of incumbency. In the case of company management, you can provide proof by submitting documents together with the period during which the company was registered in the country, like a certified copy of the Japanese registration book.

In the case of a sole proprietorship, there may be a certificate of sole owner business in some countries, so if there is, prepare that certificate; if not, look for other official documents that can prove your business.

If you cannot find one, you will have to prepare a portfolio of your past achievements and prove it, but please note that it may not be accepted as work experience. (This is an Immigration Bureau decision.)

How to fill out the Certificate of Employment

Please be careful about the information to be included in the certificate of employment, as it may not be acceptable without it.

Details that must be included in the certificate of employment

  1. The period during which you were working (from day month year to day month year)
  2. Details of the work you were performing
  3. Company name, address, and telephone number
  4. Signature of the representative and date of creation

Work experience will not be accepted if even one day is missing.

Even if it says "worked from January 2010 to December 2019," it is not clear if you really have 10 years (or 3 years).

Therefore, make sure to have the dates stated clearly, such as from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2019.

Another point to keep in mind is the "job description".

Work experience is Not how many years did you start working after graduated school.

It is the “Same Work Experience” as the work you do in Japan, so if you submit a certificate of employment for a job different from the one you do in Japan, it will not be accepted.

Therefore, please ask the applicant to write down the specific details of what kind of work you were doing.

It is more advantageous if you can prove that the work you were doing was the same as the work you would do in Japan, rather than the phrase, "diligent and excellent.”


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