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Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/17 04:29
Hello guys,

So where shall I start? About this time last year, I started to really get interested in Japan. Their culture and the country in general. Since then I have read and informed myself a lot (also started to learn the language). Around August, I decided that I wanted to move to Japan (Tokyo) at the end of January 2022 and this idea has stuck with me ever since.

Some information about my professional background. I have been a junior software developer (currently 34 years old) for almost a year and I can work completely remotely. Therefore, it would not be a problem for the company I work for if I move to Japan.
Of course, when I move, the current contract cannot be continued. Therefore, we would convert it to a freelancer contract which would technically make me self-employed.

I would also like to mention that I have a very stable position within my company and therefore, a stable income which can fully support my life in Japan.

Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to visit Japan yet. I'm aware that this may sound far-fetched without realizing how difficult it can/will be but I think that I have a general idea and I will not shy away from working my way through that.

To summarize things, I would live in Japan and work for a company (remotely, headquarters based in Germany) that is not based in Japan. While technically self-employed, the job is secure with enough income even accounting for the taxes, etc.

However, I'm unsure if this is enough to make me eligible for any kind of visa and if so, what type of visa would that be? If not, is there another way to get a visa that would fit with my circumstances?

Looking forward to your replies,
by steven2021  

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/17 12:28
Visa for living in Japan is granted (provided you fulfill certain requirements depending on the specific visa category) on as “as needed” basis, meaning, you apply for and get a student visa if you want to study at a college/language school in Japan and need to be here, you apply for a spouse visa if you are married to a Japanese national and the two of you move to Japan so that you can stay together in Japan, or you apply for a work visa if an employer in Japan wants you for your skills and experiences and wants to bring you over so that you can work for them, or you apply for an inter-company transferee visa if your company has a branch office in Japan and they want to send you to work in their Japan office.
But in your case, do you “need” to be in Japan? No. Unfortunately currently there is no visa category that allows you to live in Japan while working remotely for an overseas entity, thus not needed to be in Japan.

There have been some threads about people who went “self-sponsoring,” but that is for people (as far as I know) who have been employed by one company in Japan, built some experiences, then decided to go more like freelance so that they have a few stable clients in Japan.
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/17 13:00
What did you read and what informed you so far?

I met many EU people who insist that they can move abroad (and drive without an international license or Japanese license) freely as long as they have a passport of an EU country or a resident of EU. However, this is affective only within EU.

None of I-want-to-live-because-I-like-there people can allowed to move without meeting all requirement, it is not only Japan but also your country, my country, and many other countries.
by www (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/17 14:58
Do yourself a favor and come to Japan as a tourist first – and not in January, but in mid-June. Use the year to save some money, come in mid-June 2022 for as long as you can afford, preferably the full three months, and travel around Japan a bit, maybe staying several weeks at a time in one town.
Right now you actually have no idea if you really like Japan or not – but if you don’t like it as a tourist during the hot and humid months, you sure as heck don’t want to live in Japan for good...
by TryItOutFirst (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/17 15:24
Excuse me, I forgot to write what I wanted to tell you the most. It is about the sites of MOFA. You can learn what visas Japan offers and can see example of position and or occupation in each visa. It is better to refer to rules of your distination, Japan, not only rules of residencial place, Germany. I also retract about driving as it may mislead, not related to the topic.
by www (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/18 09:56
As you describe it, you would be a free-lance/self employed, but NOT free-lancing for Japanese clients, therefore, the self-employed route does not apply - you are not "working" in Japan. Therefore, your status in Japan would be temporary visitor and you do not have any rights or entitlement to stay long term or be granted a status of residence.
When the visa/border restrictions return to more normal situations you would be granted a 90 day stay/temporary permit (and from Germany I believe you can apply for an additional 90 days to make a total of 180 days), then you must leave the country. You can come back again (after a couple of days even), but you would not be a resident.
As a non-resident, living here is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/22 15:47
Thanks everyone for your replies,

I more or less expected the outcome of your answers.
Also, I had a closer look on the available visa options, thanks to www.

As my employer does not have a branch/office in Japan yet (we may consider that but that lies way in the future), the only possible visa left would be the student visa and this is where it may get creative now.
The last few days I've looked around on this website and others regarding being a language school student and having a one man company aka kojin jigyo (個人事業).
On some sites I've read that it is allowed to work up to 28 hours a week and also be able to open that company type with a dependent, working or student visa (which would be the one for me I guess).

So the plan could be to attend a language school for about two years (3-4 hours each day) and work for 28 hours a week for my current company as a sole proprietor.
After those two years the office may be established and I will switch there to get an Intra-Company Transferee visa; if not I was thinking to maybe apply for a Japanese company instead and therefore get a work visa.

Does anybody has knowledge of the conditions of the student visa combined with the kojin jigyo?
by steven2021 rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/22 16:31
They 28 hours a week is for a Japanese company. They work you are doing isn't for a Japanese company.

Tourist route option suggested above is better option. It gives you the ability to travel the country and not have questions asked about work. Going to a language school means you gotta stay in the one location and only travel on weekends or holidays.
by h (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/22 17:01
I know that student visa holers with a work permission are not allowed to engage some works. I am not sure solo trader is included in those prohibited works but I am sure work permission itself is just to help with expense for study and life, it is not one used instead of a visa for working (you can search this word ぎそうりゅうがくせい) . Even if it is no problem legally, I doubt if tax office in Japan recognize you a solo trader in Japan and your business is approved.

If you are a freelance or a solo trader, you can't apply intra-company visa even if your cliant open a Japan branch, you must be their employee in your country.
by Mabuhay (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/22 17:05
I am not sure if you can be a “sole proprietor” while being on a student visa. The intention of allowing part-time job (up to 28 hours a week) to those on student visa is to help them supplement the living expenses while studying in Japan. So combining work (true aim) and studying in that way has never been the purpose of that.
Also, if you do that way, please note that you’d need to have the money transferred over for your living, then you’d be required to declare that income for income taxes and things, as a resident in Japan.

As someone on “temporary visitor” status, you’d be limited to max 90 days of stay. As a German you “should” be able to extend it by another three months, but that is all you get. And as JapanCustomTours mentioned, this will not make you a “resident,” so somewhat “afloat” in terms of where your residency is, where you owe taxes to, pension, health insurance, etc.
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/22 20:16
Also if you become a language student you MUST attend class every day. They take attendance record and if you miss too often (the threshold is low) the school can kick you out and you can loose your visa. The student visa is for people who want to study in Japan. Not for people who actually want to work.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 03:14
Just visit first. Everyone (seriously) who posts similar questions without having visited first thinks they have a good idea of what to expect. I'm sure they have good intentions, but with respect they have no idea.

When I moved to Japan for the first time I lived in a gaijin house complex with I guess about 24 residents and without exaggeration it was absolutely full of people who had come thinking they knew what they were in for, and then in reality everything was completely different. Most people couldn't fit in anywhere in society outside of the gaijin bubble, people were stuck in social circles full of people whose only common trait was "not Japanese", the general level of Japanese ability was very low, basically nobody there had what I would consider to be a good life.

I am not saying it is impossible or even that hard to go to Japan and live a normalish life. What I am saying is, most people don't realise that they don't know about life in Japan, because they genuinely have reached the ceiling of what research is possible via the internet. It's not that they don't do enough homework, it's that they CAN'T know without ever having set foot in the country. It is impossible and this is a fact.

Go to Japan as a tourist. Rent a monthly mansion for 90 days, or you can even extend your temporary status to 180 days if that is possible. Work remotely. Enjoy what the country has to offer but also try to spend a lot of time living as you would if you moved permanently. See what it is like. You can't lose this way. Worst case scenario you get a long holiday in Japan and if you don't like it you can go home and forget the country even exists. But please don't just move to Japan without real employment, connections in the country, awareness of the culture, or the ability to use the language (Japanese is hard by the way, I have been learning for over a decade and while I can function in society well and have relationships with monolingual Japanese people, I still have frustrating experiences), that would be an enormous mistake.

Forget about visas and what you are going to do in two years when (if?) your company opens an office in Tokyo. Go as a tourist when the borders open whenever that happens.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 07:45
Reading your reply, my first thought about your 28 hours per week work was similar to @Likebike you MUST attend class every day
This is not a trivial item - language schools are under scrutiny for their students to attend classes, and these are full time, not just a few hours a week (day). Doing that and a job on top (even if well short of 28 hours per week) is demanding and time consuming. (You might also have homework you need to complete to keep up.)
You do mention an intracompany transferee visa - that is probably your best route (in a couple of years), but your company/employer would need a reason to establish an office in Japan. Also, the local company would need a Japanese representative. You might be able to satisfy that requirement, but the specifics are quite tricky and beyond the advice you would get off an internet forum. (and even professional advisors might not give you the correct advice, took be a couple of tries before I found good experts that knew what they were talking about)
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 09:51
If you did take the student visa route (which others have already provided the downsides for), there would be no need for you to register as a sole trader. The working conditions of the student visa are specific to working in Japan for a Japanese employer - i.e., drawing a salary from Japan. This would not be your case - you are still technically working in your home country by being freelance. Lots of tourists work freelance remotely while travelling; what is important is that you do not take a job in Japan while travelling (even for food/board, as this is considered payment).

As already pointed out, language school would not be a good option for want you want to do. And you can only travel for so long on a tourist visa. There is no way for you to work remotely for your current company in Japan indefinitely while travelling.

There is a long-term tourist visa available for one year; however, this required evidence of significant savings (Google it if you would like to know, but you do have to be rich!) to show that you can support yourself for a year without working.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 16:19
I think most respondents still recommend you to visit Japan as a tourist (when time came ) at first to see what does Japan like and whether or not it is a country for you to live is ideal, responce which is sharing visa knowledge is just answer to your question.

Visiting Japan as a tourist before moving is not wasting time and money. You can realize what information you have missed and how much you have been misled by Internet. I met many people who just flew but returned to own country soon, having complained about culture which using perfume is not so welcomed, locals who are different from people in Amime, traffic rules which doesn't allow you drive in Japan with a license of own country, food which don't fit own belief, and so on.

By the way, you are not seriously learning the Japanese language, you are not working for a Japanese company, then what is your purpose for living in Japan?
by www (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 20:17
I even doubt if a student visa will be granted as long as your financial statement for visa application is "income by remote work for a company in own country while in Japan" rather than "enough savings from current work in own country", "scholarship" or "support of family or somebody". I think basically student visa isn't granted for people who can't afford school and living expense without working longer than studying.
by www (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 20:31
It seems that I gave the wrong impression about some things.
Of course, I want to (continue to) study Japanese seriously because I also want to interact with the people, get to know about the culture in more depth, history, etc.
That was the initial reason why I got interested in Japan because I find the country, the culture/way of living interesting - of course only from "experience" that I have from the internet and a few experiences of friends who have been there for holiday.

Regarding the language school; I wasn't thinking about dodging/staying away from any lesson at all.
I'm aware that it will be a lot of work (I had a similar thing a few years ago when I caught up some school degree in the evening and was working full time during the day).

Also, I don't want to dodge Japanese taxes (in fact it would be cool if I could contribute to the country by doing that), but I'm more trying to find a way to get my foot into Japan to then look for a long term solution (e.g. switch to my company's office when it's open, completely to a Japanese one, etc.).
As so many of you recommended (and especially LIZ described in detail) I think I will go there for a holiday first; I even had that plan, immediately, when the country will open its borders again but now without moving if I haven't been there.
by steven2021 rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/23 21:56
Depending on how long your vacation will be, you could take language lessons as well. Some schools offer short-term programs. Although two weeks/one month of studying won't make you really proficient in Japanese, it can be useful to assess what you have learnt on your own.
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unsure about the correct visa for moving 2021/6/24 01:24
If your residing place has a Shimai toshi relationship with a city or prefecture in Japan and they have an exchange program for adult, this could be good also for you before moving. Such program is generally a 2-3 weeks tour and lets you interact with Japanese people, arranging home stay and activities for cultural experience that is impossible or hard to arrange for general tourists without help of a local friend.
by www (guest) rate this post as useful

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