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Q: How to move to Japan? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: How to move to Japan?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: ceecee000-ga
List Price: $45.00
Posted: 30 Jul 2006 12:53 PDT
Expires: 29 Aug 2006 12:53 PDT
Question ID: 750887
What steps do I need to take, specifically, to legally move from the
US to Japan for a period of at least one year?

Some background.. I'm currently a computer programmer/web designer who
works from home.  Theoretically, I'm an employee of one specific
company that reliably pays me monthly, but technically I'm a
self-employed contract worker (For US tax purposes, I receive a
1099-MISC and file Schedule C).  I'm only vaguely familiar with the
subject of work visas and greencards, but specifically I don't want to
work for a Japanese company, I'd prefer to continue my same
internet-based work while living in Japan.  What do I need to do to
make this whole situation work?  I'm not sure where to begin.. i.e.
How do I get Japan to allow me to stay for longer than the usual
90-day temporary permit for visitors, will I be required to pay
Japanese taxes and/or American taxes, and so on.
Subject: Re: How to move to Japan?
Answered By: boquinha-ga on 31 Jul 2006 05:38 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello ceecee000-ga!

I?ve recently completed answers about Japan and also working in other
countries, so this question caught my eye. Many of the finer details
will of course depend upon the specifics of your current work, and in
many cases having a particular work-related purpose for entering Japan
will be necessary to obtain a visa. Be sure to read through what I?ve
gathered for you about the process and compare it to your own
situation. Here is what I found.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Much of the information regarding visas and living in Japan come from
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) website. In order to gain entry
to Japan, you will need ?landing permission,? granted by an
immigration official wherever you go through immigration procedures.
Part of receiving this permission is holding a valid passport and
having a visa to enter Japan, and as long as these documents are in
order, there should be no difficulty gaining entry.

?Although there are some countries that do give visas the function of
a guarantee of landing permission, most countries, like Japan, have a
system which requires permission from immigration authorities as well
as a visa. . . .

Landing permission is stamped in a foreigner's passport by immigration
officers at the airport or seaport where he or she goes through
immigration procedures. It is this landing permission, not a visa,
that serves as the legal basis for the foreigner's stay in Japan. A
visa is only a recommendation and does not automatically guarantee
landing permission.
When a foreigner wishing to enter Japan arrives at an airport or
seaport in Japan, he or she first of all has to apply to an
immigration officer for landing permission. The immigration officer
will check the validity of the foreigner's passport, the existence of
a visa when necessary, the validity of the visa, the purpose of
entering Japan, the scheduled period of stay, and so on. Landing
permission will be granted only if all the conditions stipulated in
the Immigration Control Act, including those being checked by the
immigration officer, are met.?

There are two general categories of visas in Japan: short-term stays
and work and long-term stays.

?Short-term stays refer to temporary visits of up to 90 days for such
purposes as sightseeing; sports; convalescence; visits to relatives,
friends, or acquaintances; amateur participation in athletic meetings
or other contests; business trips (such as market surveys, business
liaison, business talks, signing contracts, and after-sale service for
machinery imported into Japan); and friendship visits. These
activities require either a temporary visa or transit visa. (However,
this category excludes profit-making operations and paid activities.)?

?If a foreigner wishes to enter Japan for activities other than those
described in section A, he or she will need a diplomatic visa,
official visa, working visa, general visa, or specified visa.
Naturally, foreigners who enter Japan having acquired a working visa
are able to work in Japan. Typical types of employment include the
long-term assignment to Japan of foreign company personnel; employment
in Japanese companies to make use of the foreigner's knowledge of
other countries; entertainment activities, such as concerts, theater,
and sports; and educational activities, such as foreign-language
It is also possible to get permission for long-term stays for some
activities that meet certain criteria, such as Japanese university or
college education or company training, although work is not permitted
in these cases. Permission for long-term residence in Japan is also
granted in the case of spouses of Japanese nationals and others who
settle in Japan.?

Here are the categories of work visas available:

* Professor
* Artist
* Religious Activities
* Journalist
* Investor/Business Manager
* Legal/Accounting Services
* Medical Services
* Researcher
* Instructor
* Engineer
* Specialist in Humanities/International Services 
* Intracompany Transferee
* Entertainer
* Skilled Labor

There are descriptions of these categories available in table format
on this page. You can match up your proposed activities with the
information here to determine into which category you fall.

This page is an appendix from a Ministry ordinance. It describes in
more detail how to qualify in one of these work categories.

In order to obtain a visa to work in or travel to Japan, you must
apply at the embassy in Washington, D.C. or at one of the various
consulates. Here is a list of the Japanese consulates in the U.S.:

* Anchorage
* Atlanta
* Boston
* Chicago
* Denver
* Detroit
* Hagatna, Guam
* Honolulu
* Houston
* Los Angeles
* Miami
* New Orleans
* New York
* Portland
* San Francisco
* Seattle

There are a number of required documents in order to obtain a visa,
whatever its purpose.
* Passport
* Two 45mm x 45mm passport-type photos taken within the previous six months 
* Two official visa application forms, available at the embassy or consulate
* Documents certifying the purpose of the visit

There is a table describing what types of documents are necessary for
each type of visa and each classification of work. There are also
samples of some of the documentation that you are required to submit.

Here is a downloadable visa application.

In order to apply for a visa, a foreigner needs a guarantor in Japan.
This next site talks about guarantors and other issues regarding
obtaining a visa for work in Japan. It is geared toward English
teachers, but the information applies to anyone wanting to work there.

?To get a work visa, a foreigner must show proof of a prearranged job
in Japan and provide the name of a Japanese guarantor. A guarantor is
essentially a person (usually an employer) willing to accept
responsibility for your behavior while you're in Japan. The guarantor
is responsible for paying for a gaijin's [foreigner] return ticket
home if he or she is in trouble.?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


From what you?ve described you will be paid by a U.S. company while
living in Japan. Of course any income you receive from domestic
sources are still taxable per standard IRS regulations. If you receive
any income from foreign sources, you will want to be familiar with IRS
Publication 54, ?Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens
Abroad.? The link below is to the 2005 version and there may be
updates for 2006, but the information here should give you a good idea
of what is in store for you.

?You generally must report your foreign income in terms of U.S.
dollars and . . . you must pay taxes due on it in U.S. dollars.?

According to the ?2005 Tax Guide for Foreigners? published by the
National Tax Agency (NTA) of Japan, all income paid by Japanese
sources is taxable by the Japanese government. This applies to all
residents of Japan for less than 5 years, with no intention of
obtaining permanent resident status.

Here is another site with explanations about taxation of foreigners in
Japan. It is also from the NTA.

IRS Publication 514, ?Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals? details how
you may be able to recover any taxes imposed on you by a foreign
government. Again, you will want to see if your situation applies.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Other than obtaining a visa and being sure to pay appropriate taxes,
there really aren?t any other legal details to work out before working
in Japan. Most of the challenges will come from the cultural
differences that exist there. I?ve included links to other answers on
Google Answers, as well as two more sites that deal some with the
culture of  Japan to help enrich your understanding.

This answer discusses some Japanese business practices as they relate
to specific cultural norms.

Here is another answer dealing with business practices in foreign
countries. Japan is one of the countries included.

Here is an article discussing the basics of Japanese culture.

This page has links to various articles about Japanese culture.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I hope that you find this information useful! Navigating the
immigration policies of any country seems to be pretty complicated! If
you have any need of further clarification, please let me know how I
can help.


Search terms:

?work visa? Japan
Japan taxes U.S. citizen
Japan income tax
Japan culture
ceecee000-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: How to move to Japan?
From: boquinha-ga on 16 Sep 2006 15:44 PDT
Thank you for the 5 stars! 

Subject: Re: How to move to Japan?
From: boquinha-ga on 20 Sep 2006 13:11 PDT
I see you've posted another question. I hope you can find a way to go
after your dreams!


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