It is possible to have your visa changed when you change the purpose of your stay after you enter Japan, for reasons such as change of your job or change of your visa status.
For example, it is necessary to change your visa if you have been an international student and find employment after graduation. If you are going to work, a work visa becomes the basis for your stay in Japan. Once you are employed and obtain a new replacement Resident Card that specifies your work, you are approved as a working adult in Japan.
Generally, a Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa is the choice for an Arts graduate and an Engineer/Technical Expert visa is the choice for a Science graduate. First, however, you need to apply for a Change of Status of Residence to a work visa, prior to commencing your work. You are not allowed to start work before your work visa has been approved. If you have graduated and are still looking for a job, you can change to a Specific Activities visa while you are seeking an employment.
It is possible to start your own business, but a change to an Investor/Business Manager visa is quite difficult, and your financial capacity would be investigated.
There have been cases of foreign nationals applying for a change of visas when they married to Japanese nationals after entering Japan to work or to study, or when their marriage broke up but needed to continue their work.
In any case, if you have a criminal record, it is difficult to change your visa. It does not matter how much financial capacity you have.
If you have divorced with your Japanese spouse or lost your Japanese spouse by death and you are looking after your Japanese child, a change of visa is approved irrelevant of the duration of the marriage. In these cases, Long-Term Resident visas are issued. There have been cases of issuance of Long-Term Resident visas when there were no children but their prior durations of stay in Japan have been long. In case of a divorce, if the marriage was genuine and lasted at least 3 years, you can apply for a Long-Term Resident visa.
When you want your visa to be changed, you apply at the Immigration Bureau of Japan. However, approvals are at the discretion of the Minister of Justice and not all the applications are approved.
For all cases, the following documents are required.
- Your passport and a Resident Card (or an Official Copy of the Registered Information on the Alien Registration, if you still do not have a Resident Card);
- an Application for Change of Status of Residence;
- a document that describes the activities you would like to engage in and a statement of your reasons;
- a certificate for your new activity, such as employment contract;
- if you are changing your job, a copy of a certificate of leave of work of your former job and a certificate of tax deducted at source;
- if you want to work after being an international student, a graduation certificate, a certificate of registered matters of the company you are going to work and its statutory record;
- if you are changing your visa to a Spouse or a Child of Japanese National visa or a Long-Term Resident visa, then you need a letter of guarantee from a guarantor.
I will repeat here that the approval is at the discretion of the Minister of Justice and is not automatic. It is not easy to prepare all the documentation prove the facts and be approved of a different visa. If you want to change your visa, contact us as your first step.