Many foreign nationals want to start a business in Japan. From 1st April 2015, the first step for success in the Japanese market is to obtain a Business Manager visa. In this page, I will explain about the Business Manager visa.
Sequence of events
1.If you do not have a Japanese visa
If you do not have a Japanese visa, you can apply for a 4 month Business Manager visa from the beginning
This Business Manager visa has been created to make it easier for a foreign national to make preparations to start a business in Japan.
If your application is successful, you will get a Residence Card (please note that you need to have a residential address at this stage). Once you have a Residence Card, it becomes relatively easier to secure an office space and open a bank account.
2.If you currently have a different Japanese visa
In this case, please complete your corporation registration while your visa period is still valid.
You will need to change your visa (Status of Residence) after completion of your corporate registration
When you have established your business by completing the corporate registration, you will need to apply for the change of visa (Status of Residence).
There are three options depending on your circumstances:
- If you hold a 4 month Business Manager visa, you may apply for an Extension of Stay and change it to 1 year Business Manager visa.
- If you hold a different type of visa, you may apply for a Change of Status of Residence to 1 year Business Manager visa.
- If you are applied and assessed as a Highly Skilled Foreign Professional No.1, you may apply for a Change of Status of Residence to Highly Skilled Foreign Professional No.1 visa. In this case, the period of stay will be 5 years.
What are the requirements to apply for a Business Manager visa and then for an extension?
- Securing an office/store space for the business
First, you must secure an office /store space to run your business in Japan. A monthly rental office or a temporary structure such as a portable stall are not acceptable. To use a residence as an office or store space is not usually permitted, although there are some exceptions. As a rule, an officer of the Immigration Bureau of Japan will check the actual place to judge its acceptability for the purpose
- Business content
The proposed business must be practical and based on a clearly documented business plan. Your personal history is also important. If you do not have any experience in the area of your proposed business, your application may be assessed as unlikely to be viable. It is especially important that the articles of association (“teikan”), sometimes called a constitution for the business, is in good order. It is also important to include the detailed profit and loss statement in the business plan. A business that has a good plan but does not seem to have any real substance, or that does not comply with Japanese law, or any business that is assessed as impossible to become operable will not be approved.
You must show an investment of an amount equivalent to 5,000,000 yen. Your company’s financial report is also important for the assessment. If the balance sheet of your business shows surplus, it would be assessed that there is no financial problem with your business, but when it shows deficit and the debts substantially exceed the assets, it becomes a problem. In case of insolvency, it is assessed that it is not worth issuing a Business Manager visa to run your business. The investment for land and building(s) can be counted towards the assessment. If that reaches 5,000,000 yen or more, then that is usually considered as enough investment. You can borrow 5,000,000 yen from your family to invest, but if your investment is based on a loan, you have to submit the loan contract as an evidential document. There are exceptions: this visa has been approved for a case where one had invested 5,000,000 yen or more out of total capital 10,000,000 yen for joint ventures with a Japanese counterpart. Also since 2015, it is permissible, if the investment is made by only the Japanese partner
Your business must have at least one full time employee who is either a Japanese national, a Permanent Resident, a Spouse or Child of a Japanese National, a Spouse or Child of a Permanent Resident, or a foreign national with a Long-Term visa. Until recently, approvals had been given to cases of having just oneself as the staff when one has invested at least 5,000,000 yen. Since April 2015, a capital of 5,000,000 yen is no longer a strict requirement, provided that the scale of return and investment are enough to employ a staff member.
Other cautionary matters
When a foreign national tries to establish a business in Japan, there are many hurdles. You have to prepare all the necessary documents and gain the necessary approvals. There can be problems associated with hiring people and taxes. Often, securing an office/store space can be a problem because of difficulty in finding a guarantor.
For proceedings in Japan and to obtain a Business Manager visa, it is easier, if you have a Japanese partner.
There have been cases that even though the corporation registers were approved in Japan, the immigration bureau has decided to reject the visa applications or extensions. To start a business, both a practical business plan and your career record are very important.
Our office has strong connections with specialists in various fields so that we can advise you of solutions to your specific problems. Moreover, I, Masami Sato, have experience of running a company for more than 10 years and can give you my personal advice over how to draw up a project plan or business plan. I can construct strategies for marketing, and help you with other issues.
Please feel free to contact us if you are considering setting up your own business in Japan and want to apply for this Business Manager visa to start your own business.