Want to leave your country and live in Japan? Here’s how you can do it!
So maybe certain recent events have made you decide you no longer want to live in your home country, or maybe it’s always been a dream of yours to move to Japan and live there.
Well either way, today we’ve got you covered! Moving to Japan permanently can be quite complicated, but it’s far from impossible, so long as you have a plan.
That’s why today we’re counting down the top five steps to immigrating to Japan. Had enough of where you’re living and want to go somewhere else? Now’s your chance to get your move on!
So let’s get to it! Starting off with…
Honorable Mention: Decide if you really want to do this
Moving to another country is a big decision and one that you shouldn’t make lightly. If you’re young, perhaps right out of college, then moving to Japan could be a great experience. However, depending on your professional goals, taking a few years off just to test out the waters in another country might also put you at a significant disadvantage later.
And if you’re older, with a spouse or children or other responsibilities, it’s important to take that into account before you pack up and leave. Will you be able to continue your job from Japan? Will your spouse? What school will your children go to? It’s important to consider these points and talk to the important people in your life before you officially sever any ties with your home country.
But, if you’ve thought about it long and hard, and you’re determined that moving to Japan is the right thing to do, then awesome! There are a few ways to immigrate to Japan, but for most people, one of the easiest is starting with this first step…
#5. Get English-teaching certified
Esther IELTS (@EstherIELTS) January 29, 2016
So let’s talk visas for a second. Typically, most people come to Japan on a tourist visa, which, depending on what country you’re from, is only good for a few months and doesn’t allow you to work. Sure, you could get lucky and find someone willing to hire you and upgrade your visa while on vacation, but the odds are against you.
If you’re planning on immigrating to Japan, one of the easiest paths is by getting a work visa before you come. There are many different types of work visas depending on the job you’ll do, and they’re usually good for at least a year, if not several years.
One of the easiest visas for native English speakers to get is an instructor visa. The way you obtain one is by getting a job at a Japanese eikaiwa (English language school) or public school as an ALT (assistant language teacher).
There are a plethora of options when it comes to teaching English in Japan. However, most of them require at least a bachelor’s degree (in any subject). Japan is also strict when it comes to credentials, so taking some English-teaching certification courses can seriously boost your resume. See if any schools or organizations offer TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification in your area, or check out Oxford Seminars, which a lot of my students have had success with.
But let’s say you don’t want to teach English. Maybe you already have a job and you want to continue in that field in Japan. Well that’s going to be a lot harder, but not impossible. The first step to doing that is…
#4. Learn Japanese
If you want a job in Japan that’s not teaching English, then you’re going to have to apply to it like everyone else in Japan, and that means you need to become fluent in Japanese.
Going about it this way is obviously going to be much harder than the English-teaching route, but if you’re determined to go to Japan and pursue a different career path, then learning Japanese is 100-percent mandatory.
As we’ve seen before, learning Japanese isn’t actually as hard as it’s often made out to be, but it’s still a very long process. It would take even the most dedicated student hours of study and practice every day for at least two years to become decently fluent in the language.
But if you want to become fluent enough to be able to write a resume, hold your own in an interview, and of course, work at a daily job in Japan, then chances are you’re going to have to actually go to Japan at some point.
Studying abroad if you’re in school is a great option, and perhaps taking some time off to teach English in Japan – even if it isn’t your ideal job – is at least a way to get over there and improve your language skills. Later, you can make the transition to what you actually want to do when you eventually…
#3. Get a job in Japan
All right, so if you’re pursuing the English-teaching route, then you have your bachelor’s degree, and you have your certification. And if you’re pursuing the other-job route, then you’ve presumably become completely fluent in Japanese.
Awesome! Now it’s time to apply for a job. If you’re going the English-teaching route, here’s just a small list of organizations you can apply to:
– JET (ALT, application in fall)
– AEON (eikaiwa, application year-round)
– Interac (ALT, application year-round)
– Berlitz (eikaiwa, application year-round)
– Altia Central (ALT, application in winter)
JET is the most prestigious and well-paying of the organizations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for everyone. If you want to work in a public school setting, then an ALT position would be best for you. If you want to work in a more professional/business setting that includes adults as students, then an eikaiwa position would be best for you.
If you’re pursuing the non-English-teaching route, then unfortunately there aren’t really any specific companies or organizations we can point you to. It completely depends on the field you want to pursue. Just like getting a job in your home country, you’ll need to do some research, talk to people, make friends, and then hope that they’re willing to hire someone from abroad and sponsor your work visa. Ganbatte!
#2. Obtain permanent residency or Japanese citizenship
警察を連れてまみーがきたから なになにって思ったら 外人に声かけて在留カードを みせてもらって不法滞在じゃないか チェックしてるんだって 僕は永住ビザだからはっはっはっは https://t.co/VJLdbZZmiM—
あんじぇろくん (@myprincessmiuuu) January 18, 2016
Congratulations! You’ve gotten a work visa, moved to Japan, and you’re now working there and living the dream.
But perhaps you want to go one step further. Maybe you don’t want your life in Japan to be dependent on whether or not you have a job. Maybe you want to switch jobs and not worry about the whole visa mess. In that case, you’ll either need to get permanent residency or Japanese citizenship.
Permanent residency allows you to live in Japan without fear of visa renewal or your company going under, but it can be very difficult to obtain. You can apply for it at your local immigration bureau, but there are many requirements: you need to have lived in Japanese consecutively for at least 10 years (not leaving for more than a few days at a time), have no criminal record, have a Japanese guarantor, and write a letter explaining the reason why you want permanent residence.
▼ The typical amount of paperwork for permanent residency.
There are shortcuts to permanent residency, but they all require significant contribution to Japan (as you can see on the Immigration Bureau’s website). You can technically apply for permanent residency after just five consecutive years in Japan, but English teachers are often denied after just that short time for “not contributing enough.”
The other route to staying in Japan forever is Japanese citizenship. In some cases getting Japanese citizenship is easier than permanent residency, but it requires you to burn the bridges behind you and renounce your previous citizenship. That means if you ever want to return to your home country, you will do so as a foreigner (and probably require a visa).
You can apply for Japanese citizenship at the closest bureau of legal affairs (homukyoku) to you that has a nationality section (kokusekika). To apply, you need to have lived in Japan for at least five years consecutively, have no criminal record, and be able to prove your financial stability. It is a long and complex process, but if being able to vote, hold office, or work as a civil servant (police, firefighter, JSDF) is your dream, then it’s the only way to go.
Of course, there’s a much, much easier way to shortcut all of this because…
The #1 step to immigrate to Japan is…
#1. Marry a Japanese citizen
If you want to leave your home country and move to Japan forever, there’s no easier way than marrying a Japanese citizen. You don’t need to find a job, you don’t even need to learn Japanese – you’ll get a spouse visa (which lets you work in most areas), and you can apply for permanent residency after just three years of marriage.
Of course, getting married is easier said than done. It’s probably not worth it to most people to have to live with someone you hate just to live in another country, especially if you end up divorcing. We recommend marrying for mutual companionship, shared interests/goals, and love – not just to get a shortcut to living in Japan.
But if you’re truly determined, then we’d recommend actually going to Japan to scope out spouses. Searching for people online is most likely just going to end up with you in a bad situation, but when you’re in Japan, you can treat looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend the same as you would in your home country.
One popular way to meet a potential partner in Japan is via a gokon – a sort of group blind date where a bunch of men and women come together at a bar or restaurant to meet for the first time. If that sounds intimidating, no worries, we’ve got you covered with tips on how to not blow your chances.
So study abroad, come over on a work visa, go to a few gokon, and keep an open mind about your future – you might just surprise yourself.
But please, don’t be that creepy person trying to mack on Japanese people just to get a spouse visa. We promise you that plan will fail, and you will just end up being known as “that weirdo” everyone does their best to avoid.
▼ Don’t be this guy. No one swipes right on this guy.
So there you have it, the top five steps to immigrate to Japan. Have you been making any plans to leave your home country? Let us know in the comments, and hey – don’t forget another benefit of moving to Japan: getting your own pet kabutomushi beetle.