Sponsoring a Teacher Visa in Japan Part 2

Wait, that was it?

approved stamp

As Trevor rightly pointed out in Part 1, applying for a visa as an English teacher doesn’t really involve sponsorship, but I wanted to keep the title the same for the second post. More accurately we could describe the process as ‘supplying the necessary documents to prove a viable job offer to a teacher applying for a Specialist in Humanities visa’.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to the immigration office with our prospective new teacher (not necessary, we just wanted someone there from the school in case there were any problems with the paperwork). We took the following paperwork with us:

From the school:

  1. copy of the school’s tax return (as it is a personal business)
  2. copy of the pamphlet
  3. explanation of the school
  4. copy of the teacher’s contract
  5. <we missed something>

From the teacher:

  1. passport
  2. zairyu card
  3. photos
  4. revenue stamps
  5. application form
  6. resume

We went straight to reception and talked to a very pleasant lady who checked our documents and gave us a number. After about half an hour a case officer called us up. She was unsmiling and serious until she looked at our application, then she relaxed and started smiling. I took that as a good sign.

First of all she said we were applying very early (six weeks before our new teacher’s current visa runs out) to which we replied of course that we wanted to make sure we could deal with any problems in good time.

It turns out we had forgotten to fill in the 3rd-4th pages of the application form (the school has to fill this in and stamp it), and the case officer also wanted a copy of our teacher’s current employment certificate (jirei). We could send both documents by post within the following couple of weeks. Then she said we could go.

And that was it. Very painless, even with us having messed up the paperwork.

Last week our teacher emailed me saying the notification postcard had arrived, and the visa could be collected on the first working day of August. A huge relief and a big milestone for our school: first teacher visa enabled!

Please post any questions or anecdotes in the comments below.

13 Jul 2015, 11:07pm
by Yoshio Akazawa


Congratulations, Ben. I help Cynthia Akazawa’s English school hire overseas instructors.

Please note that the visa for JETs and private English school teachers (instructors) are different. Therefore I assume what you did to the former JET was to change his/her visa status. In my experience this was much easier and faster than getting a letter of eligibility for a instructor who wants to newly come to Japan.

Well, it is understandable that many foreign school owners have difficulty with the bureaucratic language used in the visa process because even I sometimes have problems, and I am Japanese. If you try to be humble and meek, or at least if you try not to be argumentative, you will be all right, I think. Just ask if you are not sure of something. After all, they are there to help you.

I can imagine you wearing a grey suit with a red tie to the immigration office, just as you do when you give presentations at conferences. That communicates a strong message to the bureaucrats that you are taking them seriously, don’t you think?

Hi Yoshio

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I can imagine getting a new visa for people outside Japan must be harder than getting a visa changed (which is indeed what we did).

I abandoned my suit and tie, but I did have a white shirt and the all-important notebook ready 🙂

I hate arguing with bureaucrats, but I seem to be quite good at it based on my results so far. My wife always sends me into action when we run into difficult people. Thankfully this time there were no difficulties at all. I was expecting a much less pleasant experience.

How much do the applications cost? And any other fees? How about renewing a visa? With and without an immigration lawyer. Not being able to confirm the costs is my main obstacle because that will determine if it’s worth it. Any guidance on this would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Jinhan

We didn’t hire a lawyer, just dealt with the immigration office directly. I get the feeling for most visa paperwork in Japan you don’t need a lawyer. The cost to the teacher for the application was a few thousand yen. Can’t remember the exact number…


Great posts! Really helpful stuff. Really appreciate it.

Just a quick question, does the instructor have to be making a certain amount of money for them to get sponsored?

I hear that at GABA, unless the instructor makes 250,000 or something like that, they won’t get sponsored.

Any advice or expertise would help. Thanks!

Hi Jon

As far as I know, the specialist in humanities visa (the one eikaiwa teachers need) used to have a minimum salary amount. I believe it was 250,000 yen a month.

That was removed several years ago and the current guidelines just state that the employee must have enough to live on. Exactly how much money this requires is left to the discretion of the immigration officer dealing with the case. I certainly know of people making much less than 250,000 on visas.

Hope that helps!


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