Assessing travel and visa obligations in Japan

When traveling to Japan, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require work authorization. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.


Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Japan, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business meetings or seminars
  • Buy goods for sale outside the country
  • Tour a company facility

 

If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Japan?

Nationals of the European Union, United States, and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in Japan. Additionally, holders of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Cards (ABTC) may be eligible to enter Japan and engage in permissible business activities without obtaining a visa. If you are not eligible for visa-waivered entry, you must obtain a Temporary Visitor Visa from a Japanese Embassy or Consulate prior to travel.


Working in Japan

What types of activities require work authorization?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Japanese law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Japan, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Providing technical training.
  • Performing audits.
  • Providing service for machinery, computer software, or equipment.

In limited circumstances, business travelers may engage in specialized professional and technical activities, though an after-sales agreement and additional eligibility criteria may apply. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether a work authorization exemption is appropriate.

 

If I am traveling to Japan for work, what type of work authorization do I need?

The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in Japan. The most common categories of Japanese work-authorized statuses of residence are:

  • Business manager
  • Engineer/specialist in humanities/international services
  • Intra-company transferee
  • Highly skilled professional
  • Specified skilled worker
  • Skilled worker

 

Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

There are no work authorization exemptions based on nationality or specific industries in Japan.


What else should I know?

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.

 

Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.