moving to Japan

Best Ways to Live in Japan Without a Degree

The thought of moving to and working in Japan is rather exciting. In most circumstances, however, you must have at least a Bachelor’s Degree to obtain a permanent visa. If you have not earned a Bachelor’s Degree, there are a few ways to get around this requirement.

These are the best ways you can obtain a permanent visa without higher education in Japan:

Some of these solutions are only a short-term solution to the problem. Fortunately, qualifying for a permanent visa and being able to get your foot in the door is the most difficult step in this process. If you have strong Japanese skills, especially an extensive and thorough understanding of the Japanese language and mannerisms, one of these options may just be a movie you can take and get to Japan!

Living in Japan as a Foreigner

New Visa for Qualifying Specified Skilled Workers

Effective from April 2019, Japan has offered a new working visa for those with specific skilled labor. Fourteen Industries are eligible to receive this new visa. These industries are:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Aviation
  3. Cleaning buildings
  4. Construction
  5. Electronics and electrical equipment
  6. Fishing
  7. Food and banqueting (restaurants)
  8. Food and drink manufacturing
  9. Hospitality (hotels, etc)
  10. Industrial machinery
  11. Materials industry
  12. Nursing
  13. Shipbuilding
  14. Vehicular maintenance

You can read more about it here.

Apply to a Japanese University as a Student

This solution is short term. However, if you are successful, you are solving the core problem, as you will have obtained your bachelor’s degree. The application and acceptance process into a Japanese University is very competitive. For a foreigner to study at a Japanese University, they must have a valid passport, a high school diploma along with references from teachers, and proof of financial ability to live in Japan.

Japanese Universities can cost up to one million yen (roughly $10,000USD). Scholarships can also be applied for and you may work, though no more than 28 hours per week.

Study in Japan

Apply for a “Working Holiday” Visa

“Working Holiday” Visa is offered for 26 countries only. These 26 countries are:

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Canada
  4. Republic of Korea
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. The United Kingdom
  8. Ireland
  9. Denmark
  10. Taiwan
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Norway
  13. Portugal
  14. Poland
  15. Slovakia
  16. Austria
  17. Hungary
  18. Spain
  19. Argentina
  20. Chile
  21. Iceland
  22. Czech
  23. Lithuania
  24. Sweden
  25. Estonia 
  26. Netherlands

If you are lucky enough to live in one of the twenty-six countries that Japan offers a “Working Holiday Visa” to, this is another, albeit short term way to move to Japan. To qualify, the person has to be between ages 18 and 30, no criminal record, no dependents, and also have the financial ability to live and return back home.

This year may grant you the ability to find a job in Japan, but it is usually used for a long-term tourism trip. Unfortunately, you can only be granted a work visa once in your lifetime, but the hours you are permitted to work are unlimited, increasing the odds of finding a job. The Japanese government has made the working holiday’s visa process easier as compared to other options.

Self-Sponsorship as an Investor or Business Owner

Business Manager Living in Japan

If you own your own business, there is hope for you to acquire an office in Japan. There is a lot of tough paperwork involved in this process, but no degree is necessary. For one, you must have a physical office located in Japan. Working out of your home is not an option. You must have 5 million Yen in Capital to support your business and offer your services.

You also must have a thorough and detailed business plan to qualify for self-sponsorship. If the finances are available and the business plan is strong, this could open many opportunities for you and qualify you for a working visa.

The immigration process is not very complicated however, be ready to go through a lot of documentation. Becasue in this process not only you but your business is also moving to Japan.

Intra-Company Transfer

This is one of the easiest ways to move to Japan without having a degree. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company in your home country that has an office based in Japan, you can apply for a company transfer. Currently, the only accepted occupations are Engineering, Humanities, or International Services. You must have been employed for at least one year with your company.

Fortunately, you also have to be paid as much as a Native Japanese worker would be paid, or more. Fees for this Visa vary between 80,000 Yen and 160,000 Yen (plus tax) based on the Company’s profits. This is considered one of the easiest ways to move to Japan. Your relocation cost will also be zero as your Company is handling everything. The immigration process for intracompany transfer is easier.

Qualify for a “Spousal Visa”

Marrying is one of the ways to get a permanent visa in Japan

As easy as it sounds, getting a Spousal Visa is actually a very difficult process. There is a lot of paperwork involved in acquiring a spousal visa. The immigration process takes more time and the embassy needs more details. The first step is to request a “Certificate of Eligibility.” To avoid fraudulent activity, the couple must have pictures of each other as proof they are a couple.

At least two or three pictures are standard. The immigration office will also want the story of how the couple met, details of the wedding and family, and also the witness’ contact information. Processing takes between one and three months from the immigration bureau, and renewal may be necessary.

Curate an In-Depth Plan for the Future

So, worst comes to worst, and none of these options seem ideal, especially not in the present time. That’s okay! If you don’t have anything else, you have time. Find a job in humanities that does have an office in Japan. Find a trade that doesn’t involve getting a Bachelor’s Degree.

Repair and maintenance work might not be something you’re considering right now, but it’s a need and you’ll never know if you’re good at it if you don’t try it out. If nothing else, start saving money. An opportunity may arise and you will want to jump on it. Moving internationally is expensive and you can start preparing now.

To learn more and apply for visa in the Japan’s immigration site click here

Important Questions about Moving to Japan, Especially if you Don’t Have a Degree:

Moving to Japan

So What is the Simplest Way to Move to Japan Without A Degree?

Finding the simplest way into Japan without a degree depends on your personal circumstances. There are caveats with every option. If you have the skills, the “Specialized Skilled Worker” Visa might be the fit for you. Transferring from your current job, if an option, could also be one of the easier ways to move to Japan.

Competition in Japanese Universities is tough, “Working Holidays” may not even be available in your country, and Self-Sponsorship involves owning a company, for one, and intricate details for Japan to even consider. Also, it is not advised to marry someone just to qualify for a Visa.

How much money is necessary for being financially able to live?

This is a very important question. Considering being a student or taking a “working holiday” each has the requirement of being able to support yourself financially. Not to mention, if you want to move to Japan, you will have to pay your rent and utilities and buy yourself food and other necessities. For an exact amount, however, that is determined by your lifestyle.

Living further from a train station and in a rural area will cost you much less, but rent in an upper-class area of Tokyo can cost you up to 200,000 Yen monthly! Also, everybody pays towards medical insurance, however, the benefits are good.

What Else Should I Know?

Keep in mind that getting a Visa, no matter the kind, is a lengthy process. Give yourself a few months for the application process. Also, anticipate a language barrier. Japanese is a language very different from English, and while it isn’t impossible (you’re doing the “impossible” if you use this list!), it may be VERY difficult until you get acclimated.

Finally, whether you plan on moving within a few months because of your job, or you plan on moving in ten years on Specialized Skills, start saving money now. Japan is an island country, which means many goods must be imported. Japan is currently facing a labor shortage for several industries, due to the aging population and low birth rate.

So, there is an opportunity for foreigners to get working visa and settle down in a country which is famous for low crime rate and high development.

Working in Japan without the right permit is prohibited, and travel visas are only good for three months. So, while you may travel to Japan, not in search of employment, you cannot live there (assuming you must work for a living) without the proper visa. As mentioned earlier, a Bachelor’s Degree can qualify for a Visa, except in these tricky, but doable, circumstances.

With enough hard work, skills, money, and motivation, moving to Japan is not impossible, and actually can be reasonably done. Granted, it may not be the fastest approach but is absolutely not out of the realm of possibility.

Eli Civil

A software engineer, entrepreneur, and Japanese culture enthusiast. I travel the world while working from my laptop and try to visit Japan as often as I can. About Eli Civil

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