An intra-company transferee visa is one of the working visa types and is meant for employees transferring to another office or branch of their company located in Japan. It can be a head or a branch office, representative office, or any other related specialized offices (marketing, sales, etc.). That being said, this visa is not meant for employees who are performing a simple manual labor, such as waiting tables, construction site works, massage therapy, working as a hairdresser, etc. If you wish to be engaged in such activities, consider applying for a working holiday visa. Transferee visa is meant for highly qualified workers in humanities or engineering areas.
Requirements and Prerequisites
While transferee visa is meant for the highly qualified workers, it is not the same as the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional Visa. Beside the fact that applicant is being assigned by the company to move to a Japan-based office and does not have to search for a company on their own, there are also other requirements:
- When in Japan, an applicant must work in one of two fields:
- Humanities/International Services: jurisprudence, sociology, economics, other human sciences or in areas where it is important to have a specific way of thinking and sensitivity when engaging in tasks suggesting communication with foreign cultures; or
- Engineering: engineering itself, physical science, technology, or other natural sciences.
- The transfer should be made for a limited period of time: 3 months, 1 year, 3 years or 5 years.
- When transferred, an applicant must be paid equally or more to what a Japanese worker in the same position would get. This is often called remuneration in legal papers. The average estimate would be around 200 000 yen per month or more.
- Before applying for a transferee visa an applicant must have been employed by his hosting organization for at least one year.
The hosting organization should be recognized as trustworthy, stable, and continuously operating.
Where to apply?
Application for the Certificate of Eligibility is done at the immigration office in Japan. If you reside outside of Japan at the moment of application, submission on your behalf can be done by a certified immigration specialist from the immigration office. Once you obtain your Certificate of Eligibility you can apply for your visa at the embassy or a consulate general.
Sometimes you can apply straight at the Japanese embassy or a consulate general. In this case, your certificate of eligibility and a status of residence will be handled simultaneously. Ask for detailed instructions from your local immigration office or an embassy/consulate general.
If you have confirmed that you satisfy the requirements for the transferee visa and that your job in Japan falls under the right category, the application procedure is very simple:
- Collect the necessary documents
- Apply for the Certificate of Eligibility at the immigration office
- Wait for the approval of your Certificate of Eligibility. You will be contacted when the decision has been made.
- When the Certificate of Eligibility is ready, apply for a status of residence at the embassy or a consulate general.
- Wait for your status of residency to be approved. You will be contacted when the decision has been made.
When you come to Japan you will be issued a Japan Residence Card that will contain your personal information, type of visa, your period of stay, and some other details. Keep this card with you at all times.
What documents do I need?
The exact set of documents depends on your current status and nationality. Below you will find a list of basic documents required for a transferee visa application. Nevertheless, we encourage you to always obtain the latest information regarding all the necessary documents from the immigration office, the embassy or a consulate where you will be making an application. Immigration service is also eligible to ask for more supporting documents from the applicants if it is required for making an informed decision.
Some of the documents you will need are but not limited to:
- A valid passport
- An application form (nationals of Russia, CIS countries, and Georgia must submit two application forms)
- A photograph (nationals of Russia, CIS countries, and Georgia must submit two photographs)
- The Certificate of Eligibility and its copy
- Documents proving applicants experience and qualifications:
- A resume
- Diploma(s) and/or graduation certificate(s)
- Certificate of employment
- Documents describing applicants occupation and type of work at the company
- Clarification of salary during the past year of employment at the hosting organization (one year before applying for a transferee visa)
- Documents proving applicants employment and its terms in Japan:
- An employment agreement, a contract, a letter of employment, a letter of appointment from the employer, etc.
- Clarification of the employment period
- Salary rate
- Documents describing the employer:
- Company leaflet or brochure
- Company overview
- A copy of the Company Registration Certificate
- Documents explaining the relationship between the employer and the Japan-based hosting company or organization
- Company’s financial statement of profit and loss
- For the newly founded companies: establishment notification of a salary paying office in Japan, a one-year business plan, pay slips for the Withholding Tax for the latest 3 months or an application for payment of the Withholding Income Tax on a semiannual.
Some exceptions regarding the necessary documents can be made for:
- Organizations listed in the stock exchange
- Organizations which can submit the latest “Withholding Records and Payment records” and organization’s total annual withholding tax there is more than 15 million yen.
Employees of such companies can apply for a transferee visa without the Certificate of Eligibility. However, it is highly advisable to consult the immigration official regarding such possibilities before applying for a visa. Remember also that the abovementioned certificates should be no older than 3 months after their issuing.
While not officially demanded by the law, it might be a good idea to submit your documents along with Japanese translations. It can positively influence the quality of your application and the processing speed.
What is the Certificate of Eligibility?
Certificate of Eligibility (hereinafter COE) is a document issued by the immigration office and proving that you comply with the requirements set for immigration. Once immigration office approves of your suitability for entering the country you can apply for a visa, which is also known as Status of Residence or SOR for short. Subsequently, COE is not a visa. It is a prerequisite for obtaining one.
You will not be able to enter Japan or engage in any activities there with COE, because you have to have your SOR confirmed first on a base of COE and other required documents. The list of required documents for COE can be obtained from an immigration office. Different occupations require different documents, but generally, the immigration office wants to assess your professional background.
How long does it take to obtain a transferee visa?
It will take around 4-6 weeks to receive your Certificate of Eligibility, and then another couple of weeks to exchange your Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence. Remember, that during those two weeks you will not be able to travel outside of Japan if you are applying in Japan.
Once you have obtained your status of residence, you need to remember to take care of the following issues:
- Paying your taxes in Japan. Quite often the company will automatically withhold the monthly taxes and handle the year-end adjustment tax in December. If you are being paid outside of Japan, you have to submit your return tax papers by March 15th of every year. There are no possibilities for extended payments in Japan. All the taxes should be paid in time in order to avoid further problems with the visa prolongation or possible revoking of your transferee visa.
- Paying taxes in your home county. If you have any tax obligations in the country of your citizenship while you are living in Japan, you have to comply with those, too.
- Paying taxes when leaving Japan. Your Japanese taxes will be assessed based on your residential location in Japan by the January 1st of each year. You must take care of all the payments before leaving. You can also appoint a tax agent to handle this task.
In many cases, a holder of a transferee visa may be able to save on their taxes if the employer can cover some of the work-related expenses. For example, housing, commuting, home leave, etc. Secondly, one can also save on taxes from the off-shore compensation payments if a transferee spends some time doing business outside Japan. Be sure to discuss these details with your employer before signing any finalized contracts for your visa application. Finally, remember that leaving the country before the 1st of January when the financial year starts over may also significantly lower your tax payment amounts.
Intra-company transferee visa is meant for people who are transferred to the Japan-based branches of their companies for a maximum of 5 years. As it usually goes with all the working visas, transferee visa allows its holder to engage in the activities covered by the scope of this visa type: humanities/international services or engineering.
Beside the area of professional occupation, it is important that the hosting company is recognized as stable and trustworthy by the immigration service, meaning they have a solid reputation of good conduct and can pay the transferee a salary that is equal or higher than that of a Japanese employee in the same position.
Intra-Company Transferee Visa FAQ
Can I stay in Japan after the expiration of my transferee visa?
Yes, but you will have to apply for an extension of your status of residence 2 months prior to the visa expiration date.
Can travel outside of Japan with the transferee visa?
Yes, but you need to have a re-entry permit to be able to travel in and out of Japan. If you leave the country without such re-entry permit, you will not be able to enter Japan again and will have to get a new visa.
Application process seems to be difficult. Can someone help me with it?
You can ask for assistance from a certified immigration specialist from the immigration office. They might help you with the paperwork and submit your applications on your behalf as proxies.
Do I need to be proficient in Japanese language?
This requirement will be determined by your employer. Being able to communicate in Japanese at least at the basic level will widen your pool of possibilities in many regards: it is easier to establish interpersonal connections, communicate with coworkers, clients, and locals. In general, English language skills are not so widespread in Japan. If you speak neither Japanese nor English, finding your way in Japan may be extremely hard. Try to find out if you’re company may be willing and able to provide you a language training or assist in finding an appropriate language course.
What should I keep in mind when going to Japan?
Remember that cultural differences do exist. The everyday surrounding, work ethics, perception of time, personal space, and behavior may differ significantly from your own country. For example, being late for work or wearing shoes inside the house is not acceptable in Japan. Dedicate some time to research the areas you are about to enter and prepare to adjust yourself to those.
It is normal to experience a cultural shock at some point, even if you have studied the language and country for a significant period of time. Living in Japan is not the same as reading about it. Stay open to your surroundings and observe it carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance if you are not sure what to do.