Generally, international students are not encouraged to stay in Japan after their studies end, even if they still have a few months left on their Japan student visa. Those who aspire to work in Japan are therefore recommended to start looking for jobs (and hopefully, find one) before they graduate.

Fortunately, the ministry of justice started including foreign students who are actively looking for jobs, and want to continue their search after graduation, into the list of people eligible to stay in Japan under the “Designated Activities” (特定活動) status of residence. Therefore, if you could not secure a job before you graduate from university, you can get a second chance to extend your stay and continue your job search. Here’s what you need to know about this job hunting visa everyone is talking about.

1. You need to graduate from a university, vocational school, or technical college in Japan

The “Designated Activities” status for job hunting only applies to those who are attending or have recently graduated from educational institutions in Japan. Although full-time university students are eligible for job hunting visa, exchange students are generally not included.

2. Looking for jobs BEFORE graduation is a must

In order to qualify for job hunting visa, it is necessary to prove that you have tried your best to look for jobs before you graduate from your educational institution. Since most students in Japan start looking for jobs in their final year of school, it is not only necessary for your visa application, but also useful for your overall job hunting experience. Don’t be fooled by the possibilities of obtaining job hunting visa and take your last year of school for granted – you wouldn’t want to miss out on countless recruiting events specially organized for students in their senior year.

3. Job hunting visa can only be renewed once

The job-hunting visa is typically 6 months long, with the possibility of being renewed once. However, this does not guarantee that renewal requests are always granted. Once you obtained your “Designated Activities” status, better aim to get job offers within the six-month period.

4. A recommendation letter from the school is required

The document requirements for university students and those attending technical colleges and vocational schools may vary. However, regardless of the type of schools you attend, a recommendation letter is always on the list. (To check out the official required document lists, visit Japan’s Ministry of Justice website here.) As different schools have different procedures for obtaining the recommendation letter, it is best to consult with your school officials.

5. Give yourself plenty of time for the visa-related procedures

As with any kind of visa application, it is best to start early to save yourself from unnecessary stress later on. Generally, visa renewal or change of status procedure can be started three months before the expiration current visa. Documents such as recommendation letter can also be obtained within this three-month window. Once all necessary documents are acquired, make sure to spare some time for document submission at the immigration centre. The wait can be pretty long, up to a few hours!

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