Do you have to leave Japan to change your visa?
No you don't. It is a somewhat confusing issue because you will get different statements over the same issue depending on the source.
Some of the embassy and government websites say that if you come in on a tourist visa, you’ll need to leave Japan and then come back in on a Work Visa. Others don't.
You can change your visa status in Japan, but there is a catch. Because the process can take up to a month and a half or longer, a tourist visa that's only valid for 90 days can run out while you are waiting for your Work Visa. In that case, you'd have to leave Japan and return on another tourist visa while you wait for the Work Visa to be processed.
This happens often, and South Korea is a common choice for Japanese visa runs.
The process involves going to your local immigration office and submitting an “Application for Change of Status of Residence”.
Note that you'll usually be asked for a certificate of eligibility to transfer to a Work Visa.The Japanese Immigration website has a page describing what you’ll need to do this.
Can you change a Working Holiday Visa to a Work Visa in Japan?
Yes, you can. We hope it means that you are with a good employer, and happy to extend your stay in Japan.
Changing a Working Holiday Visa to Work Visa is the same as changing a tourist visa to Work Visa which is described above.
Can you change a tourist visa to a Work Visa in Japan?
Welcome to the first of the grey areas.
Why do this? Why not just get a Work Visa?
Why not take the easy option? Find a company to sponsor you abroad and come over on a Work Visa?
The problem is it’s far easier to get a job and search for jobs if you’re already in Japan. A reasonable number of the Japanese job adverts will require people applying to be in Japan. This then forces people into coming over outside of the ideal visa situation.
One important thing to be aware of is often adverts are looking for people who are in Japan and ready for work. If you're on a tourist visa you're in Japan, but you could still be up to two months away from being ready to work. Sometimes companies don’t want to wait the 1 -2 months it takes to get a visa processed and are looking for people who already have a Work Visa for Japan.
Let’s briefly cover what’s not grey. You can’t work on a tourist visa. It’s illegal: don’t do it. The greyer area is coming over to search for work on a tourist visa and then switching to a Work Visa.
It’s technically frowned upon to enter the country on a tourist visa to look for work. Of course this simply means that people don’t declare it. When they then find work, it brings them to the next question.
How to change a Working Holiday Visa to a Work Visa in Japan?
This is the same as changing a tourist visa to Work Visa which we described above, the process is the same and you can switch inside Japan.