Updated December 18, 2023
Japan’s Intra-Company Transferee Visa: The Ultimate Guide
Do you work at a multinational company? Are you interested in transferring to your company’s Japan office?
If so, you may be in luck. The first step in your journey to move to Japan will be obtaining an intra-company transferee visa.
This special visa allows a foreign professional to transfer to their company's Japan branch. However, not everyone realizes this is an option (it's not as well known as other work and student visas).
In this post, I’ll dive into the intra-company transferee visa in Japan. I'll cover who qualifies for it and how you can get one. I’ll guide you through the process step-by-step and answer some tax questions that might come up with your move.
So, let's start by breaking down what an intra-company transferee visa in Japan actually is.
In this article: 📝
In this article: 📝
Intra-Company Transferee Visa, Demystified
The intra-company transferee visa is a special kind of visa that allows employees of multinational companies to relocate to their company’s offices in other countries, in this case, Japan.
This visa is commonly used for managers, executives, or employees with specific expertise or specialized knowledge about the company’s inner workings. Instead of recruiting someone new, companies can use this visa to move their existing employees where they're needed.
The intra-company transferee visa facilitates the sharing of skills and expertise within a company, ensuring uniform standards and operations across all international locations.
What's more, it also offers significant benefits by enabling operational continuity for the company while providing international exposure and career opportunities for employees.
What Sets The Intra-Company Transferee Visa Apart
Still, this visa type is different from regular work visas or the highly skilled professional visa and has different eligibility prerequisites and requirements. While we’re on the topic, you can check out my post about getting a Japanese visa as an engineer if you’d like to learn more about the various visa options available.
Perhaps the biggest difference that sets the intra-company transferee visa apart from other typical long-term visas (like the ones in the post I shared above) is that this visa doesn’t require any academic background.
As it’s issued on the basis that you’re employed at the company, the intra-company transferee visa allows the company to invite employees over regardless of their academic background.
The Pros and Cons: Intra-Company Transferee Visa
One of the biggest advantages of applying for an intra-company-transferee visa is the fact that you’re already employed and don’t need a job contract from Japan to get the visa. Your contract with your company will suffice.
What’s more, in the case of a “Technical/Humanities/International Services” visa, either a university degree or more than 10 years of work experience is required. This isn’t the case for the intra-company transferee visa, as the employee only needs to be employed for at least one year prior to the assignment to another country in a specific position of the branch or the head office.
That being said, this visa type isn’t without certain limitations that may feel restricting to some.
For starters, one of the biggest potential downsides of coming to Japan with an intra-company transferee visa is that you’re only able to work at the specific branch/office you’re transferred to.
This means that even if you find a job and sign a contract with a Japanese company during your stay here, it won’t be possible to change your job with the “transfer” status of residence you receive with the transferee visa.
Lastly, another “con” or potential hassle that comes with this visa type is that it requires documentation proving the capital relationship between the Japanese office/branch and the overseas company. In some cases, this can negate the ease that comes with not needing a job contract from Japan.
Who’s Eligible for the Intra-Company Transferee Visa?
Japan’s intra-company transferee visa caters to highly skilled professionals, but as I said, it’s not to be confused with the highly skilled professional visa. The uniqueness of this visa type lies in its specific requirements and targeted professional fields.
In terms of professional fields, the eligibility for the intra-company transferee visa extends to two primary areas: engineering and humanities & international sciences. This means that the activities that can be carried out with this visa type are the same as those with an Engineer, specialist in humanities, and international services visas.
Engineering as a field covers a wide range of occupations, including software engineers, IT project managers, system engineers, and specialists in game design/programming. This means that those working in higher-up or specialized positions in the Tech industry are generally eligible.
Humanities and international sciences covers an even larger number of professions as it’s more generalized. This encompasses positions in economics, sociology, jurisprudence, and other jobs that fall under the umbrella of human sciences.
Additionally, it includes positions that demand a unique approach to tasks involving foreign cultures. For instance, financial advisors, legal professionals, human resources managers, and accounting analysts all fall under this category.
That being said, there are additional specific criteria that applicants who work in one of the specified fields must meet.
Minimum work experience: Candidates must have been employed by their current employer for at least one year before they can be eligible for an intra-company transferee visa.
Industry-average salary: Employees to be transferred need to earn at least as much as those who work in the same position in Japan. This is different for every position, so make sure to check this according to individual jobs.
Fixed duration of stay: For a candidate to be eligible, their assignment in Japan must be for a fixed term of three months, one year, three years, or five years, and has to have a definitive end date.
For non-managerial, non-administrative roles: If the employee is in a managerial or administrative role (corporate executives (役員, Yakuin) and is transferring to manage an office/branch in Japan, a different visa called a “Management/Administration Visa” needs to be obtained instead.
All About the Certificate of Eligibility
The Certificate of Eligibility is perhaps the most important document you’ll need for your visa application.
Simply put, this is a document issued by the immigration authority that states that the candidate meets the required criteria for obtaining the visa.
Unlike the visa application, The Certificate of Eligibility is issued by the local immigration office where your branch is located and is obtained by the branch that will be receiving you. That being said, you might have to submit additional documents if requested by the immigration office.
Here are the documents the immigration office generally requires to determine your eligibility:
Company Documentation: A detailed overview of your employer, including a company leaflet or brochure, company registration certificate, and financial statements of the company branch in Japan where the employee will be transferred.
Proof of Company Affiliation: Documentation clarifying the relationship between your employer and the Japan-based host branch/office.
In addition to these, if your company is a newly established one, the immigration office may request the company’s financial plans and other relevant documents to be extra diligent.
Generally, obtaining the certificate can take about 4 to 6 weeks once the application is made, but it can easily take even longer, and there’s no need to worry if it does.
Also, keep in mind that getting an approved certificate of eligibility doesn’t mean that your entry is approved or that your visa is guaranteed. This is simply a document showing that you’re indeed eligible as you claim to be, allowing you to carry on with your visa application process.
The Visa Requirements and Documents Needed
Those who meet the eligibility criteria need to prepare a list of documents to obtain the intra-company transferee visa. The list is pretty ordinary as far as visa documents go, but I’ll still provide explanations for items that may not seem clear at first glance or have exceptions.
Here are the required documents for the Japanese intra-company transferee visa:
Application form: Applicants of Russian, CIS countries, and Georgian nationalities need to submit two application forms. You can download the form from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Visa Application Documents website.
Photographs: Applicants of Russian, CIS countries, and Georgian nationalities need to submit two photographs.
Certificate of eligibility: This document should be submitted in two copies and should be no older than three months.
Resume or curriculum vitae
Educational certificates: This simply means your diplomas or other graduation documents.
Proof of employment: This includes your employment agreement, other documents detailing your role and salary, and how long you’ve been employed at the company.
While these are the base documents you need to prepare, if you meet certain special conditions, you may be subject to exceptions.
Special Exceptions Regarding The Necessary Documents
While the Certificate of Eligibility is regarded as the most crucial document for obtaining this visa, you may not need it in some exceptional scenarios.
For one, if you’re working at a very well-known multinational corporation, you may be exempted from having to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. This also applies to employees who work at stock-exchange-listed companies.
That being said, this is, of course, an exception that’s decided on a case-by-case basis. If you think the abovementioned scenario applies to you, you should contact the immigration authority to make sure that you can apply without the certificate.
Also, just as you can be exempted from documents like this one, you may also be required to submit additional documentation depending on your nationality. For instance, Chinese nationals are required to submit a copy of their registration from the Chinese Family Registry.
If you want to play it safe and make sure everything goes smoothly, you can contact your local embassy/consulate to find out about the specific requirements for each country.
Finally, throughout the process of obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility, you may be asked to submit additional documents for a more thorough assessment. Keep in mind that this is normal and that the process can take longer than expected.
The Application Process: Getting Your Visa
If you’ve successfully made it this far, you’ll find the actual application process a breeze, as there’s not much to do.
Now that your documents are ready, here’s a straightforward roadmap to guide you through the application process.
Check your documents: Make sure all the documents outlined above are accurately assembled and there are enough copies of documents where multiple copies are required. Submitting an incomplete application can end up extending the process, and even get your application rejected.
Obtain the Certificate of Eligibility: You can do this prior to everything as well.
Submit your application: Contact your local embassy to make an appointment or show up during work hours if that’s how the consulate/embassy operates.
Wait for your application to be approved: As long as all documents are correct and you comply with the requirements, your application is usually processed within two weeks.
Get your status of residence (SOR) upon arrival: Once you get to Japan, you’ll obtain your residence card proving your Status of Residence so you can legally get settled in the country.
While this is usually how the process goes, the last step can change under certain conditions.
Usually, applicants enter Japan after they obtain their visa, but some people can already be in Japan at the time of receiving their Certificate of Eligibility due to a visa waiver program or if they have a short-term visa that allows entry into the country.
If this is the case, you can also apply at the local immigration office in Japan, but keep in mind that during the two-week-long processing period, you won’t be able to travel outside of the country.
Simple as that! Now that you know how to obtain your visa, let’s talk about some additional points of concern that may arise regarding your stay in Japan.
After Arrival: Handling Tax-Related Issues
Your visa journey will come to an end once you arrive in Japan and receive your residence status. Still, there are some things you need to be aware of to avoid facing potential tax-related issues.
First off, once you start working here, your regular monthly taxes will be paid out of your salary automatically. More specifically, the company withholds a portion of each month’s salary as tax and handles your year-end tax adjustments in December accordingly.
For more information on these taxes, you can read my post on year-end tax adjustments, where I explain the system in more detail.
That being said, if you’re getting paid from outside of Japan and not the Japanese branch you’re working at, you’ll have to file for your tax returns yourself each year you’re staying in Japan before March 15th of the next year.
Keep in mind that while some countries may allow tax-related debts to be settled in installments, Japan is very strict in this regard. Not handling your taxes on time can easily get you in trouble.
Another point to remember is to take care of everything tax-related before you leave Japan. I talked about this extensively in my leaving Japan post, but while it’s not a concern for income tax, your resident taxes can depend heavily on whether you leave the country before or after January 1st.
Alternatively, if you’re unable to take care of things before you leave, make sure to appoint a tax agent or accountant to handle it for you. You can check out my post on the best foreigner-friendly accounting firms to find one right away.
Other Tax Concerns and Must-Knows
This may sound like a no-brainer, but during your stay in Japan as a national of another country, your tax responsibilities in your home country may still continue in certain cases.
So, while this isn’t super common, you may still want to check with a tax advisor from your homeland to be prepared and have peace of mind during your stay in Japan.
Another point to keep in mind when it comes to Japan and taxes is that as an intra-company transferee, you can save quite a lot on your taxes if you’re being compensated for work-related expenses, like housing expenses in the country of transfer or commute costs.
Lastly, as I previously stated, even if it doesn’t affect your income tax or other taxes, your due amount for resident taxes is calculated based on where you are on January 1st. So, it will be in your best interest to plan your departure from the country before the first day of the coming year.
Regarding Re-Entry Permits and Extensions
While the intra-company transferee visa can grant you the status of residency for the set periods of three months, one year, three years, or five years, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be extended once the initial period runs out.
While an extension isn’t too big of a deal and can be handled rather easily by applying at your local immigration office, it’s important to apply before your current visa expires.
I recommend taking the waiting times into consideration and applying as soon as you can to allow for some buffering time.
Also, if you need to leave Japan for a while and are planning to return before your visa expires, you can fill out an application for re-entry at your local immigration office.
You need to do this before you leave, and if your visa expires before your return, you’ll, unfortunately, have to reapply for a new visa.
While this is all I have to share on the intra-company transferee visa, if you want to keep your options open and be able to change jobs, it may not be the best option for you. If that’s the case, make sure to check out my post on getting a Japanese visa as an engineer to find out about all of the other visa options available.
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