How to change jobs in Japan
1. Important Procedures Regarding Japanese Work Visas
When considering changing jobs as a foreigner in Japan, it's crucial to check your residence status, which is directly related to your ability to stay if you hold a work visa.
Work visas in Japan come with durations of one, three, or five years, and those with these visas are allowed to change jobs freely during their permitted stay. Here's an explanation of the steps to take when deciding to change jobs:
2. What happens to your Work Visa when changing jobs?
Your work visa remains the same and retains the same validity as before when you change jobs. Your work visa status does not change when you switch employers, as long as your new job falls within a similar field as your previous one.
If your new job is entirely different, you will need to submit additional documentation to the Immigration Bureau of Japan to adjust your residency status. For example, if you were working as an English teacher and are now a software engineer, your new job may fall outside the scope of your existing foreign resident status, so you must undergo the necessary status change.
During the job search and recruitment process with your new employer, make sure they are aware of your current work visa status and how to make adjustments if needed.
3. What documents need to be submitted when changing jobs?
You must submit the necessary paperwork by postal mail to the Immigration Bureau of Japan within 14 days of changing your employment. Your new employer should assist you in submitting the application and providing the required information, but it's essential to be proactive and consult with your new HR department as early as possible.
If you resign from your current job before securing a new one, you must notify the Immigration Bureau twice: first when you resign and again when you obtain a new job. Individuals with unemployed work visas have three months to find new employment. Failure to do so could result in the revocation of your residence status in Japan.
4. Can I change jobs without a work visa?
If you are allowed to work in Japan, you can still change jobs even if you have a different type of visa than a work visa. For instance, if you are a permanent resident of Japan, holding a spouse or child visa, or have a long-term residence status, you are not bound by a work visa and have more freedom when changing jobs. You are not required to report job changes to the Immigration Bureau.
5. Some Considerations When Changing Jobs in Japan
Japan has a unique work culture centered around loyalty and dedication to one company, with stability often prioritized over rapid personal career development and job changes. While this perspective is evolving, job-hopping is still less common compared to some other countries.
Though the mindset is shifting, Japanese society values staying with a single company throughout one's career, often referred to as "lifetime employment." In 2019, research showed that about 7.8% of people aged 23-34 and 4.7% of those aged 45-54 changed professions within that year.
The low numbers and different societal values in Japan make it prudent and cautious when seeking a new job. If your plans to change are revealed too early before your final day, you may find your last days at your old company challenging.
Aside from your prospective employer, those reviewing your resume may also inquire about your job changes and their frequency. It's generally recommended to stay at least three years in a job in Japan before making a transition. However, there's no exact timeframe or method for changing careers or employers, and only you will know when it's time to try something new.