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Options for moving to Japan (Same-sex relationship)

kikuchi15

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I'm in a committed relationship with a Japanese national who is of the same-sex as me, and he currently lives in the Tokyo area. We've discussed for awhile the feasibility of either him moving to me (I'm in the USA) or the opposite. Frankly, it seems more feasible that I move to Japan, as his English ability is somewhat limited and I don't see what kinds of job opportunities he could receive in the US if I sponsored him for a spousal visa (now possible in the US for same-sex couples). Also, I've wanted to live in Japan for a while, long before I met him (I've visited Japan six times), and I don't really like living in the United States. At minimum, I could work as an English teacher if I came to Japan.

A little bit about me:
  • I graduated with a BA in 2015 (social sciences/meaningless field)
  • I've been working at an IT company in America for about one year now (I'm not a software engineer/coder, I do functional tasks like quality assurance/testing/release documentation).
  • Current salary is around 60k USD
  • I have basic Japanese ability (one year of university studies)
  • I do not have teaching experience
As of now, it looks like there is no way for me to get a spousal visa from a same-sex Japanese partner (I've read that some foreign same-sex couples have had success in getting a dependent/"other" type of visa, but not in the case when one partner is Japanese)

So basically I'm looking for other ways that I can get to Japan. I applied to some English conversation schools/ALTs job, but none of the ones that accept overseas applications were offering positions in the Tokyo area (a MUST given that I'm moving primarily to be with my partner). I'm considering two options:
  1. Move to Tokyo on a tourist visa, rent a room in a sharehouse and attempt to land a teaching job in the Tokyo area and switch to a work visa. Downside of this option is that I'm rushed and if I don't find anything, I'll have quit my job in the US for nothing.
  2. *more likely option*, I'm going to apply to a Japanese language school in Tokyo which will sponsor me for a student visa (12-16 months), and use my savings to live and study the language intensively. I hope that this would allow me to pass the JLPT at the N2 level (so I can attempt to get a similar IT job), or AT MINIMUM give me the sufficient time I need to secure an English teaching position in the Tokyo area that will change me to a work visa. The downside of this option is that it will likely burn through all the savings I have. I just feel like it's better option for eventually pulling myself out of English teaching in the long term.
I've accepted that to get my foot in the door in Japan, I will need to take a significant downgrade in my quality of life/salary/work etc.

Does anyone hear have any additional advice for me given my situation and what I've explained above about the options I'm considering? Your help is much appreciated. Thanks!
 

cocoichi

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I've accepted that to get my foot in the door in Japan, I will need to take a significant downgrade in my quality of life/salary/work etc.

Does anyone hear have any additional advice for me given my situation and what I've explained above about the options I'm considering? Your help is much appreciated. Thanks!

You wouldn't be the first one doing it this way. I have met quite a few guys/girls that started as teachers to live with their same sex partner, or met them while teaching.

Downgrade in quality of life? You get to live/be close to your boyfriend!
Before I got married to my wife and brought her to Holland, I was able to save 1000+ Euro per month, drink 3 nights a week and go on nice intercontinental vacations 3 times a year. Now I rent an expensive apartment with more room, pay for her health insurance, our food, and basically all other things. Guess what, I wouldn't go back to my previous life of wealth and fun if I could. She's worth it.
However, if you really feel everything besides the boyfriend is a downgrade, you should really be sure you want to sacrifice your current life for him. You can't play the "I gave everything up for you" card everytime you guys have a fight.

Maybe I took your words too serious, but at least make sure you are "gladly" giving it up to be with him, or will also be happy with a teaching in Japan adventure in case your relationship does not work out. I think this will help you in the long run.
 

madphysicist

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Re: option 2, have you checked for any scholarships that are available to learn Japanese? or even to study something else while you learn Japanese in your spare time? If you dig around you might find something that applies to you. See here for example (though most of these are for undergrad students):
Study Abroad in Japan: Financial Aid for Study in Japan | American Association of Teachers of Japanese
This might at least ease the "burning through savings" aspect.

I notice you said "rent a room in a sharehouse" not "live with my partner" - is he not in a position where he can support you at all financially, or offer you a place to stay? Have you talked to him about exactly what support he can give you if you move? Because it seems like you're planning on taking on the whole financial burden as well as the stress of moving countries, and you don't want that to become a source of resentment later on.
 

kikuchi15

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You wouldn't be the first one doing it this way. I have met quite a few guys/girls that started as teachers to live with their same sex partner, or met them while teaching.

Downgrade in quality of life? You get to live/be close to your boyfriend!
Before I got married to my wife and brought her to Holland, I was able to save 1000+ Euro per month, drink 3 nights a week and go on nice intercontinental vacations 3 times a year. Now I rent an expensive apartment with more room, pay for her health insurance, our food, and basically all other things. Guess what, I wouldn't go back to my previous life of wealth and fun if I could. She's worth it.
However, if you really feel everything besides the boyfriend is a downgrade, you should really be sure you want to sacrifice your current life for him. You can't play the "I gave everything up for you" card everytime you guys have a fight.

Maybe I took your words too serious, but at least make sure you are "gladly" giving it up to be with him, or will also be happy with a teaching in Japan adventure in case your relationship does not work out. I think this will help you in the long run.

Yeah, I was strictly speaking in a monetary sense when I said quality of life (I should have wrote "purchasing power"). I just wanted to say that to pre-empt any responses such as "You realize you aren't going to make as much money if you do this, right?"

I fully realize that :).
 

kikuchi15

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Re: option 2, have you checked for any scholarships that are available to learn Japanese? or even to study something else while you learn Japanese in your spare time? If you dig around you might find something that applies to you. See here for example (though most of these are for undergrad students):
Study Abroad in Japan: Financial Aid for Study in Japan | American Association of Teachers of Japanese
This might at least ease the "burning through savings" aspect.

I notice you said "rent a room in a sharehouse" not "live with my partner" - is he not in a position where he can support you at all financially, or offer you a place to stay? Have you talked to him about exactly what support he can give you if you move? Because it seems like you're planning on taking on the whole financial burden as well as the stress of moving countries, and you don't want that to become a source of resentment later on.

Thanks for the info :), I will look into scholarships. I was thinking there might not be much available to me since I already graduated university.

He is a graduate student and is currently living with his parents. They offered to let me stay at their house for a short time period until I can get set up, but obviously it's not a long term option for us. He fully intends for us to live together when he finishes school (in about one year's time) and when he is working full time. Currently he is not in a position to support me financially, except maybe for a little bit here and there (meals and such).

Ideally I want to take on the full burden, because while the relationship is my high on my list of priorities for moving, the reality is that it's something I've wanted to do for a long time and I likely would be considering coming to Japan in some form if I were currently single. This just gives it greater urgency.
 

Glenski

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Because Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, you are correct in assuming that you can't get a spousal visa. It will be student visa or work visa for you. The work visa would include the business manager/investor visa with which you could set up your own business. But that's probably not in the cards financially, especially for setup. If your current employer has a branch here that needs your skills, it's possible to get an intracompany transfer visa.

So, get a school to sponsor you, and then find a place to live. Your partner should be able to help you search for that, wouldn't he?

But if you think a mere year in a language school will bring you up to N2, think again. Unless you devote nearly 24/7 to your studies or are extremely adept at learning languages, I honestly don't think it's possible.

it will likely burn through all the savings I have. I just feel like it's better option for eventually pulling myself out of English teaching in the long term.
Where does your partner see himself in a year from now? At that time will he be finished with grad school and able to set up a place to live with the two of you? I know people need/want to save money (and I work at a uni, so I really know what grad student life is like here), but he's in his mid 20s and still living at home, which is something I'd think most people would want to get out of, especially if they have a serious romantic relationship.

As a student, you can work part-time with special permission on your visa. So, you actually don't have to burn through the money. But learn what it takes to teach English before leaping into it. I'm in that biz, and have gone from eikaiwa to HS to university, including having private lessons and proofreading income on the side, so I know what it takes. My own background is not in teaching, too, just like you, but I learned what is needed. I suggest going to the ESL Cafe Japan discussion forum and talking to teachers and teacher wannabes there.

Teaching is not for just anyone, despite what people may tell you. Yes, most entry level employers will take any foreigner with a pulse, especially if they look like the Japanese image of a foreigner (blond, blue eyes), but they are in the business of providing conversation lessons to customers, so they need people who are engaging as well as competent. The word "edutainment" comes from that line of work. You still need to know how to present material, create interesting drills/activities, and monitor the students without speaking too much yourself. They need the speaking practice, not you. And your students could be any age, from 2 to 90, so you will possibly be making lessons for more than one age group to learn. Japanese parents nowadays are pushing their elementary school kids more and more into going to juku and eikaiwa, so that crowd of students is growing. The mainstream educational system is nearly broken, so parents rely on outside resources.

Now, if you don't mind a personal observation and question:
I'm in a committed relationship with a Japanese national....it seems more feasible that I move to Japan, as his English ability is somewhat limited....I have basic Japanese ability (one year of university studies)
I know what it's like to have had a single year of language lessons in the U.S., and I also know what the average Japanese knows in terms of English. But just how bad is his language ability, and just how do you two communicate to the point of being committed if you're both that low?
 

kikuchi15

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Hi Glenski - thank you for your very comprehensive reply. Let me address all of your questions.

But if you think a mere year in a language school will bring you up to N2, think again. Unless you devote nearly 24/7 to your studies or are extremely adept at learning languages, I honestly don't think it's possible.

Yeah this is one thing I've been trying to get more information on. Some of the language schools claim that most of their students are able to pass N2 after 1-1.5 years of study (4 hours of classes + 2-3 hours of studying, 5 days a week), but this could just be exaggerated marketing attempts. Although - some schools seem better than others. One that I was considering is Akamonkai in Tokyo.

However, do you think it's good option simply if I wanted to get a foot in Japan? I don't quite like the idea of just hopping over on a tourist visa and hoping I find work in Tokyo in the 3 months time (or do think this would be easy?). I feel like the student visa gives me "breathing room" and plus I want to learn more Japanese anyway. Could I study at the school for 1 year and then eventually finish the rest of N2 prep with self-study? Or would it be better save more and attend the school for 1.5-2 years? At 2 years, some of these schools are claiming N1 proficiency.

Where does your partner see himself in a year from now? At that time will he be finished with grad school and able to set up a place to live with the two of you? I know people need/want to save money (and I work at a uni, so I really know what grad student life is like here), but he's in his mid 20s and still living at home, which is something I'd think most people would want to get out of, especially if they have a serious romantic relationship.

He absolutely wants to move out and he would like to live together once he finds full time employment, and he's already been quite helpful as I've been researching housing options. I'm hoping that it could make living in Japan more manageable as well, if I'm able to live with somebody to eventually split the rent with. We wouldn't need much.

Now, if you don't mind a personal observation and question:
I know what it's like to have had a single year of language lessons in the U.S., and I also know what the average Japanese knows in terms of English. But just how bad is his language ability, and just how do you two communicate to the point of being committed if you're both that low?

My bad here - another area where I should have explained more thoroughly. He is able to hold conversations with me fairly well (although occasionally I have to re-state what I'm trying to say in different terms), but his English ability is below what I'd consider business level. Meaning, I don't think at his current level he could get a full time professional job at an American company, but he probably could handle minimum wage work or something around that. It's simply a question of which is better - him coming to me or vice versa, both have pros and cons.

Teaching is not for just anyone, despite what people may tell you. Yes, most entry level employers will take any foreigner with a pulse, especially if they look like the Japanese image of a foreigner (blond, blue eyes), but they are in the business of providing conversation lessons to customers, so they need people who are engaging as well as competent. The word "edutainment" comes from that line of work. You still need to know how to present material, create interesting drills/activities, and monitor the students without speaking too much yourself. They need the speaking practice, not you. And your students could be any age, from 2 to 90, so you will possibly be making lessons for more than one age group to learn. Japanese parents nowadays are pushing their elementary school kids more and more into going to juku and eikaiwa, so that crowd of students is growing. The mainstream educational system is nearly broken, so parents rely on outside resources.

Yeah, the ESL/eikaiwa/ALT industry in Japan is something I've researched before (I considered it a few years ago as my likely path after college, but upon doing research I was scared away by all the negative information I found about shady companies exploiting foreign English teachers). I think I would be alright with it so long as the company paid me on time and enough to get by with a basic living. But my goal would be to try to land a type of job that's similar to the IT job that I currently have (hence the desire for N2).

Do you think there are many places that would hire me as a part-time English teacher, and then get me ready to switch to a working visa and ramp me up to full time as my student visa is winding down? Do you have any advice for making this kind of transition?

Thanks again!
 
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kikuchi15

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Also - how much do you think I could realistically earn per month, working part time while on student visa? Thanks!
 

Janthefan

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Sorry, unrelated question as I cannot give any advice, but his parents are cool with the relationship?
Thought Japanese parents were really anal about homosexuality.
 

Glenski

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some schools seem better than others....However, do you think it's good option simply if I wanted to get a foot in Japan?
It would be a more immediate "in" than looking for a job, whether from home or here. Most eikaiwas are too small to recruit outside of the country. Some of them will use Skype to interview, but that has its disadvantages, too.

I don't quite like the idea of just hopping over on a tourist visa and hoping I find work in Tokyo in the 3 months time (or do think this would be easy?).
"Easy" is a subjective word. You have a BA degree, which makes you eligible for a work visa that eikaiwas accept. That also makes you only minimally qualified, pretty much like 80-90 percent of eikaiwa drones. So, getting hired will require that you do the leg work before and after arriving just to see who's hiring, and then the big task of showing that you have the personality and potential teaching ability lands on you. Don't believe anyone who might say "they take everyone with a pulse". They take ANYone, not EVERYone, with a pulse, but competition is very high here. Everyone and his brother think that just by showing up you are guaranteed a teaching job. Nope. Doesn't work that way. "Easy" also is related to the time of year that you come. When were you planning? (You could interview back home with whichever big outfit has a recruiting office there, but there is NO guarantee where they will place you. Make no mistake about that!) The same holds for the JET Programme.

Could I study at the school for 1 year and then eventually finish the rest of N2 prep with self-study?
Well, of course! Nobody will stop you from self-study. The problem lies only in how disciplined you yourself are. Living in a new land often muddies the waters of discipline, though. And, it is impossible to say exactly how long it will take you to get to N2. We don't know your study habits, and if you are studying with a job that takes away your time, plus you have a romantic relationship to spend time on, well, you just have to be very serious about time.

At 2 years, some of these schools are claiming N1 proficiency.
I call BS on that.
I'm hoping that it could make living in Japan more manageable as well, if I'm able to live with somebody to eventually split the rent with. We wouldn't need much.
Just stay away from the inner city, where costs are high for accommodation.
the ESL/eikaiwa/ALT industry in Japan is something I've researched before..... I think I would be alright with it so long as the company paid me on time and enough to get by with a basic living.
They typically pay 250,000 yen/month, which is quite sufficient for the average thrifty person to live on and even save a little. How much you save depends on your lifestyle and rent.

Do you think there are many places that would hire me as a part-time English teacher, and then get me ready to switch to a working visa and ramp me up to full time as my student visa is winding down?
In the bigger cities, yes, but keep in mind that there are more teacher wannabes than jobs.

Do you have any advice for making this kind of transition?
Start studying the language now before you leave. Look for internships in your field. They may pay only for food, but at least you won't have a gap in hiring time. They may even help with language lessons somehow. Look in the Japan Times online (or paper version if your local library has it) for the classifieds and school ads. Look at the Metropolis web site, too. And, if you come here and want to look around for teaching work instead, network as widely as you can. That might mean attending some regional conferences put on by various teaching organizations (like JALT or ETJ), but you would need to spread your name around.
 

madphysicist

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Because Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, you are correct in assuming that you can't get a spousal visa.

For the sake of others reading the thread: it does seem that if both partners are not Japanese and are legally married or in a civil partnership abroad, they can often get some kind of dependent visa. In this sense it is "recognised". Obviously not relevant to the OP's case since one partner is Japanese. Not sure why Japan makes a distinction here, but from all the info I've come across it seems to be the case.

@kikuchi15
About getting to N2 in one year... I do think it's possible IF you are prepared to do all the homework and put time in outside class using and revising what you've learnt. One year of study in Japan is about the minimum I think for getting from virtually nothing to scraping a pass on N2 for European language speakers (remember that to get a JLPT certificate, you don't actually have to be able to speak, put together your own sentences, or write kanji at all... but these things may be required for a job!). On the other hand, I have met people who have been taking classes in Japan for closer to 2 years and have not got there yet.

I don't know what 1 year of classes in the US gives you as a starting point, but I guess you have some idea of your own language-learning ability, memory, and motivation for self-study - be realistic about whether you are normally ahead or behind others in these respects. Some people really need the discipline of regular classes to make progress.
 

kikuchi15

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It would be a more immediate "in" than looking for a job, whether from home or here. Most eikaiwas are too small to recruit outside of the country. Some of them will use Skype to interview, but that has its disadvantages, too.

"Easy" is a subjective word. You have a BA degree, which makes you eligible for a work visa that eikaiwas accept. That also makes you only minimally qualified, pretty much like 80-90 percent of eikaiwa drones. So, getting hired will require that you do the leg work before and after arriving just to see who's hiring, and then the big task of showing that you have the personality and potential teaching ability lands on you. Don't believe anyone who might say "they take everyone with a pulse". They take ANYone, not EVERYone, with a pulse, but competition is very high here. Everyone and his brother think that just by showing up you are guaranteed a teaching job. Nope. Doesn't work that way. "Easy" also is related to the time of year that you come. When were you planning? (You could interview back home with whichever big outfit has a recruiting office there, but there is NO guarantee where they will place you. Make no mistake about that!) The same holds for the JET Programme.

In the bigger cities, yes, but keep in mind that there are more teacher wannabes than jobs.

I was thinking about enrolling in the language school this October (basically you have to apply to all the schools about 6 months in advance - October is the earliest I can go). If I attended for 12 months I'd be finishing up the following October. But I could choose to enter the language schools at four times of the year (January, April, July, October).

One anecdote that made me think it could be easy:

I applied to a dispatch company in Tokyo about 6 or so months ago. I had no teaching experience and they offered me a skype interview immediately. During the Skype interview I was told "the job is yours if you want it", in which case I received a written offer a day later. Interestingly enough, the written job offer did not contain anything about salary or contract conditions. When I asked if they could tell me what the salary was before sending the contract, I received a vague reply only that the contract would be snail-mailed and I would have to send it back. When I pressed once more for the salary (not an unreasonable request, you think?), they stopped replying and I assume the job offer was withdrawn (I likely dodged a bullet here).

But why would companies be offering jobs to foreigners over skype with no teaching experience at all if the job market in Tokyo is flooded with wannabe teachers looking for work? Couldn't they just pick up someone easily from the local market? There must be some sort of demand.
 

Glenski

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When I pressed once more for the salary (not an unreasonable request, you think?), they stopped replying and I assume the job offer was withdrawn (I likely dodged a bullet here).

But why would companies be offering jobs to foreigners over skype with no teaching experience at all if the job market in Tokyo is flooded with wannabe teachers looking for work? Couldn't they just pick up someone easily from the local market? There must be some sort of demand.
If any employer won't tell you the salary, don't you consider that a red flag? C'mon. Be reasonable. As to your question, the reason they offer jobs sometimes like that company did is because they want fresh meat with no experience in the legalities here, no awareness of how shady they operate. Consider yourself lucky they never responded. Some places will urge you to hurry up and get here without a visa, then say there were delays or mistakes in the application and keep you here until you have worked illegally and overstayed your tourist status, then fire you.
 

kikuchi15

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If any employer won't tell you the salary, don't you consider that a red flag? C'mon. Be reasonable. As to your question, the reason they offer jobs sometimes like that company did is because they want fresh meat with no experience in the legalities here, no awareness of how shady they operate. Consider yourself lucky they never responded. Some places will urge you to hurry up and get here without a visa, then say there were delays or mistakes in the application and keep you here until you have worked illegally and overstayed your tourist status, then fire you.

Yeah, I definitely did which I why I kept pressing them for the number - guess they didn't like that and deemed me a "troublesome" one for questioning them at all.

To bring this thread back to in line with my original topic (sorry for driving it off topic a bit) - basically I've concluded there are really no great options for doing what I want to do. I just want to come over to Japan, be able to live together with my partner and earn a modest living (maybe ¥250~300k) that has some degree of stability and perhaps a chance for modest increases with growing experience. Ideally in a field similar to my current role, but it's looking like it will be incredibly difficult to make that happen.

I'm still thinking the language school is the best option just for getting to Tokyo, but perhaps what could end up happening is that I spend $7000 for the tuition plus one year of living costs (off set by part time work, but could I really make much?), only to come out and get the same exact job (some form of ESL/teaching) with the same pay that I would have received had I just found something on a tourist visa with basic Japanese. But in the latter case I'd have a lot more savings to soften the blow of low entry-level pay.

I could wait longer, save more and attend the language school for 2 years to increase the chances of attaining N2, but I wonder what kind of impact two years out of the full-time labor market will have when potential employers see that large gap and my explanation is "I was attending a language school" (not even a university).

Obviously a lot to think about and a big decision for me to make over the next several weeks and months :).
 

tomoni

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Lots of interesting information in this thread for you. I think it's just a matter of choosing whether learning languages your priority or not using your money. If not using your money is a priority and you're a presentable person, and have confidence in your ability to sell yourself an interview, I would think that you should be able to get a job within three months. However, it has been a long time since I've been job hunting in eikaiwa.

But you could come on the tourist visa, look for a job and to school at the same time and then take one option or the other depending on which pans out for you. You do not need to decide before you come to Japan which visa you're ultimately go on.

I would suggest coming on a three-month tourist visa and pursuing both avenues, that is looking for a job in English teaching and looking for a school in person.

As far as passing the Japan language proficiency test (level 1) within two years, I think this is quite possible and is been done a lot by people who have language experience in kanji (eg. Chinese ).

I think it would be possible to for someone that is gifted in language or extremely diligent in their study. However, for the majority of people, I think level one would be very very hard within two years. I think that you could achieve level two within that timeframe and it is enough to look for a job. However finding jobs is quite difficult in Japan without a good network.

If you are committed to coming to Japan, I think that the best way to come would be on a three-month tourist visa and explore your options here. I don't see any downside to that, in fact I think it would be better to look for the language school in person because it's a big financial commitment as well as a big time commitment. You could even take some lessons while on your tourist visa to see if the school is a good match for you.

Is there any possibility of taking a leave of absence from your company and not giving up your US life, and coming to Japanfor a trial run.

Since you have a decent salary, I would suggest that you consider coming to Japan for a holiday if you can't get a leave of absence, at least to get a taste of it before you give up your US life.

Japan can be a great place, and it can be a very hard place, it really depends on how it suits you and how you adapt.

I hope this helps. Good luck
 

kikuchi15

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Lots of interesting information in this thread for you. I think it's just a matter of choosing whether learning languages your priority or not using your money. If not using your money is a priority and you're a presentable person, and have confidence in your ability to sell yourself an interview, I would think that you should be able to get a job within three months. However, it has been a long time since I've been job hunting in eikaiwa.

But you could come on the tourist visa, look for a job and to school at the same time and then take one option or the other depending on which pans out for you. You do not need to decide before you come to Japan which visa you're ultimately go on.

I would suggest coming on a three-month tourist visa and pursuing both avenues, that is looking for a job in English teaching and looking for a school in person.

As far as passing the Japan language proficiency test (level 1) within two years, I think this is quite possible and is been done a lot by people who have language experience in kanji (eg. Chinese ).

I think it would be possible to for someone that is gifted in language or extremely diligent in their study. However, for the majority of people, I think level one would be very very hard within two years. I think that you could achieve level two within that timeframe and it is enough to look for a job. However finding jobs is quite difficult in Japan without a good network.

If you are committed to coming to Japan, I think that the best way to come would be on a three-month tourist visa and explore your options here. I don't see any downside to that, in fact I think it would be better to look for the language school in person because it's a big financial commitment as well as a big time commitment. You could even take some lessons while on your tourist visa to see if the school is a good match for you.

Is there any possibility of taking a leave of absence from your company and not giving up your US life, and coming to Japanfor a trial run.

Since you have a decent salary, I would suggest that you consider coming to Japan for a holiday if you can't get a leave of absence, at least to get a taste of it before you give up your US life.

Japan can be a great place, and it can be a very hard place, it really depends on how it suits you and how you adapt.

I hope this helps. Good luck

Thanks! It certainly is possible for my to take a leave of absence - I can do so for up to 12 months. So you're right that it might be a good idea to try that.

Question however, if came on a tourist visa and decided to enroll in a school, how much time would I need to successfully change it to a student visa? The schools claim I need to apply six months in advance (from ABROAD) in order to allow for visa processing time/COE etc. But I wonder if doing from inside Japan it might be quicker since I could complete the "Change of Residence Status" form. Or basically if I don't find a job in those three months, I could fall back on a school to get me a student visa for another 3-6 months to extend my job search while attending classes.

Also, I recently discovered a detail about visa that seems discouraging.

It seems that in order to work in my current field, I may not be eligible to receive a work visa. I work in IT, but I have a degree in social sciences. The visa requirements for the IT/engineering visa say "A degree in a related field is required." I've heard that immigration is rather strict about this and my visa could very well be denied for not have a relevant degree (CS, etc.). My degree is not at all relevant to my current job. Does anybody have more information about this?

So I could spend quite a lot of time and money in school studying Japanese, only to find out that I am not legally allowed to work in IT in Japan even with the language ability. I'm not sure how this applies to more "IT business analyst" positions and what degree they would require.
 

Glenski

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Even immigration will not give you an exact time period within which a visa can be processed. Too many variables. Figure 4-8 weeks on average.

It seems that in order to work in my current field, I may not be eligible to receive a work visa. I work in IT, but I have a degree in social sciences. The visa requirements for the IT/engineering visa say "A degree in a related field is required." I've heard that immigration is rather strict about this and my visa could very well be denied for not have a relevant degree (CS, etc.). My degree is not at all relevant to my current job. Does anybody have more information about this?
Quite possible that you would not be considered eligible. Maybe an immigration lawyer could help put a spin on it, emphasizing any specific post-degree training you've had and your related work experience. No guarantees.
 
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I know from various Japanese learning forums that I participate in, that it is possible to pass the JLPT N1 with two years of hardcore self-study. It is not, however, normal to do so. It requires you to basically make it a full time job, and while there is enough time in the week to have an actual full time job and the same amount of study time... there won't be time for much of anything else.

Even so, most people that do this (or claim to do this, I can't know how much they cheated on their study regimen) report failure, only a very few actually pass. The N2 is a pretty easily passed after the same time committed to study, but unfortunately you can't attempt both in the same test period.

With American-paced classes and a moderate amount of outside study, you're looking at 5 years to easily pass N2 and have a 50/50 shot at passing N1. Language schools are obviously different, but I have no experience with them.

As for not having the correct degree, you likely can transfer your degree classes to eliminate the vast majority of requirements and get a relevant degree very quickly. You can probably even get your degree without attending physical classes, but I'd look at your state system or established schools with continuing education programs for that... the recent rash of remote-education schools seem to be having trouble keeping their accreditation.

Quality of education doesn't really matter for you case I think, just cost, speed, and of course, the accredited degree. One of these remote-education schools might even be the best option, but I'd research it very carefully if you did go with one of them.
 

tomoni

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I'm going to have to agree with glenski on this one. Nothing is exact when it comes to the immigration office,

But I have known people been able to get working visa after the setting up a job with a big company when there Uni degree was not that close to what they would actually be doing. But this is the case, have a very big company, and a very open job description.

Sorry can't predict immigration.
 

kikuchi15

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Thanks - yeah I assumed immigration would be tough to predict.

I was interviewed by an (all English speaking) IT company in Tokyo for a position similar to my current job (which they didn't end up offering me), so perhaps it is possible. Maybe they didn't offer it because they were ignorant of the visa requirements and later found out I wouldn't be eligible, or they simply didn't like me - I'll never know. But I would think employers would at minimum be aware of these requirements before bothering to interview someone who would need visa sponsorship. I suppose it could just be a matter putting a spin on the job title to seem relevant to my degree.

If I were to come to Tokyo on a tourist visa to seek English teaching jobs, would January~March be the "sweet spot" to use my 3 months? I figured that will be the best since a lot of contracts start in April.
 
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