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Working Visa Query

jack6251

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Hello everyone

I'm having a slight problem putting this into a question, can't quite seem to be able to put my words together, but here goes...

I've just changed my working visa from Specialist in Humanities to Instructor. My Specialist in Humanities was due to expire December 2022. Upon changing my visa status to Instructor I requested 5 years, kinda thinking...hoping I'd be offered 3 but disaster! They only gave me a 1 year visa and reduced my expiration date from December 2022 to May 2022 so essentially, I have less than 12 months already.

How common is it for this to happen? For example, are there cases where people need to renew on a year by year basis?

What could have caused this 1 year outcome?

Thanks
 

Majestic

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Do you have an instructor contract? If so, when does it expire?
If you changed from specialist to instructor, I presume you have an instructor position lined up, and that the school/firm who gave you the contract put a start and end date on the contract. If so, the visa is probably just mirroring what it is in your contract. If your employer renews your contract, it will be easy to renew your visa.
 

jack6251

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Do you have an instructor contract? If so, when does it expire?
If you changed from specialist to instructor, I presume you have an instructor position lined up, and that the school/firm who gave you the contract put a start and end date on the contract. If so, the visa is probably just mirroring what it is in your contract. If your employer renews your contract, it will be easy to renew your visa.
Hello, thanks for replying.

Yes my ALT Instructor contract began early April 2021 and set to expire late March 2022. I had wondered if contract duration was a factor but I don't know what information a company needs to include on their side of the visa process.

I had hoped to push for Permanent Residence but as things stand, I now find myself in the situation of planning how to leave Japan in the worst case scenario.

I don't know when people are allowed to request a visa extension for example. Sketchy info online says you must be within 3 months, so if that's true, my company will need to offer me a new contract maybe in Jan/Feb, then get the visa process underway. I just can't see how a company would be willing to take a gamble on not securing a teacher in a more solid way for schools and essentially take a gamble on a "yes or no" from the visa office in regard to an extension.
 

Majestic

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Your company should be well familiar with the visa situation if they have hired foreigners before. Since your contract ends in March, there is no basis for the Immigration Dept to issue you a longer visa. In other words, your contract is ends in March, so that is also when your visa ends. But really, extending contracts and visas is very common. It requires a visit to the Immigration Department out in Shinagawa, but its a fairly predictable, routine submission. Your company probably knows that the Immigration department only issues work visas for one year - at least initially. Once you have built up a history here of work, tax-paying, social-insurance-paying, etc... you will likely get issued visas for longer and longer.

For your company, its not really a gamble. If all the paperwork is in order, the visa will get issued pretty automatically. It may feel arbitrary to you, but it is not especially arbitrary for your company or for the Immigration Dept. It can be arbitrary if you have things in your past (drug convictions, etc.) that may gum up the works. But for most people, its just a matter of ticking the boxes. Actually, its more risky for your company to grant you a multi-year contract before they even know you. It is more comfortable for them to issue you a one-year contract, then see if you are a good fit for them and their students.

You shouldn't feel that you have to give up on permanent residency, and that you should start planning on leaving Japan. Why would you do either of these things if you want/expect to live and work here? In the worst case scenario you discuss with your new employer sometime early January 2022 about extending your contract, and they either say, "yes let's do it", or they say, "sorry Jack, we won't be extending". In the case they don't extend, you will have about three months to find a new job, which shouldn't be difficult with a valid work visa that lasts until end of March.
 

jack6251

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Your company should be well familiar with the visa situation if they have hired foreigners before. Since your contract ends in March, there is no basis for the Immigration Dept to issue you a longer visa. In other words, your contract is ends in March, so that is also when your visa ends. But really, extending contracts and visas is very common. It requires a visit to the Immigration Department out in Shinagawa, but its a fairly predictable, routine submission. Your company probably knows that the Immigration department only issues work visas for one year - at least initially. Once you have built up a history here of work, tax-paying, social-insurance-paying, etc... you will likely get issued visas for longer and longer.

For your company, its not really a gamble. If all the paperwork is in order, the visa will get issued pretty automatically. It may feel arbitrary to you, but it is not especially arbitrary for your company or for the Immigration Dept. It can be arbitrary if you have things in your past (drug convictions, etc.) that may gum up the works. But for most people, its just a matter of ticking the boxes. Actually, its more risky for your company to grant you a multi-year contract before they even know you. It is more comfortable for them to issue you a one-year contract, then see if you are a good fit for them and their students.

You shouldn't feel that you have to give up on permanent residency, and that you should start planning on leaving Japan. Why would you do either of these things if you want/expect to live and work here? In the worst case scenario you discuss with your new employer sometime early January 2022 about extending your contract, and they either say, "yes let's do it", or they say, "sorry Jack, we won't be extending". In the case they don't extend, you will have about three months to find a new job, which shouldn't be difficult with a valid work visa that lasts until end of March.
Thank you for the very detailed reply!

I first came to Japan March 2016 but I'd already spent time in China. I was awarded a 5 year Specialist in Humanities visa. It's a little complicated, but after fulfilling my 1 year contract in Japan, I made the decision to return to the UK to see friends and family and test the water in regards to the job market. I quickly realized music teacher jobs were few compared to the abundance of English language jobs around the world so after 9 months back in the UK, I didn't want to waste anymore time and got myself another job in Japan.

Not knowing, ignorant to knowing my 5 year visa was still valid, I applied and got another visa, 5 years again, Specialist in Humanities again. The woman in the visa office seemed confused by what I was doing and explained the process, giving me a new visa anyway and it's this Specialist in Humanities visa I'd been using for Eikaiwa jobs. Now I'm an ALT, I needed to change the visa status. What caught me by surprise was how my Specialist in Humanities expiration of December 2022 was chopped to May. I've felt the December 2022 date was a nice buffer but I've lost that chunk of months now.

This is my first time with dealing with visa status changes, extensions and renewals. I'm very green to all of this so concluding many things that might be jumping the gun a little.

I don't have any legal black marks and fully paid up in taxes and insurance however, I am a little delinquent in pension payments and felt this could count against me. The reason for certain missed payments, ignorance during my early period in Japan and atrocious advice by my then manager.

I've been taking steps to clear the arrears while maintaining payments. I've written letters to the pension office, spent substantial time at city hall to determine exactly what I owe too. After reading a few horror stories online, I've felt the pension issue could count against me.

Anyway, thank you for your help.
 

bentenmusume

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I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that being reverted to a 1-year visa has anything to do with any oversights, misdeeds, or other errors on your part. Immigration is notoriously capricious and inconsistent about these things.

To dredge up a particularly unpleasant experience of my own, I was reverted to a 1-year visa upon switching from a Specialist in Humanities visa to a spousal visa. Yes, after ten years of living in Japan, being gainfully employed as a 正社員 for a major Japanese corporation for the most recent seven of those years, paying all my taxes, pension, and so forth the whole time (and even being upstanding--read: guillible--enough to pay the scam that is NHK), then yes, on top of that getting married to a Japanese national, the powers that be somehow decided that it was necessary to put me back on "trial mode" to prove my worth. (Since surely the most likely perpetrators of marriage fraud are professionals in their thirties who spend ten years in the Japanese corporate grind so they can one day pull the wool over the authorities' eyes.)

They had the gall to give me yet another 1-year when I renewed the following year, before finally giving me a 5-year after that, after which I said **** it and applied for permanent residency, and was accepted on the first try.

Moral of the story: immigration works in mysterious, maddening ways, and often there's little we can do except subject ourselves to the mercy of it and work with it as best we can. While it wouldn't hurt to look into things, there's a good chance they just reverted you because you switched your visa type and then felt like pressing the reset button.
 
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