The Japan Investor Visa, Explained

The Japan Investor Visa, Explained

This article is an in-depth guide on the Japan investor visa. We cover the requirements, application process, required investment amounts, and other need-to-know aspects.

Note: This article cannot replace the need for immigration counsel and should serve only as reference.

What is Japan’s investor visa for a foreign national?

Japan’s investor/business management visa is for foreign business entrepreneurs to invest and start a business in Japan or for foreign nationals to manage the Japanese subsidiary of their company.

The investor visa duration is one, three, and five years. When you form a company, you usually receive a visa for one year, and each renewal will most likely be one year at a time. The chances of visa renewal depend on the healthy business of your company.

Thus, getting a startup visa and preparing with professionals before applying for an investor visa is considered a wise option.

Unlike other countries, the Japanese investor visa does not rely solely on investments or asset purchases for eligibility. Applicants must be executive members of a Japanese business to obtain an investor/manager visa in Japan. The visa application process considers the applicant's role and responsibilities within the company, apart from the investment aspect.

Who is eligible for the Japan investor visa and business manager visa? 

This visa applies to business entrepreneurs who wish to have a self-sponsorship visa in Japan instead of working for Japanese firms, and those who will occupy senior positions such as CEO, general manager, and business manager, in the existing business in Japan subsidiary of their foreign company. The latter is often called a business management visa or business manager visa.

The Japanese investor visa allows for more flexibility than a regular working visa.

Investor visa requirements if you are starting your own business in Japan

If you are starting your own business in Japan, the requirements are as follows:

1. Investment

The investment of a minimum of 5,000,000 yen (approx. $35,425).  The amount must be available for business use when the founding process is finished. You must also submit the contract if you loan money from financial institutions. The higher the investment, the higher your chances of visa approval.

2. Office

There needs to be a physical location to run a business in Japan. The actual premise is meant to be used for business. Temporary offices, rooms, shared offices, home addresses, virtual office and PO boxes are not applicable as immigrations might ask for a photo of the location. Renting an office in Japan might need a guarantor in Japan.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications defines the office as follows.

  • One business organization conducts business activities at one certain place.

  • Employees at the location produce products and provide services continuously.

If you are not in Japan and require Japanese language skills, bilingual assistance will be helpful.

3. Japanese national employees

Your company should have more than two full-time employees (Japanese nationals, permanent resident visa holders, dependant visas holders to a Japanese citizen, family members of a permanent resident, long-time visa holders, etc.).

4. Co-director

There should be a co-director who is a resident of Japan (a Japanese national, a permanent resident, a spouse of a child of a Japanese national, a spouse or a child of a person with permanent residency, or a long-term visa holder).

5. Professional experience

The document of your working experience in the business. You need at least three years of relevant experience (including years of Graduate study) in the business area where you are establishing a company in Japan.

Immigration has been paying more attention to this element, and you will need to show your knowledge and skills to operate a business based on education and professional experience

6. Business plan

Your plan needs to be clear and comply with the current Japanese legislation. The project should demonstrate the company's operation and can produce results and profits.

7. Business license

 Some businesses, such as restaurants, construction, and financial services, require certifications and licenses to operate in Japan.

Investor visa requirements if you are managing an existing business in Japan of a foreign company

If you are managing an existing business in Japan of a foreign company, the requirements are as follows:

1. Investment

For managing an existing business as a senior position, such as a president and business manager in Japan for business manager visa, the amount paid in capital will be 2,500,000 yen (approx. $1,771).

 2. Japanese national employee

One full-time employee who is a resident of Japan (a Japanese national who owns a Japanese passport, a permanent resident, a spouse of a child of a Japanese national, a spouse or child of a permanent resident, or a long-term visa holder) besides the president or business manager.

3. Salary

Your salary should be the same or higher than that of the Japanese person in a comparable position. You must demonstrate there must be enough salary/income for the applicant to live independently in Japan.

Step-by-step guide to the application process for a Japan investor visa 

1. Form your company first. Then apply for an investor visa.

You can get support from a certified immigration specialist and tax accountant in Japan to prepare the procedure to establish your company if you are not in Japan. Establishing a company, such as finding an office space, requires virtual assistance and Japanese language skills, MailMate’s bilingual assistant service is available to help.

2. Apply for the visa at the immigration office and wait for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

Your certified immigration professional can do the process if you’re outside Japan.

3. Once the certificate of eligibility (COE) is ready at the immigration, you can change it for an Investor Status of Residence (SOR).

This can be processed at the Embassy or a Consulate of Japan to receive the status of residence SOR and usually takes a few weeks.

In some cases, a holder of an Investor COE enters Japan and applies for Investor SOR via a change of status application filed at a regional immigration office in Japan.

In either case, you will receive a Japan residence card at a regional immigration office and your official identification card as a foreign national, with your name, address, birth date, and residence status, such as Japan Investor SOR.

Required documents for the investor visa for Japan and where to submit them 

The following are the documents you must prepare and submit to apply for the investor visa for Japan.

  1.  Any investment-related information, such as a loan contract and financial participation.

  2. A well-written business plan

  3. Company registration documents (registered address, list of company's directors, and paid in capital of at least five million JPY)

  4. Business licenses and appropriate certifications (if applicable)

  5. Your professional experience

  6. Office lease and documents related to your company location

  7. Employee information (payroll of at least two full-time employees, job descriptions, etc.)

All the documents and applications for the investor visa are processed at the immigration office in Japan. If you are currently in Japan, you must visit and submit applications at your regional immigration office. If you are outside Japan, those must be submitted by a certified immigration official to the Japanese immigration official in Japan.

What are the expected processing time and fees for the investor visa for Japan?

Applying for the Japanese investor visa is a lengthy process. For example, finding an office, co-director, and company employees and preparing all the documents require much work.

Even searching for office space as a native Japanese person is not easy. When you establish your company, applying for a startup visa in Japan is a good idea until the investor status application is filed. 

A COE might take a few months, and it may take weeks to receive the investor SOR (investor status of residence).

What is the role of the business plan when applying for an investor visa?

Your business plan should make a clear and compelling case that you will be profitable, as your profitability will be evaluated by immigrations when determining whether to grant you the investor visa status.

Create a clear and concise business description and plan that reflects the nature of your business while ensuring compliance with Japanese legislation and regulations.

Tips for creating a plan that meets immigration requirements

The plan should cover the bases that include a business description, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, design and development plan, operations and management, and financials.

The Japanese translation or Japanese summary should be provided. Particular attention should be paid to the articles of association and profits and loss statements.

Profit and loss statements are essential to demonstrate the financial viability of your business. These statements clearly show your company's revenue, expenses, and overall profitability to the immigration office. You should ensure that your plan includes these statements to showcase that your company is not only operable but can also generate sustainable profits.

If you have a co-founder for your business and need another investor visa, you must differentiate the roles of both founders, such as CEO, COO, and CFO, and explain the job description in detail because Japanese companies usually don’t have co-founders to run a company and the immigration needs to understand why more than one person needs the investor visa.

Also, even if the investment amount exceeds 5 million yen, applicants will need to show substantial management rights to apply for the investor visa.

The two key aspects of an investor visa application are if your business complies with Japanese laws and regulations and if your business is operated regularly. The visa also requires investment capital.

Take note: there are more requirements, procedures, and responsibilities to obtain an investor visa than other working visas.

Reporting requirements and renewals: Japan tax obligations

Investor visa holders in Japan fulfill tax obligations in one of the following ways:

  • the company handles their Japan tax matters and tax is deducted monthly and a year-end adjustment is made in the December payroll.

  • the individual is under sole proprietor status and they will be taking care of both corporate tax and individual income tax.

It's a good idea to hire a tax accountant to form the company, file corporate taxes, and deal with updated taxes and compliances. All the paperwork is exclusively in Japanese and needs to be understood and precise. Tax matters are important for your company and can be problematic for your visa status if not taken care of with diligence.

Consequences of non-compliance with tax obligations

There will be no visa extensions without meeting Japanese tax obligations. You must comply with Japanese tax obligations to renew your investor SOR visa. Please make sure to understand Japanese tax from your tax accountant and tax agent.

Also, before leaving Japan, investor visa holders must fully settle their taxes or appoint a tax accountant.

Frequently asked questions

What is a Japan investor visa?

Japan’s investor visa is available to foreign business entrepreneurs who invest and start a business in Japan or for foreign nationals who manage the Japanese subsidiary of their company.

What are the requirements for an investor visa for Japan?

The requirements for an investor visa include a minimum investment of 5,000,000 yen (approx. $35,425), office space, 2 full-time Japanese employees, a co-director who is a resident of Japan, professional experience in your business area, a business plan, and a business license (if applicable).

Where can I apply for a Japan investor visa? 

All the documents and applications for the investor visa are processed at the immigration office in Japan. If you are currently in Japan, you must visit and submit applications at your regional immigration office. If you are outside Japan, those must be submitted by a certified immigration official to the Japanese immigration official in Japan.

Can I get permanent residency in Japan with an investor visa? 

An investor visa does not grant you permanent residency in Japan. However, once you have lived in Japan for over 10 years on a valid visa, you can apply for permanent residency in Japan.

What documents do I need to support my Japan investor visa application? 

To apply for an investor visa for Japan, you will need to send in investment-related information, a business plan, company registration documents, business licenses, and appropriate certificates, proof of professional experience, office lease documents, and employee information. 

In closing

The incorporation process might be complicated for foreign nationals to establish a company in Japan without professional assistance, such as a certified immigration official, if you are outside Japan. MailMate’s assistant service provides bi-lingual assistance to start all the necessary preparations for your investor visa application.

Need help with further research into the requirements or the application process for the investor visa? Professional assistance may positively influence the investor visa application process.

If you find yourself spending hours going down Internet rabbit holes and Reddit forums, consider using MailMate's bilingual assistant service instead. Our concierge service can make calls on your behalf, such as calling the immigration office in Japan, and helping you with other aspects of your application. 

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