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The Japan Training Visa

The Training Visa is for Applicants who will come to Japan for the purpose of training in an organization in order to acquire technology and other skills. 

The trainee system was originally created by the Japanese government to allow for the exchange and training of overseas based workers by companies in Japan.

It should be noted that an individual Applicant cannot simply become a trainee. Rather, it is necessary to belong to an organization outside Japan which sends the Applicant to a Japanese organization.

Seven Steps to Obtain a Japan Training Visa

In order to obtain a Training Visa, an Applicant will need to complete the following seven steps:

Step 1

Confirm that the Applicant satisfies the preliminary requirements for obtaining a Japan Training Visa.

There are extensive and detailed preliminary requirements that apply to both the Applicant and to the organization that will be providing the training. Since a full explanation is beyond the scope of this paper, the following is a brief summary only.

General Requirements

  1. The technology, skills, or knowledge that the Applicant intends to obtain in Japan should not be of a type obtained mostly through the repetition of simple work.
  2. The Applicant must be at least 18 years of age. 
  3. It should be expected that the Applicant will apply the technology, skills, or knowledge obtained in Japan after returning to her country.
  4. The technology, skills, or knowledge the Applicant intends to obtain in Japan must be difficult or impossible to obtain in the region where he resides.

Requirements for Sponsoring Organization

  1. The training must be conducted under the guidance of a person who is a full-time employee of the organization that accepts the applicant. That person should have at least five years' experience in the technology, skills, or knowledge that the Applicant intends to learn.
  2. In some cases the sponsoring organization will be limited in terms of the number of trainees it can bring to Japan. The following is an indication

Full time employees in sponsoring organizationPermitted number of Trainees

Over 3011/20th of the full time employees

201 – 30015

101 – 20010

51 – 1006

Up to 503

Step 2

Confirm that the proposed activities in Japan are consistent with those permitted for the holder of a Japan Training Visa.

Once the preliminary items in Step 1 have been confirmed, the actual activities the Applicant will undertake in Japan need to be considered.

The permitted activities for the holder of a Training Visa are activities to learn and acquire technology, skills, or knowledge at a public or a private organization in Japan.

Step 3

Assemble the documents required to support a Japan Training Visa application.

Once an Applicant has confirmed that her proposed activities in Japan are consistent with those outlined above in Step 2, supporting documentation needs to be prepared.

In the case of a Training Visa, the authorities require the following documents:

  1. A training plan that explains:
    1. The substance of the training,
    2. Why the training is necessary, 
    3. The location of the training, 
    4. The duration of the training, and 
    5. The conditions of the Trainees stay in Japan.
  2. Documents certifying that, upon return to her country, the Trainee intends to engage in an activity that utilizes what she learned during her stay in Japan.
  3. Documents certifying the Trainees professional career.
  4. Documents certifying the Trainers professional career and qualifications to provide the planned training.
  5. Material describing the foreign organization which is sending the Trainee to Japan.
  6. Copies of the inviting company’s registration, statement of profit and loss, list of full-time staff, and list of trainees. 

Although not technically required, our experience is that providing Japanese translations enhances the quality of an application. This may minimize delays in obtaining final approval.

Japan Visa’s certified immigration professionals are able to assist in the preparation and translation of all documentation required for a Training Visa.

Step 4

Submit an application for a Japan Training Visa Certificate of Eligibility (“COE”).

Once the Applicant’s activities have been confirmed and the appropriate documents assembled per steps 2 and 3 above, the next step in most cases will be to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (abbreviated as “COE”).

A COE is a document issued by the Japanese immigration authorities. It certifies an Applicant’s eligibility to undertake specific employment in Japan – in this case, the job associated with the Training Visa application.

An application for a Training Visa COE must be submitted in person at a regional immigration office in Japan. The COE application cannot be submitted by mail or at a Japanese embassy outside Japan. 

Where the Applicant is not personally available (for example because she is not in Japan or due to a busy schedule) Japanese law allows a certified immigration specialist to submit a Training Visa COE application on behalf of the Applicant.

Japan Visa’s certified immigration specialists are able to handle all the procedures associated with preparing and submitting an application for a Training Visa COE.

Step 5

Await Approval of the Training Visa COE.

The processing time for a Training Visa COE is generally four to six weeks. 

Once approved, a notice is sent to an address in Japan advising that the COE is ready for collection at the regional immigration office where the COE application was originally submitted. 

Where Japan Visa’s certified immigration professionals are handling the Training Visa application, the notification from the immigration authorities is sent to our office. Japan Visa then collects the COE from the regional immigration office and either forwards it to the Applicant or prepares a change of status application (see Step 6 below).

Step 6

Obtain Training Status of Residence (SOR).

Once an Applicant has the Training Visa COE in hand, the next step is for her to exchange the COE for Training “Status of Residence” (usually abbreviated as “SOR”).

Technically speaking, it is the Training SOR that will form the basis of the Applicant actually living and working in Japan.

There are two methods for converting the COE to Training SOR:

1. Exchange the Training COE at a Japanese embassy or Consul outside Japan. 

This is the traditional route for obtaining Training SOR.

The Applicant first exchanges the Training Visa COE for a Training Visa at a Japanese embassy or consul outside Japan. The process generally takes two to three business days.

The Applicant then travels to Japan and is granted Training SOR at the port of entry.

2. Undertake a Change of Status to Training SOR in Japan.

In some cases, an alternative may be for the holder of a Training COE to enter Japan under the Japan Visa Waiver Program or some other form of short-term entry. The Applicant then applies for Training SOR via a change of status at a regional immigration office in Japan.

A change of status takes approximately two weeks. During that time, it is not possible for the Applicant to travel outside Japan.

Where the change of status route is utilized, Japan Visa’s certified immigration professionals can undertake the necessary procedures at the regional immigration office in Japan.

Japan Residence Card

Whether you receive your Training SOR at the airport upon entering Japan or via a change of status application filed at a regional immigration office in Japan (see Step 6 above), you will receive a Japan Residence Card.

This is an official identification card that includes an IC chip. The Residence Card contains personal information such as your name, address, birth date, residence status (in this case, Training SOR), period of stay, etc.

You are required to carry your Residence Card at all times.

Step 7

Consider applying for a Japan Re-entry Permit.

Up until July 2012, if you held Training SOR and wished to temporarily leave Japan (e.g., for vacation, business, etc.) it was necessary to obtain a Re-entry Permit for Japan in advance of travelling. 

However, it is now possible to leave Japan for up to 12 months without a Re-Entry Permit.

If there is any possibility that a trip outside Japan will last for more than 12 months, an individual holding Training SOR should ensure that they have a Re-entry Permit. This can be obtained at regional immigration office in Japan.