Part 3 of our series on Japanese visas

Can foreign students work in Japan? What kind of permission do they need before they start working? What kind of places are they allowed to work at? Let’s read this article and find answers.


  • Student visa holders need to get permission prior to working
  • They can work up to 28 hours per week
  • They cannot work at game centers, bars, clubs, anywhere related to adult entertainment, or sex-related businesses

What is a Student visa?

Foreign students who are enrolled in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, vocational schools, or Japanese language schools are given Student visas.

Even though it is said that getting a student visa is relatively easy, the application process involves a lot of paperwork. For more information on how to get visas, please read Part 1.

Can foreign students work?

Yes! In fact, about three out of four foreign students are engaged in part-time work according to a survey. However, this does not mean that any Student visa holder can work. Student visas are given to foreign people whose purpose is to study.

Therefore, if they want to participate in any other activity, they need to get permission by the Japanese immigration bureau. This permission is called 資格外活動許可申請 (shikakugai katsudou kyoka shinsei), which when translated is “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Visa Status Previously Granted.” 

If you are engaged in part-time work without this permission or any activity not authorized by a Student visa status, you may be subject to punishment including deportation. Additionally, you can work for up to 28 hours per week during semesters or quarters, and up to 8 hours per day during long school breaks.

You may be subject to punishment if you work more than you are allowed. Fortunately, there is no need to get this permission to start on-campus jobs or paid positions at your schools, including teaching and research assistants. 

How to get this permission

You need to submit necessary documents at a service counter in an immigrant office which you are assigned to based off of your address. Office hours are 9:00 to 12:00, and 13:00 to 16:00 on weekdays. There is no fee to apply.

Documents you are required to submit are the following:

  • Your passport
  • Your residence card
  • An application form
  • A document that proves your intended activity as indicated on the application form

The application form can be downloaded here. The immigration bureau accepts the application form if it is printed our on Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) A4 formatted paper.

Plan on it taking two weeks to two months depending on the situation. For more information, please visit the Japanese Immigration Bureau’s webpage

Some rules to know before you start working

There are some do’s and don’ts when you work part-time in Japan. 

  • Do: get the permission first. As explained above, working part-time without the permission can result in your deportation. 
  • Do: report any change in your working status and situation at school. Your school is required to report your activities to the immigration office.
  • Do: enroll in multiple insurances. If you fulfill certain criteria, you are required to enroll in multiple insurances. For further information about insurances, please read our Insurance series.
  • Do: file your tax return. Towards the end of the school year is a time to file your tax return. You might get some money back if you have been paying too much tax.
  • Don’t: work more than 28 hours a week. If you work over the amount of time allowed, you and your employer will get in trouble. The worst case scenario is that you can lose your Student visa status. (Note: Students are allowed to work up to 8 hours a day during long school breaks.)
  • Don’t: work in entertainment, amusing businesses, and sex-related businesses. Examples include game centers, bars, and clubs. Even just working at these places as a waiter or dishwasher is prohibited. 

Where to find part-time jobs

JapanWork provides more than 2,000 job openings to foreign people in Japan. There are many part-time jobs available for students. Also, below are some other job searching websites:

Balance studying and working

Working part-time while having additional income is a great idea for foreign students. You can get familiar with Japanese society and culture that you do not see in school. But keep in mind that your priority here is to study. So, study hard and then enjoy working when you have time and energy.

Part 1: Different Visa Types in Japan
Part 2: How to Get a Japanese Working Visa
Part 4: How to Change Your Visa Status