Sunday, June 19, 2011

Japanese Immigration Laws

Right now, I'm waiting to receive my Certificate of Eligibility from Japan. This document is crucial to my trip. Having it allows me to apply for a work visa. Two years ago, when I went to Japan to study the language, I was able to travel there on a Student Visa and stay for four months. Their immigration policy differs from America's in some ways. Foreign nationals are allowed to visit Japan on a Tourist Visa as long as they remain in the country for less than 90 days. Students can stay on a Student Visa for a preset amount of time decided by the Japanese consulate. To find work in Japan, I need a Work Visa. These visas can only be obtained if one is sponsored by a Japanese company. As soon as my company sends my Certificate of Eligibility, I can travel to the nearest Japanese consulate and get it approved.

No two countries have the same laws regarding anything. America is a country founded on the concept of immigration, and as a result has a much larger influx of foreigners seeking citizenship every year. To give you an idea of the gap, roughly eight million immigrants have entered the country between 2000 and 2005, and in 2006 1.27 million immigrants received US citizenship (1). On the other hand, Japan accepts as little as 15,000 citizens through naturalization each year (2). Obviously this is due in some part to the disparity between the two countries in terms of size--Japan is slightly smaller than the state of California (3).

Now, I'm not planning to become a Japanese citizen or anything like that. These examples are merely to show how the policies of our nations differ. Once I get my Work Visa, I am legally bound to work at the company that sponsored me or to quit and return to Japan. However, there is nothing stopping me from finding a new job in Japan and transferring sponsorship of my visa to that company. This is one of the ways that my friends have managed to find better gainful employment overseas.

Based on what I know about my company, I have high expectations. It supports a large number of ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) from around the world and teach at almost 1,400 schools throughout Japan. While I am aware of the problems concerning teaching abroad (which I will address in a future entry), I am optimistic that this lifestyle change will bear fruit.


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