Obtaining a business investor visa in Japan

“I want to move to Japan!”

We hear you, and we are here to help. That said, it isn’t that easy.

One route to achieving this goal is through obtaining a business investor visa. In this blog, we will walk you through the steps, requirements, and benefits of acquiring this visa, enabling you to establish residency in Japan.

As this question is frequently asked by our clients, in this blog we will lay out each of the steps in the process. One thing to remember is that non-residents of Japan can legally purchase Japanese real estate, but buying property does not afford any kind of residence status. Therefore, obtaining a residence permit should be thought of as a separate matter from buying real estate in Japan.

Further, the business investor visa is not the only visa that affords residence. For instance, if you were to be hired by a company doing business in Japan in a managerial, engineering, or other specialist role, that would open alternative routes to obtaining a residence permit. However, for those who don’t have such prospects, the business investor visa is the sole way that you can effectively self-sponsor your visa*.

*Please note that this is not legal advice. This information is provided for reference purposes only. Criteria and eligibility are subject to change, and it is recommended that you consult with the Japan Immigration Services Agency if you have any questions regarding potential eligibility.

Akiya & Inaka offers consulting services for individuals and organizations who wish to proceed with obtaining a business investor visa, in partnership with legal services firm STK Group.

Understanding the Business Investor Visa

The Business Investor Visa, also known as the Investor/Business Manager Visa (投資・経営ビザ Tōshi Keiei Visa), is a residency permit designed for individuals who wish to establish or invest in a business venture in Japan. This visa allows foreign entrepreneurs to enter and stay in Japan for the purpose of managing their own business operations or investing in an existing enterprise.

I. Requirements for the Business Investor Visa

A. Capital Investment

To be eligible for the Business Investor Visa, you must invest a significant amount of capital into a company in Japan. While there is no specific minimum investment threshold, the capital investment needs to be substantial enough to demonstrate your commitment to the venture. Most professionals cite ¥5,000,000 Yen ($35,000 USD) as the minimum, and our experience echoes this figure. If you are looking to obtain a visa from a newly established company, incorporation needs to happen before applying for the visa.

B. Business Plan

A well-detailed business plan is a crucial component of your visa application. It should outline your strategic objectives, market analysis, financial projections, and how your business will contribute to the Japanese economy. This, combined with some physical evidence of the company’s presence like a website and business cards are also important.

C. Legal Eligibility

You must meet the general requirements for entering Japan, which include having a valid passport, a clean criminal record, and no past violations of Japan’s immigration laws.

D. Relevant Experience and Expertise

The Japan Immigration Services Agency will also review your past experience and expertise in the field of business management. Demonstrating your skills and knowledge in your company’s industry through your CV will strengthen the visa application. It also is usually the case that the candidate’s education and experience record will be part of the application, so having materials that back up your eligibility are key.

II. The Application Process

Step 1. Gathering Documentation

Compile necessary documents, including your application form, passport, business plan, financial statements, proof of investment funds, and any relevant business licenses or permits.

Step 2. Submitting the Application for your Certificate of Eligibility

Your legal representative in Japan will submit the form along with the required and recommended documents, to the local immigration office in the jurisdiction of the company.

Step 3. Wait!

A business investor visa usually takes 3-6 months to process, and the Immigration Services Agency might ask for additional documentation during the process.

Step 4. Applying for your visa with a Certificate of Eligibility

Upon obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility, you will be able to apply for your visa at your local Embassy or Consulate. With the Certificate of Eligibility, this process is almost 100% successful. Please note that this application cannot take place in Japan, and generally needs to be done in your home country or place of primary residence.

Step 5. Visa Approval

You will get your passport back with the visa included, and you can come to Japan as a newly-minted resident.

All in all, the process is not easy but it is relatively straightforward. It is important to keep in mind that while there is no visa interview, each piece of information submitted is thoroughly scrutinized upon. Once submitted, the application will be judged upon based on whether all of the criteria are adequately met. Further, an application once deemed ineligible is very difficult to overturn. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your application meets all of the criteria and is submitted in the appropriate manner.

At Akiya & Inaka, we offer consulting services for individuals and organizations who wish to proceed with obtaining a business investor visa, in partnership with legal services firm STK Group.