Status of Residence to Work as Language Teachers

2019-12-24 LIFE , VISA , WORK

This post is also available in 日本語

The language teacher is a popular job for foreigners coming over to Japan. When you want to work as an instructor of English or Chinese language in Japan, what kind of status of residence (so-called VISA) in required? Different types of status of residence are required from one employee to another. Here are some details.

The required status of residence (so-called VISA) varies depending upon employer

“Professor” Status
Working at university, junior college, or technological college

The Japanese Immigration Law states that when a person “acts as a researcher, an instructor or an educator of research at a university, or a like institution or a technological college in Japan, he/she is eligible for the ‘professor’ status.”

It is clear which are university and technological college, but ‘a like institution’ is ambiguous. This includes a fisheries university, meteorological university and national defense academy, but it’s advisable to ask an expert in this area for details.

Not only an educational job, but also a ‘researcher’ and an ‘instructor of researching’ fall into this status of residence.

“Education” Status
Working at Elementary, Junior High, High Schools or a Vocational School etc.

The Japanese Immigration Law states that when a person “acts as an instructor of foreign language or other area at Japanese elementary school, junior high school, mandatory educational institution, high school, secondary school, school for special needs, advanced vocational school, other schools and other educational institutions equivalent to other  schools in facilities and curriculum,” he/she is eligible for the education status.

Here again, it’s clear to identify elementary schools, junior-high schools and high-schools, but “advanced vocational schools or other schools” and “other educational institutions equivalent to other schools in facilities and curriculum” are difficult to understand.

Both “advanced vocational schools” and “other schools” are officially approved “schools” under the School Education Act. They are authorized to establish by the governors of municipalities, just like high-schools and universities.

“Other educational institutions equivalent to other schools in facilities and curriculum” means to include international schools for education of children of foreigners who live in Japan and Japanese language schools.

Please remember that these educational institutions are not limited to the language education but also include mathematics and algebra, social study, physical education, etc.

“Engineering/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” Status
Working at Privately Owned Language Schools

The status of residence of “Engineering, Specialist in Humanities and International Services” is the status granted to a person who works as the so-called ‘white-color worker’ who contracts with companies. This includes the educational work. Namely English teachers of English conversation schools and others.

Check with an expert beforehand!

As explained above, the required status of residence varies depending upon where you work. You need to clear conditions which are particular to each status you want to obtain. You must prepare necessary applications and documents with consultation with an expert.

Be careful of taking up part-time job

Suppose an English teacher of an elementary school works as a part-timer at a private language school a few times a week. In this instance, he/she should have the “Education” status. However, if he/she works at a private language school, a special permit called “permit to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted” is needed, because the status of “Engineering/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” is required. Please be careful that without this special permit, it will be an illegal work.

The language you teach must be your mother tongue

Generally, the language you teach must be your native language. For instance, an American is expected to teach English and Chinese the Chinese language. However, in cases of people from Philippines where their mother tongues are Filipino and Tagalog but English is used daily, or a person who has been taught English from the mandatory education years, the permit may be granted if you explain these when you apply.

This article in Japanese by Immigration Lawyer Yumiko Kasama (Gyoseishoshi Kasama Yumiko Office)


Deputy Director of the International section of Kanagawa Administrative Lawyers Association (Kanagawa-Ken Gyoseishoshikai)
After engaging in the support of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America as part of international humanitarian aid NGOs, she changed her life course, and became an immigration lawyer to support foreign nationals in Japan. In addition to supporting foreign nationals with their residence status (visa) or nationality procedures, she provides consultations to small- and medium-sized companies on utilization of human resources from overseas countries.
As an immigration lawyer who is specialist on residence status/nationality, she provides legal support regardless of country or visa type. She likes to tackle with difficult cases under special circumstances, and she is actively challenging on procedures of special type of visa such as “Technical Intern Trainee” and “Specified Skilled Worker” etc.

  • Civil member of Human Rights Policy Promotion Council at Kawasaki City Civic Cultural Rights/Gender Equality Participation Department
  • Member of Professional Group for supporting companies on employment of foreigners at Kawasaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Management Consultant (employment of foreigners) at Kawasaki Institute of Industrial promotion
  • Volunteer of Kawasaki International Association
  • Coordinator of research on Specified Skilled Worker visa at Kanagawa Federation of Small Business Associations
Living in JAPAN VISA

Living in Japan VISA will help companies who want to hire foreign people and foreigners who want to work in Japan by introducing notary publics who are specialized in Residency Status to end up with “worry-free hiring and worry-free job.”