More Visa Comments - Part Two

More Visa Comments - Part Two

We continue our visa questions with Marc Bergman of Strata Works, a local company consisting of accountants, judicial scriveners, immigration specialists and patent attorneys that offer a variety of services to allow clients to concentrate on their core businesses.

TL: Is it still commonplace for tourist visa users to find a job, then go to Seoul or HK to convert the permission stamp into a proper visa?

Marc: The short answer is no. While it is still possible to get the Certificate of Eligibility processed outside of Japan, i.e. Seoul or HK, since roughly a year and a half ago, the Ministry of Justice eased the requirements and it has been possible from that time to have the Certificate of Eligibility processed into a full visa by submitting a Change of Status of Residence application with the appropriate forms, and the Certificate of Eligibility at the Regional Immigration Office without leaving Japan. This saves a lot time and expense for people who previously had to leave for the sole purpose of converting the Certificate of Eligibility into a visa.

One thing to note is that the application asks for an Alien Registration Card number. If you ask the information help line you will be told to obtain the "Gaijin Card" prior to submitting the Change of Status of Residence application. However, this will only be temporary and once you receive the permission stamp and your visa is activated, you would then need to get a new one, so the Immigration Office itself advises Certificate of Eligibility recipients in this situation to submit their Change of Status of Residence without the Gaijin Card number, and then register at the local Ward or City Office afterwards.

TL: How good are the various immigration consultants around town? Which ones are regarded to be the best?

Marc: There are a growing number of immigration consultants emerging. While, officially a Gyoseishoshi (certified license holder in administrative law) is technically most qualified and recognized by the Immigration Office, often you will find that these individuals only follow the letter of the law and do not take other factors into effect.

The most important factor to look for is someone who has the same level of understanding as a Gyoseishoshi (or indeed is one), but also understands the high level of discretion that is practiced by the Immigration Office. It is also vitally important for the consultant to understand the overall business needs of the client. A good immigration consultant knows how to use this discretion to the client's advantage and understands the big picture.

Recently, I had a client who had just established a KK. The directors were foreign and one of them needed to extend his work visa, which was due to expire soon. An immigration consultant they initially contacted advised them that the only way to do it was to find a Japanese national who could take over as Representative Director, and only then could the company sponsor foreign employees, thus allowing the applicant to extend his work visa. This is not entirely bad advice, but somewhat disregards the overall business needs. A Representative Director holds substantial power over a business and to hastily put someone in place just to serve the need of a visa renewal is not good business practice. As it turned out, I advised the client to assume the post of Representative Director himself, and then helped him successfully change to an Investor/Business Manager visa. The visa extension was obtained and the integrity of the company directorship was also maintained.

As always, my contact details are simply:

Looking forward to getting some enquiries...