Immmigration lawyer Maki Yamauchi from Office Glocals discusses the circumstances under which you can apply for permanent residency in Japan
Question: I am a graduate student studying here at a Japanese college. I heard from a friend that if you work at a university or other jobs, you can acquire permanent residency after 5 years. Is this true? Do you count 5 years from when you come to Japan or after you start working?
Answer: I believe the 5 year requirement is based on the “Guidelines for Contribution to Japan”. These guidelines outline requirements for foreign residents who have lived in Japan for 5 or more years but less than 10 years who desire to apply for permanent residency.
It is relatively easy to obtain for people who work for universities and other high level university educational organizations. The same goes for those who undertake educational and research activities or who have specialized skills in the private sector.
On the other hand, it is more difficult to obtain for people who are in the entertainment, sports and business sectors.
As to the question of whether someone can obtain permanent residency after working for 5 years, there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding.
For example lets take a person who entered Japan as an international exchange student. If this person finds employment after finishing their studies, the permanent residence permit application is recognized when he/she has continuously worked for 5 years or more AFTER they change to a work visa from a student visa. Studying 5 years does not qualify you for permanent residency.
Even though residency as a student and years working may be equal to 10 years or more combined, it is required that at least 5 years must have elapsed while on a working permit before you can apply for permanent residency.
For this reason, there are situations in which people who obtain a job after staying for 8 years or more as a student but cannot apply for permanent residency until five years have elapsed while here on a work visa.
For some examples of instances in which permission for permanent residency has been granted or not granted go to: www.nagmag.jp/permanent-residency/