At a Glance

  • A new employer-sponsored subcategory of the Designated Activities work visa has been introduced for foreign graduates of universities in Japan who seek to stay and work in the country after graduation.
  • Prior to the introduction of this visa, the only option available to this category of workers was sponsorship by an employer under the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa.
  • This new work visa category expands the work options available to these graduates and also addresses labor shortages in Japan.

The situation

A new employer-sponsored subcategory of the Designated Activities (DA) work visa has been introduced in Japan that expands the available work options for foreign graduates of universities in Japan.

A closer look

  • No limit on eligible industries. There are no designated industries for this DA work visa subcategory. Therefore, unlike other DA visa subcategories, this visa is available to employers/sponsors from any industry or job sector.
  • Initial validity period and renewal. The new work visa is granted with an initial validity of three months, six months, one year, three years or five years, based on the duration of the assignment and the discretion of the adjudicating officers, and may be renewed for a maximum period of stay of up to five years.
  • Eligibility. To qualify, applicants must have obtained at least a Bachelor's degree from a university in Japan, be sponsored in a full-time or permanent position, receive a minimum salary of JPY 200,000 per month, and pass a Japanese language proficiency test equivalent to an N1 certificate (according to the trade organization's rating of N1 - N5) or Business Japanese Proficiency Test score of higher than 480 points.
  • Sponsoring dependents. Work visa holders under this category can sponsor their spouse or children as their dependents.


The new work visa significantly expands the job opportunities available to eligible foreign university graduates who seek employment in Japan after graduation. Under this visa, they can be sponsored to work in any industry or job type, including semi-skilled jobs that are not covered by the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa. Prior to this, the only option available to such graduates was to be employed in jobs related to their university degree or to exit the country.

Employers in industries experiencing labor shortages will also benefit from this new work visa and will now be able to sponsor qualified applicants.


The new work visa was introduced by the government in its continuing effort to address serious labor shortages in Japan by opening up the labor market to qualified foreign nationals. It complements previous immigration initiatives, including the introduction of two new categories semi-skilled work visas and a special visa for Foreign Workers in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The existing Designated Activities is a "catch-all" visa category usually applicable to foreign nationals who do not fall under the other visa categories.

Looking ahead

The government is expected to continue to relax its immigration policies to encourage qualified foreign nationals to work and stay in Japan. This effort will continue until labor shortages, brought about by an ageing population, are adequately addressed.

When crafting immigration policy, continuing concerns over the ability of foreign workers to integrate effectively into Japanese society will tip the balance in favour of foreign nationals with previous exposure to Japanese culture and proficiency in the language over those who lack such background and skill. However, urgent labor needs of key industries may compel the government in some instances to open immigration to more foreign workers, especially in semi-skilled positions, but such visas may be highly regulated.

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