What is a Japan startup visa? How to apply for a Japanese startup visa? Who is eligible for a startup visa in Japan? Read on to know everything about a Japanese startup visa.
Japan is one of the best places for entrepreneurs to bring their business ventures to life. The country encourages entrepreneurs not only from within the country but from overseas as well. With this in mind, the Japanese government has designed a Startup Visa program and implemented it in certain municipalities. The idea is to push these cities into becoming an entrepreneurial mecca where start-ups can get the support required to thrive and see success.
Regular Visas Vs Japan Startup Visas
Foreign nationals wanting to set up a business in Japan would typically need to be qualified as Business Managers to acquire residency status. They would also need to buy a place of business, invest at least 5 million yen and hire a minimum of 2 full-time employees.
On the other hand, the Startup visa gives foreign entrepreneurs temporary residency status in certain municipalities so that there are minimal delays in starting their businesses. They do not need to meet the eligibility criteria mentioned above. Entrepreneurs have 6 months or 1 year depending on the municipality to set up their businesses. Post this, they are expected to convert their Startup visas to business manager visas.
Municipalities Offering A Japan Startup Visa
There are currently 14 municipalities known as National Strategic Special Zones in Japan offering Startup visas. These are:
- Kanagawa Prefecture
- Sendai City
- Kitakyushu City
- Niigata City
- Aichi Prefecture
- Kobe City
- Ibaraki Prefecture
- Mie Prefecture
- Fukuoka City
- Gifu Prefecture
- Osaka City
Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Sendai City, Kitakyushu City and Niigata City give entrepreneurs 6-months to set up their businesses while the remaining regions issue Startup visas that are valid for one year.
Entrepreneurial Ventures Being Targeted
Each region targets a different kind of business. The municipalities have discretion over picking the start-ups that they feel would be suited to the region.
For example, the Hokkaido Prefecture targets businesses in the agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries while the Kanagawa Prefecture focuses on industries in the life sciences, IT, robotics, energy and tourism industries. Some regions like the Hiroshima Prefecture and Imabari City do not target any specific industries and are open to all entrepreneurs.
Applying For A Japanese Startup Visa
Entrepreneurs can apply for a Japanese Startup visa independently or as part of a team. The latter varies from municipality to municipality. There are very few cases where two or more applicants work on establishing a common company.
Applications can be made from overseas by asking a Japanese citizen, friend residing in the country or immigration specialist to submit the document and application on the entrepreneur’s behalf. You do need to ensure that the person has the correct license.
Individuals currently in Japan on a long-term visa such as a student visa, work visa or spouse visa cannot apply for a Startup visa. However, foreigners in the country on a short-term visa such as a tourist visa can apply for this visa.
Documents Required A Japanese Startup Visa
The documents required to apply for a Startup visa in Japan vary from region to region. However, there are a few basic must-haves. All of these documents must be in Japanese. This includes:
- The applicant’s resume
- Copy of the applicant’s passport
- New Business Implementation Confirmation Application Form
- New Business Implementation Plan
- Proof of where the applicant will be staying in Japan
- Copy of the applicant’s recent bank statement
How To Apply For A Japanese Startup Visa?
Once you have all the documents in place, you can submit them to the local visa agency in Japan or ask someone to submit them on your behalf.
It takes about one month for an application to be screened. If the application passes the screening stage, the applicant will be invited for a final assessment and interview. Administrative scriveners can take the applicant’s place in the interview but it is not recommended. Sometimes, there may be questions asked that only the applicant can answer.
If the applicant clears the screening, he or she will be given a Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activity.
The applicant has three months to submit this certificate to the local immigration bureau along with a copy of all the documents submitted previously. A third copy of the documents should ideally be kept by the applicants for their own reference.
It will take another 1-2 months for a Certificate of Eligibility to be issued. Once the Certificate of Eligibility is issued, the applicant will need to visit the Japanese embassy in his or her home country and apply for a long-term visa.