I’m Takashi Akeyama, a representative of the Niseko VISA & Immigration Support Centre. As the only administrative office in Hokkaido specializing in VISA & Immigration and tourism, we help foreigners living in Hokkaido, mainly in Niseko, Otaru and Sapporo areas, to apply new or extend VISA, to change the status, such as working visas and spouse visas etc..
In this article, I will explain how a person with a ski instructor visa (Designated activity No. 50) can change to a different type of working visa. If you want to stay and work in Japan year-round after the snow season is over, you will need to change your visa type that meets the requirements of the job description. The visa change process can take times, so it is advisable to decide your plan and start preparing the paperwork as soon as possible. If you are unsure about the procedure, please check this article.
Ski instructor visa
Those who come to Japan as ski instructors are entitled to a Designated activity No. 50 (ski instructor). The activity (job description) possible with this visa is ski instruction. Therefore, if you wish to work other than ski instruction, such as office work or customer service work in a restaurant, with this visa, you will be considered to be engaged in an activity other than that permitted under the status of residence (i.e. illegal employment). Therefore, the period of stay for a ski instructor visa is usually six months, which is the period when there is snow in Japan and the activity as a ski instructor is possible. Most ski resorts are open from December to the end of March, so the period of stay is granted to cover this period. If you want to stay and work in Japan during the green season, you will need to change your visa to one that allows you to do something other than ski instructing. So when should you apply for the change?
When should you change my visa type?
The time to apply to change from a ski instructor visa to another working visa is within the validity period of your current ski instructor visa; if you miss the period by even one day, not only you will not be able to change, but you will also be punished as an illegal resident (overstay). Make sure to complete the application within the validity period. If you have completed the application, you can continue to stay in Japan even after the period of validity has expired. However, please note that you cannot work at your new place of work because you have not been granted permission to change your working visa.
Which working visa can you change?
When choosing a new job, you must first choose one that is eligible for a work visa, i.e. one that is recognized as a job description for a working visa. For example, if you are doing so-called white-collar office work, you may be eligible for a ‘技術・人文知識・国際業務’ visa, or if you are coaching other sports, you may be eligible for a ‘技能 Skills’ visa. For more information on what possibilities are available, it is advisable to consult with the immigration office or an application handling administrative scrivener（申請取次行政書士）.
Who can change to another work visa?
Not all people can be granted permission to change their visa, even if their work meets the requirements of the status of residence (working visa). Each visa has its own detailed set of requirements for the applicant. In other words, the number of years of education, employment, qualifications and work experience is determined in detail for each visa, and if you do not meet these requirements, your application for change of status will not be granted. For example, in the case of technician countries, educational background is strictly regulated, and if the education is only overseas, the applicant must have a degree from a junior college or higher education institution, or from a vocational school or higher education institution if the education is in Japan. In addition, the content of your studies and courses at the higher education institution must match or be related to the job you intend to engage in. For example, a person who majored in business administration at university may work in accounting/finance or public relations/marketing, or a person who majored in information technology may work as a system engineer or web designer, etc. If there is a strong connection or match between the content of the major or course and the job, it is likely that the change will be permitted. Regardless of the field of study, if you have graduated from a Japanese four-year university and hold N1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, you can also fulfil the requirements for applying for ‘Designated activity No. 46′. If you have not graduated from an institution of higher education, for example, if you graduated from a high school or vocational school abroad or from a Japanese language school in Japan, you will not be able to fulfil the education requirements. Such persons need to have at least 10 years’ work experience in the same field as the job for which they are seeking employment. This work experience can be demonstrated by submitting a certificate of employment issued by the company they were employed by. If you cannot provide this certificate, it is difficult to change your visa as you cannot objectively prove your work experience.
In this article I have explained the procedures for changing from a ski instructor visa to another work visa. Which visa can be changed is based on the job description that you wish to take on, and the applicant’s education and work experience. In particular, for working visa, it is important to have objective documents that can clearly prove the relevance of the work experience, major or course of study to the job description. It is also, of course, very important to complete the change procedure within the period of validity of the current visa.
The Niseko VISA & Immigration Support Centre help and support foreign nationals who are trying to overcome language, cultural and custom barriers and live as a member of Japanese society. If you have any questions or enquiries about this article, or changing working visa from ski instructor visa, please feel free to contact us by phone or via the ‘Free Consultation Form‘ on our website.