tokyodev forum

Investor visa for own freelancing without qualifications for engineering visa

Heya, so I have no formal education and I don’t have enough years of experience (5 years right now) so if I wanted to get hired as an software engineer in Japan I’d normally have to pass the PhilNITS.

I’m also eyeing the investor visa, but here’s my question about that:

Can I get an investor visa for a business that is essentially me running my own software engineering freelancing endeavours without being myself qualified for an engineering visa? My freelancing endeavours would be mostly with external clients, at least to begin with. Plus perhaps at some point selling my own products.

Are there particular complications involved with that?

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

Freelancing as an individual isn’t covered by an investor visa, so you’d need to start a Japanese company that you’d use to bill clients. I’ve never gone through this process myself, but as I understand it, you need to incorporate first, then apply for a visa.

If you’re not already based in Japan, you’ll probably need to hire a company to help with that. Assuming you need English support, it will probably cost about 1 million JPY. This can come out of the 5 million JPY you’ll need to invest in the company to be eligible for a visa.

Just having a company isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be granted a visa though. Immigration will be looking for proof that it is a viable business, and as a new company, you won’t have financial records for this. So having contracts between that company and clients for instance might be necessary.

This overhead is what makes this visa less attractive, and so it requires you to make a fair amount of commitment to establishing a business here. If you were to pursue it further, the next step would probably be searching for a company that can help you with the incorporation, accounting, and visas. I don’t have any specific recommendations for this.

So if I read that right:

  1. Incorporate a viable business (e.g. via longer term contracts).
  2. Get investor visa as owner of the Ltd.
  3. Do the work the Ltd. now has promised by contract, whilst living in Japan.

Is that right? I ask mostly because I realize it has to be viable etc., I’m just wondering if the investor visa itself allows me to live in Japan while I deliver engineering work. Cause you know, usually I’d need an engineer visa to be able to work in Japan and deliver engineering work.

That’s pretty much my understanding of it. Japan no longer requires a director of a company to be a resident of Japan, so theoretically, you could for instance create the Japanese company, perform work (and pay taxes), and then apply for a visa. I’d imagine being able to show that your company has paid tax would increase the chances of getting a visa, but getting advice around that is something that is best left to the professional.

Once you have the visa, I don’t think immigration cares much about how you perform your duties as the director of the company. So if you spent most of your time coding, that shouldn’t be an issue, and I know at least one person who has been doing this (though I think he was already a resident of Japan when he incorporated, making things simpler).

Interesting. Thank you!

If there’s ever an update on this. I’ll update here as to how things go.