tokyodev forum

Proving 10 years of working experience


First of all let me start saying that this forum is great and really helpful for anyone thinking about doing IT in Japan (top posts already answered like 90% of the questions I had :grin:)

To give more background I’m 29 yo and had to drop my bachelors degree halfway due to financial reasons.

I’m planning on moving to Tokyo next year on a WHV and look for IT related jobs that could sponsor a working visa but I don’t know what documentation is needed to prove that I have been working as a developer for the past 10 years.

A quick summary of my career starting with the most recent job:

  1. Senior Software Engineer, 6 years in multinational IT company
  2. Software Engineer, 2 years of freelance work for local clients
  3. Junior Software Engineer, 2 years of shadowing two dev friends that were doing freelance work and helping them with minor things(unit testing, documentation, automation scripts, etc…)

I could easily prove #1 since I have all the payslips and could request a recommendation letter.

#2 and #3 I am not sure how to proceed

For #2 I was payed in cash and there wasn’t a contract, I might be able to get in contact with 1 of my clients, the other one sadly passed away a while ago.

For #3 even thou I was shadowing them, the freelance company that they worked with didn’t know that. I was not getting any economic compensation from this job, just experience.

What kind of documentation would I need to prove that #2 or #3 actually happened and count them towards the 10 years needed?


10 years is the minimum required if you want to start the application yourself but I know a few cases were they could get the COE with less than that. Usually big foreign contractors like Rakuten have ways to wave those requirements if they really want to hire someone.

I just published an article on this and other visa options.

As stated in the article, there isn’t any concrete guidelines for the format. Immigration just says to provide whatever you can. This is total guessing on my part, but I’d start by just documenting whatever you can. It could be a list of projects with timelines. Links to any website. And so on.

It sounds like when you were shadowing your friends, you weren’t getting paid. That’s probably going to be considered an “internship” by immigration, and thus not counted.

The good news is you’re elligible for a working holiday visa. Since that will allow you to get a job without worrying about any of this, I’d put my effort into making the most of that first. Remember that the working holiday visa is for a “holiday”, and so don’t plan on working full time when applying for it (if you happen to come across a great opportunity once the working holiday starts, that’s fine).

If you do get a job as a software developer while on your working holiday, and do a good job of it, the company will be motivated to keep you on as an employee. When it’s coming time to get a working visa, it’s likely they’ll hire an immigration consultant to help out, who will be able to give you much better and concrete advice.

Great article @pwim, really helpfull!

My company has hired people with less than 10 years of experience from abroad. I am not sure what are you asking exactly, this proof that you mention if to prove towarding the immigration office or for a company in specific?

In the company that I work for, the hiring process goes with the standard CV screening -> Interviews -> Offer letter and I don’t think people were ever requested to prove. If you have 10 years of experience, we expect to see that reflected on the CV and on the answers during the Interview.

If this question is for the immigration office, what kind of VISA are you targeting to need this 10 years of experience?

I thought that 10 years of experience were always needed to apply for a visa, even if the application was done through a company, but as @Rashik and you said it looks like that is not a “hard” requirement for some companies.

Really helpful info since I was struggling to contact my old boss from my 2nd job. I will try to prove my experience through my CV as you said. I’m aiming for any type of visa that would let me work in IT :slight_smile:


I’ve been a professional web developer for 13 years now, but the last five years or so have been purely freelance. Would those freelance years count towards the 10 years? I can provide evidence of contracts and invoices for most of those years if need be.

It’s my understanding that freelancing should be fine, but I’m not an expert on the topic. Since applications are handled on a case-by-case basis, I think the only way of knowing for sure is to submit an application.