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Requirements for 10 years experience for a Working Visa

Hey forum and Paul, first of all thanks for the articles. They have been helpful in evaluating options.

I have questions related to the requirements for applying for a visa. In the article about Getting Your First Programming Job in Japan it mentions 10 years professional experience is an option to go for a visa.

Are there any guidelines on what is considered experience that can be submitted for evaluation? I’ve heard conflicting opinions about it before. For economic and later personal reasons I was never able to finish an undergraduate degree, but I do have years of university credits in undergraduate software courses. I had jobs in Help Desks, and as Tech Support in the hotel industry, which are tangentially related to IT but not software development per se. I’ve had yearly timed contracts and around 4 years permanent contracts in actual development as well.

How can I know (and prove to any evaluator) what experience to submit for it to count for the 10 years? What about part time jobs? How about education besides universities like certifications?
I’ve had conversations with recruiters that were interested in my skillset, since I’ve also invested some time in learning conversational level Japanese, but the lack of an undergrad paper usually is the stopper.

tl;dr I’d like to know what documents I could add up to justify 10 years experience if I can’t produce an undergrad degree to apply for a working visa in Japan.

One reason why a university degree is preferred is it makes it clear you’re eligible for a visa. Without that, there’s no way to know for sure until you apply, which you can only do when a company is willing to sponsor you.

To get a visa via the ten years experience route, Japanese immigration want’s to establish you’re a professional in your field of engineering.

For documenting work experience, anything that can prove your experience can count. For instance, a letter of employment from the company, or a contract for instance. Whether the experience is full-time employment, freelance work, or even part-time doesn’t seem to matter. Though apparently experience as an intern won’t count (but again, I think this is probably on a case-by-case basis).

Experience from university, even if you don’t complete your degree, can count, so long as it is related to your field of engineering. So can other education specific to your field. Again, there’s no set format, but university transcripts could work for example.

Recruiters are interested in candidates they can easily place. Because your visa eligibility isn’t so clear, they’re not going to want to risk introducing you to a company, only for you to not be able to obtain a visa. So I doubt trying to work with external recruiters will lead anywhere, at least for the time being.

You might be able to get further when applying directly to companies. If a company is exceptionally motivated to hire you, it could be worth their while to try and get a visa for you. But you’re going to need to be way above the other candidates they’re considering.

The good thing is the more professional experience you accumulate, the more clear your visa eligibility will become. Once you have ten years of working as a developer full time, your lack of a degree shouldn’t be much of an issue anymore, as it will be readily clear you’re eligible.

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Your study experience, if relevant to your job position and by relevance, I mean it doesn’t need to be exactly 1:1 but something that, in the mind of the person evaluating your case over at the ministry of justice, considers as a “helper” to your position, can count in your 10 years experience.

I recently got this confirmed by an immigration agent who works on immigration cases daily.

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