It’s hard to know what to do if you want to sponsor your own visa, as the Japanese Immigration authorities wouldn’t know what you meant if you asked about this. That’s because there is no such thing as a self-sponsored visa, but then why are so many people talking about it and asking about it on online forums like Reddit or in Facebook groups?
It’s actually just a way to get a part-time employer to sponsor your visa and using the “Permission to Engage in Activities” forms to fill in your other part-time jobs! Sounds simple right? There are a few things you need to keep in mind and that caused me quite a headache when I got one of my clients to sponsor my visa so I could continue working part-time with the higher pay that comes with it. More on how to get higher paying part-time jobs here.
First you need to get the right form. Many freelance photographers, teachers and engineers use the Humanities, International Services and Engineer visa now, and you can find that form to renew it here.
You’ll need to bring some things with you to immigration:
You won’t be beholden to one company anymore
This is the biggest one for me. When people think of one job as secure, I am really confused what they are talking about. If your boss turns around and fires you (this has happened to me before), suddenly you have a desperate scramble to find another job or you’ll be out on the street! For me, if a client or a part-time job is a pain to work with, I can easily find something else to replace that part of my income without worrying about losing my livelihood. Worst case scenario, as a writer I can just do more freelance writing work online to bring in a little extra money while I look for other jobs.
Part-time jobs pay a lot more per hour
If you calculate your actual hourly rate from your full time job, don’t be surprised if you’re only making maybe ¥1500 or ¥2000 per hour. I know I was, even when I was making ¥4,000,000 per year at a private school, I realised that my hourly rate was just a hair above ¥2000. Now I don’t get out of bed for less than ¥3500 per hour, and often make a lot more than that. These options open up when you start working in the part-time teaching space, especially if you have the skills and credentials to back it up.
You’ll have more options in what kind of work you do
Most of the photographers, models, voice actors and top-paid teachers I know are self-sponsoring their visa so they can do the kind of work that they are passionate about. If you are just stuck at one company and need to stay there for a paycheck and a roof over your head, you might be missing out on doing the kind of work that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning!
This worked for me and it has worked for a lot of other people in Japan, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you, at least on your first try. The first immigration officer I got told me to come back with just one company. I just went again the next day with mostly the same paperwork and got a different immigrations guy at the desk, and he put through all my paperwork quickly. First guy must not have had his coffee that day, eh?
As always with this kind of advice, always always consult with a lawyer before doing anything. My lawyer helped me get all of my paperwork in order and apply for the correct permissions to do my other side work, so you definitely should do that too.