I applied for a position with a small company in Japan (I live in the US). The company obtained (at their expense) the documentation for me to apply for a visa that would allow me to work legally in Japan, but the project my position was for got cancelled in the meantime (they informed me from the beginning of the application process that the position was uncertain).

The company has offered me the option of starting employment with them next year, but expressed understanding that I will likely need a job before that, and also offered to mail the documentation to me now, so that I can apply for an employment visa and look for other work in my field in Japan (it will expire before next year). Having a valid visa in hand would put me at a huge advantage in my job search.

In short, a prospective employer obtained something invaluable for me, using their time and at their expense, when I have not done anything for them. Is it appropriate to simply accept their offer to mail the documents? (I may want to work for this company in the future).

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    @Rai You should call up your consulate. Information may differ depending on where you're from. I've read you shouldn't have problems changing jobs, but never working at the place that sponsored your visa is very unlikely to be okay.
    – Rob
    Aug 1, 2019 at 6:44
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    IANAL, but applying for a japanese labor visa without beeing actually employed seems extremely fishy. Your other employer will have to make the paperwork again if they want to hire you anyway. I would also strongly advise reconsidering if you want to work for a company whose HR people are so sloppy as to propose you this.
    – armand
    Aug 1, 2019 at 6:54
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    Does the visa tie you to a single employer (such as an H1 does in the USA)? If so, it is of no use to another company (unless it is easier to transfer an existing visa than to obtain a new one)
    – Mawg
    Aug 1, 2019 at 7:00
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    The title of your question says they obtained a visa for you. The body of your question says they obtained the documentation for you to apply for a visa. Which is it? What is actually included in that documentation?
    – jcaron
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:55
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    Work visas are usually come as a sticker on your passport. Have you submitted your Passport at Japanese counsulate and obtained visa? Or your potential employer prepared the documentation (Certificate of Eligibility (COE)) of which, next step is applying for Visa? If only documentation is prepared, it's highly likely that it won't be valid as that employer no longer wants to hire you.
    – Swanand
    Aug 1, 2019 at 14:17

5 Answers 5


It's OK to accept the documents but read the conditions of the visa very carefully before you move your life to Japan.

You quite likely actually don't have a valid visa (and can't get one using the documentation prepared by the company), since being employed by the company sponsoring the visa is probably a condition for it to be valid.

  • Agreed to fully read the conditions, but in many countries it is far easier to transfer a visa from one company to another than it is to get a new visa approved, so this is still very valuable.
    – David K
    Aug 1, 2019 at 12:05
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    @DavidK for sure, but if the visa was never valid to start with then you can find yourself in some really stressful and expensive trouble even years later, as (depending on the country and the type of visa) all of the subsequent ones may have been invalid too, due to the first one. Someone I know learned that the hard way and had to pay a ton of money to an immigration lawyer or face deportation and separation from their child (who was born in the country that they didn't actually have a valid visa for). Better to be sure at the start.
    – Player One
    Aug 1, 2019 at 12:10
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    Don't forget to thank the company for this gesture! It costs them nothing (since they already had made the investment), but they didn't have any obligation to send you the papers, either. Aug 1, 2019 at 18:01
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    Read the visa. In my visa working in a European country, it specifically states that I am not tied to the employer that got me the visa. I can change employer at any time, and visa renewals are done by me personally. Aug 2, 2019 at 8:37

Engineering visas in Japan do not tie you to a single employer, at least not in practice; most of my several visa renewals were done under a different employer from the sponsor of the prevous visa and the immigration authorities had no problem with this.

However, to get or renew a visa you must have a sponsor (scroll down a bit to "Employer") who will be required to show that they are capable of employing and paying you, are or are going to do so, that they have an office, and the like.

In this case, if the employer isn't committing to employing you immediately, I would guess that immigration would not issue a visa, so your problem is likely moot.

Additionally, the documentation to apply for a visa doesn't cost anything, as far as I'm aware; you just go down to the immigration office and get it (at least if you're in Japan). I've always used an immigration lawyer for my visas, but I have plenty of friends who have done the entire renewal process themselves.

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    Legally you are required to report both leaving the job that is sponsoring you, and joining a new company in a timely manner. In practice, many people get away without doing so, but I wouldn't count on it, as it could have huge consequences if you are one of the unlucky ones. Aug 1, 2019 at 10:29

Yes. It's okay. Take it.

The position was uncertain. So the company took a risk and applied on your behalf anyway. It didn't work out for them, not this time anyway. But the visa exists now, and I guess they thought you'd like to have it regardless.

So thank them and take the visa documents.

  • Exactly, what I would do! Jul 31, 2019 at 22:21
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    It's not a visa yet, it's documents he needs to apply for a visa.
    – J_rite
    Aug 1, 2019 at 6:59
  • How do you know it's okay? If this was happening in my country, I would have answered like you but this is Japan, do you know the culture to be able to answer in such a way?
    – Nettle
    Aug 1, 2019 at 15:55
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    Because they offered. And tbh, even this would have subtly annoyed the company not offering a job, who cares? Whether or not the documents are sufficient to live in Japan isn't what the OP asked, I'm sure the OP will understand what they are once they're in the OPs hands.
    – Nathan
    Aug 1, 2019 at 20:08

I'm not an expert in Japanese culture or business dealings. But in many cultures, it's common practice to offer something with the expectation that it will be rejected or politely declined. It can be as simple as a gesture of goodwill or even something of value.

Strongly suggest you seek advice from someone you trust who is knowledgeable of Japanese customs and behaviors before accepting or rejecting. The 'how' you respond can also have significances.

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    This custom usually applies (1) to gifts of value to the giver and (2) to gifts offered in-person. If the gift has no value to the giver (as is the case of a visa) and is offered remotely then it would be a great waste for the receiver to refuse.
    – lsusr
    Jul 31, 2019 at 23:50
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    I'll add that this "refuse gifts at least twice or it's rude" thing was explained to me as some weird foreign quirk of Japanese culture, an unexpected pitfall I had to look out for. Turns out, in practice, this was nonsense, it was just basic manners anyone from most any culture can understand easily, just a touch more common and sincere in Japan (generally speaking).
    – MGOwen
    Aug 1, 2019 at 2:15
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    This answer makes me think of Arrested Development! Aug 1, 2019 at 14:59

Aside from goodwill value... it preserves the sunk cost in creating the data, without the costs of securing the data.

They have two risks. First in misplacing the data; you're less likely to do so since you have personal stake. That could spare them the costs of re-creating it.

Second in a data breach. Remember it's all Personally Identifiable Information, so they have to comply with the law in its handling. They don't have to for data they didn't keep.

So it makes perfect sense to offer you the file, then delete it.


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