I have been working in Japan as a company employee with a work visa for eight years. I like Japan, and would like to stay here in the long run. So I am wondering if I could apply for a permanent residency visa at this point.
At the same time I got an offer from a venture company which brings me an opportunity to try a new career. I would like to take this offer. Is there anything I should think about?
Let’s address your first point. In principle, permanent residency is an option for those who have stayed in Japan for more than 10 years consecutively* .
For a person who have stay with a work visa, technically eight years is an insufficient amount of time to apply for permanent residency, however sometimes an exception is made. For example if you have a special skill or educational degree you may want to submit a request. One such case is a person who had obtained a Ph.D. from a Japanese University and continued to work for a research institute. Another example is one applicant who was working as a business person, but had worked as medical doctor in their home country.
When considering if you qualify as having a “special skill” you should start by referencing the “Points-based System for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals”. If a person is qualified as a “highly skilled professional”, five years of consecutive work experience in Japan in the field is sufficient to apply for permanent residency.
Therefore, if a person has some special skills or experience, even if they do not qualify as a “highly skilled professional”, it is worth applying as long as you can produce a convincing and strong case. If you do not possess any particular skills or experience, it is better to wait till ten years have passed.
*N.B. there are different period required by visa status; for example for those who have a spouse visa which was granted via marriage to a Japanese national or permanent resident, it shorten to 3 years, and for those who have a long term resident visa, it shorten to 5 years. )
This is a question about the second half. Congratulations on your opportunity to take your desired career to the next level. However, from the viewpoint of applying for permanent residency, it is necessary to undertake careful judgment. One requirement for permanent residence is an item called “to have the longest period of stay.”1 In other words, it can take up to 3 years or 5 years (the amount of time in special measures are also considered to be up to three years2), to obtain the status of residence, at each stage you will be asked to apply for permanent residence or be at the stage to apply for permanent residence and the stage to receive permanent residence. Generally when you change jobs and join a smaller scale company, even in the case that up until then you renewed (your visa) every 3 or 5 years, it is now common to shorten it to one year. If you do so, you will no longer meet the requirements for permanent residence. In addition, during the review period for permanent residence application (usually 6 to 8 months), if the renewal date of your residence status comes up and you change occupation, the status of residence after the update is likely to become one year long. Then, at this time the residence permit will no longer meet the “longest” requirement and permission will not be given. Although the residence period will not necessarily be shortened by changing jobs, if you are thinking of changing to a new company that is slightly smaller scale in size, from the viewpoint of reliably acquiring permanent residence status, I think it is first best to obtain permanent residence and then change jobs.