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FAQs - Frequently asked Questions about Working Holidays in Japan


1. FAQs about Jobs

> Which ones are typical jobs for Working Holidays in Japan?
Typical Jobs are:
  • Service staff at Restaurants, Hotels, Fast Food, Bars, Cafés
  • Nanny & childcare
  • Foreign language teacher at formal language schools (typically only with formal qualification) or (without formal qualification and also as non-native speakers) at language cafés and other schools/clubs where English is used in an informal way while doing a hobby (e.g. sports, music, theatre)
  • Cleaning staff
  • Delivery services and Moving Companies
  • Security Guard (e.g. making sure no pedestrians fall into a construction pit)
  • Sales person at shops (usually only with better language skills)
  • Factory Work (e.g. packaging goods, loading and unloading cargo)
  • Sports instructor (with relevant skills)
  • Farm work (outside of Tokyo)
If you have some professional qualification and/or advanced knowledge of the Japanese language, it is possible to get more qualified positions on a higher salary.
> How do I get a job?
In case of our Standard Working Holiday Program in Tokyo:
  • Our Job Counselling Session will extensively prepare you for everything you need to know about the Japanese working environment. We will also practise a job interview with you.
  • Furthermore, prior to your arrival there will be a skype training session with an intercultural focus related to "Working with Japanese people".
  • We will accompany you to the Japanese employment office, where there is access to a huge database of jobs that don't require native Japanese language skills.
  • We will translate your CV/resume from English to Japanese.
  • Our office is open for 4 hours every weekday to help you find a job: We browse online job boards for you to identify suitable jobs and help you with the application letter and communication in Japanese, as well as with legal stuff (e.g. checking work contracts).
  • Almost every day we publish available positions on our participants' internal LINE group.
  • At our office you can use a computer and printer to search for jobs and to print your application documents.
  • You can make use of our support during the full year of your stay in Japan, so also for instance if after some time you want to change the job.
In case of pre-arranged jobs:
We will arrange skype/phone job interviews for you prior to your arrival to Japan, during which you will typically be told straight away whether you have been accepted. We will arrange an unlimited number of job interviews for you, until you have been accepted. Typically, it is however not necessary to do more than 1-2 job interviews to get a job confirmed.
> Do I need to be fluent in Japanese?
No, for the jobs in Tokyo you don’t even need to know any Japanese, but it is of course of advantage to know at least some basics, as there will be more job options available in this case.
Jobs you can get without any knowledge of Japanese include English teacher, English-language childcare jobs, jobs in Western restaurant, cafés and bars such British pubs, English tea rooms, American diners, Italian Pizzerias, German beer gardens and similar, or jobs for which little spoken language is needed such as cleaning, packaging goods or light factory work.
If you don't know Japanese, you should at least be able to communicate in English. Without a sufficient level of English it is difficult to get a job in Tokyo.
For some pre-arranged jobs (e.g. farmwork, ryokan and ski resort jobs) basic conversational language skills are required.
> Is there a 100% job guarantee?
If you book our programs Farm work or Ryokan/Hotel Jobs we give you a job guarantee. If you already have basic conversational skills of Japanese, we will arrange skype/phone job interviews for you prior to your arrival, and we can confirm the exact position including all details (salary, accommodation) prior to your arrival. If your Japanese language level is not sufficient, you should first join 4 weeks of language lessons in Tokyo, and you will do the job interview afterwards. In any case, we can guarantee you that you will get a position, as we will arrange an unlimited number of job interviews for you (we cooperate with 10,000 farms and 6000 ryokans all over Japan that permanently hire staff). Typically it is not necesarry though to do more than 1 or 2 job interviews to get a job confirmed.
If you book our Standard Working Holiday Package Tokyo, we will help you IN TOKYO to find a job. In this case there is NO 100% job guarantee as the job confirmation also depends on you. We will inform you how to succeed in the job hunt and we will prepare you for job interviews. However it is up to you to actually pass a job interview. With our help almost all participants can get a job within 2 weeks.
In 2019, we had almost 1200 participants for our Working Holiday Program in Japan and only around 1% of them have difficulties getting a job.
You can face difficulties:
  • If you neither know Japanese nor you are able to communicate properly in English. If you don't know Japanese you must be able to communicate well enough in English.
  • If you are not flexible enough concerning the type of job to accept, for instance if you insist on a job which might be difficult for you to get in Japan (e.g. higher qualified jobs such as engineer if your level of Japanese is rather low). You should be willing to accept alternative jobs if your dream job cannot be achieved. You might still later (once your Japanese language skills are better) change the job and possibly get your dream job.
  • If you don't follow our advice regarding dressing style, physical appearance (e.g. hairstyle), or behaviour at the job interview. In Japan, there are very strict norms for this.
  • If you are not proactive, e.g. if you don't attend your job interview, or if you seem not to be really interested in the job during the interview.
> Do I work part time or full time?
Both is possible and you can decide what you prefer. There are no legal restrictions about how many hours you are allowed work and how much you can earn.
> Can I work and join language lessons at the same time?
Yes, this is possible. The language lessons at the formal language school are 4 x 50 minutes from Monday to Friday (morning or afternoon turn, depending on the course), so you can simultaneously do a part time job.
If you take language lesson at a Community Centre with less intensity than at the formal language school, you can even do a full time job.

2. FAQs about Finances

> How are the living costs in Tokyo?
If you stay at our Share House, a dorm bed is 38,000 Yen per month (around 290 EUR/460 AUD/440 CAD/255 GBP). For self-catering (e.g. cooking by yourself and/or eating out at affordable places) you need at least 30,000 Yen (around 250 EUR/400 AUD/370 CAD/220 GBP) per month. In addition you need a commuter ticket to reach your work place or language school, which depending on the locations is around 7000-10,000 Yen per month.
So the minimum living costs are around 75,000 Yen per month (around 620 EUR/930 AUD/930 CAD/550 GBP).
> How much do I earn through my Working Holiday job?
In Tokyo you typically make between 1000-1500 Yen (8.30-12.40 EUR/13.30-20 AUD/12.50-18.70 CAD/7.30-11 GBP) per hour. However, from this amount an income tax of 20.42% is usually immediately deducted. If you work 28 hours per week (part time) this means after taxation you will have around 95,000 to 130,000 Yen per month (around 785-1080 EUR/1260-1730 AUD/1180-1620 CAD/700-950 GBP). If you work 40 hours per week (full time) it is around 130,000-200,000 Yen per month (1080-1650 EUR/1730-2660 AUD/1620-2500 CAD/950-1460 GBP).
For the farmwork and ryokan jobs that we arrange in smaller cities, the salary is around 20% below this range, but also the living expenses are correspondingly lower there compared to Tokyo. In addition, in case of farm work/ryokan job, accommodation and meals are often subsidized by the employer and price-wise well below local averages. 
> Is it possible to fund my Working Holiday stay in Japan through my work?
This is easily possible and in most cases you can even save some money. Please compare living costs and salary ranges, as outlined in the two previous questions.
If you sum up all expenses including flight and our services, and compare it with your income (through your local salary), then as early as between the 2nd and 4th month (depending on the amount of hours you work, when you start your work, and the salary) your income will exceed your total expenses. This means, if you stay for 4 months or longer in Japan, you will at the end have more money than before your travel to Japan.
> How much money do I need to be able to join this program?
You must be able to pay for your flight, for our service package, and to cover 2 months of living costs (see above) + your travel health insurance (around 40 EUR/month). This means, in total you need around 2800 EUR/4300 AUD/4200 CAD/2500 GBP.
Typically you find a job within 2 weeks after your arrival, but it may happen that you will only receive your first salary at the end of the second month, so you should be able to cover this period of time.
Comparing expenses and income, you will relatively quickly break even (within the 2nd and 4th month).
It is furthermore required to proof certain financial means on your bank account to apply for the visa.
You should have a credit card to be able to access money in the beginning of your stay.

3. FAQs about the Program and Planning your year in Japan

> Who can join the Working Holiday program in Japan?
Everyone who can get a Working Holiday Visa for Japan can take part. At the time of applying for the visa (which can typically be done earliest one year prior to arriving to Japan for the nationalities for which there is no restriction of the total number of annual Working Holiday visas being issued, and 3 months for those nationalities for which there is such restriction), you need to be 18 to 30 years old. You only get the Working Holiday Visa once in a lifetime.
The Working Holiday Visa is currently available for nationals of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Slowakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Argentina, Chile, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany and Austria.
There are some exclusion criteria such as having a criminal record.
For some nationalities there is a maximum number of Working Holiday Visas that can be issued per year.
You can also book our Working Holiday packages if you have a Japanese passport. You would enter Japan then on your Japanese passport (without any restrictions in regards of duration of stay and type of jobs).
For other nationalities not listed above (e.g. US Americans), or if you are under 18 or above 30, or if you have already had a Working Holiday Visa for Japan before, it is only possible to participate on a different visa category, which is however limiting the possibilities (please see details below in the FAQS about "Visa").
> How does a year of Working Holiday in Japan usually look like?
In Japan, Working Holidays are usually NOT done in the style of a "Road Trip" as it is common for Working Holidays for instance in Australia, where you would constantly travel around and do short-time jobs (e.g. picking strawberries for a week). Such jobs are usually not available in Japan. You shoud rather stay longer (for a minimum of 3 months) at one location to realistically get a job there.
For this reason, you should not plan to stay at more than 4 locations in Japan during your year of Working Holiday. If you would like to explore more areas of Japan, you can use the time between jobs to travel around.
Most of our participants spend their first few months with us in Tokyo where they stay at the Share House, doing some kind of Working Holiday job. Many of them start with language lessons at the language school and simultaneously work part-time for 1-3 months. When their Japanese language level is getting better, some might change the part-time job to a full-time one, continueing language lessons with less intensity at a Community Centre, or with a tandem partner.
Once they are more familiar with jobs and processes in Japan, they often start to travel (possibly with other participants that they meet at the share house) to other cities such as Sapporo, Osaka or Kyoto where they arrange accommodation and a job on their own.
The minimum duration of our pre-arranged ryokan and farm work job options is 2 weeks and you can do them at any time during your year in Japan.
At other cities, we don't have any staff, but we can always be reached by Line, Whatsapp, Email, Skype or phone even when you are not in Tokyo. We can also provide you with information about other cities.
Many participants also prefer to stay their full year in Tokyo only, which is perfectly possible.
> When can I start the Working Holiday Program in Japan?
You can start throughout the year. You should arrive on any Friday between 8am and 8pm at one of Tokyo's airports (Haneda or Narita), from where we will pick you up and bring you to your accommodation. On the following days you will then get your support services.
If a Friday and/or the following days are important public holidays (typically: Golden Week - end of April/beginning of May; Obon - middle of August, and Christmas/New Year/Emperor's Birthday - end of December/beginning of January) there is no start of the program, as public offices, banks and the employment office are closed.
If you want to join a begginers' Japanese language course after your arrival, you should come to Tokyo latest on the Friday prior to the start of the new beginners' course. The start dates can be found on our page about Japanese language lessons in Tokyo.
If you arrive on a day other than Friday, you can either proceed directly to our Share House (please liaise with us about the time) at no extra cost, or we will pick you up from the airport or train station, but in this case an extra of 60 EUR applies.
> How long does the visa application take? When is the earliest moment I can arrive from today's day?
The processing time of the visa is typically around 2 weeks. This can however change. Please call at the Japanese Embassy/consulate in charge of you and ask how long they need to process the visa, if you apply for it now. Prior to applying for the visa, you need to book your flight and travel health insurance, our service package, and you need to prepare the documents needed for the visa application, and travel to the Japanese Embassy or consulate in person. Your passport will then be sent back to you by post.
To make sure everything works out time-wise, from today you should allow a lead time of 4 weeks until the date of your flight.
If you are of a nationality for which there is an annual limit of Working Holiday Visas being issued, please call at the Japanese embassy/consulate and ask whether it is still possible to apply.
> Do I have to stay for a full year in Japan or is it possible for a shorter duration?
You can stay for a maximum of one year, legally doing fully remunerated jobs, but you don't have to stay in Japan for a full year. You can terminate your Working Holiday at any time earlier. Please consider that you can only get the Working Holiday Visa once in a lifetime.
Some nationalities are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 180 days in Japan on a Working Holiday Visa.
> Do I have to start a job immediately after my arrival? Do I have to work at all?
You don't have to start work after your arrival if you don't want to. If you can afford, you don't even have to work at all.
Our job counselling session is offered once per week and we make weekly appointments at the employment office for our participants. You can make use of these services at any later time, it doesn't have to be on arrival. You can enjoy our job support during your whole year in Japan.
Even if you are on a Working Holiday Visa, nobody will force you to work. It is also possible just to take language lessons, to travel around, or to do nothing.
> Do I only get a starter package, which means support during my first week?
No, we are your contact partner throughout your year in Japan. Even if you are looking for a new job after some months, or you need any other help, you can always contact us.
Our office is open for participants on weekdays for at least 4 hours per day, and furthermore we are reachable by Line, Whatsapp, Email, Skype and phone.
> In which order do the necessary preparatory tasks (e.g. booking with World Unite!, booking a flight, applying for the visa) have to be accomplished?
The flight needs to be booked and also you need to make a contract with a travel health insurance before applying for the visa. Both is necessary to apply for the visa. Make sure when you book a flight, to arrive on a Fridday between 8am and 8pm at Haneda or Narita airport.
You should book your World Unite! support package as early as possible to make sure there is availability of your preferred accommodation option. Particularly during the months of August to January, which are the most popular to start the program, you should book early. If all beds are fully booked out at our own share house, we can arrange accommodation at one of our partner share houses, however they are not as centrally located as our own share house.
Once you have booked with World Unite! we will assist you with the visa application (we will provide advice and can check your application documents), so you should ideally book with us prior to applying for the visa.
> Do I have to make myself member of the Japanese National Health insurance?
Yes, in 2018 it has become mandatory to join the National Health system. You have to pay around 1500 JPY/month if this is your first year in Japan. The insurance covers 70% of the costs incurred for mecial checks, treatments and medication, but only for the cheapest available treatment method. Since medical expenses in Japan can be expensive and you may want better treatment than just the most basic ones, we recommend that you additionally get a travel health insurance. We'll help you to join the National Health insurance in Japan.
> In case of a pre-arranged farmwork, ryokan or ski resort job, do I directly travel there?
No, even if you want to start your job immediately after your arrival, you should first arrive to Tokyo on a Friday. We need to deal with your formalities such as tax number, bank account and phone contract. You will then travel to your work place.
> I want to live in Japan forever. Can you help me with this?
You should make best use of your year on a Working Holiday visa to get to know Japan and its work environment as good as possible and then decide whether you really want to stay there "forever" or at least for some longer time.
Should this be the case, you need to use your year in Japan to convince an employer to do all the efforts needed for a Japanese company to hire you, and to apply for your Employment Visa. You should also use the time to do networking.
We don't arrange any employment visa, but this has to be done by your employer instead.

4. FAQs about the visa

> Will World Unite! arrange my visa?
No, this is not possible. Only you in person can apply for the visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in charge of where you are a permanent resident. You have to go there in person to hand in your application documents.
We will inform you what to consider when applying for the visa, and we can also check your application documents before you hand them in.
> Where will I get the visa?
You get the Working Holiday visa only at the Japanese embassy or consulate of the country where you are a permanent resident.
> When do I have to apply for the visa?
The visa processing time is around 2 weeks. Please note that this may change though, therefore you should not apply for your visa at the very last minute. In countries where there is no restriction about the number of Working Holiday Visas issued per year, you can typically apply for the visa one year prior to the arrival date to Japan. At countries where there is a limit of the Working Holiday visas being issued per year, the visa can typically only be applied for 3 months prior to the scheduled arriving date to Japan.
The validity of the visa starts on the date when you enter Japan.
> What happens if my Working Holiday Visa is refused?
This doesn't realistically happen if you fulfil the visa requirements (e.g. age and nationality) and if you hand in the complete and properly filled application documents. We will give you advice about what to consider, and we can also check your application documents before you hand them in.
Should your visa still be rejected, we will refund all amounts paid.
> Can I apply for the visa while I'm still 17 years old? Can I start my Working Holiday with 31?
By the time when applying for the visa, you need to be 18-30 years old. So the earliest moment when you can apply for the visa is the day when you turn 18 years old. The latest moment when you can apply for the visa is one day before you turn 31. You have to arrive in Japan then within one year (for nationalities for which there is no restriction about the number of Working Holiday Visas being issued per year) or 3 months (for nationalities for which there is such restriction).
> Do I need a round trip (return) flight ticket to apply for my visa?
It is often difficult to book a return flight for a date more than one year ahead. It is however possible to apply for the Working Holiday Visa if you only have a one-way ticket to Japan, but in this case you need to prove higher financial means on your bank account, compared to if you hold a round trip (return) flight ticket.
> Is is worth it to make use of the Working Holiday Visa if I only plan to stay for a relatively short time (e.g. 2-3 months) in Japanl?
You can only get the Working Holiday visa once in a lifetime and it is valid for one year (for some nationalities only for 6 months). If you make use of it for only a few months, you will lose the validity of the remaining months. 
You should think whether you don't want to and have the time to stay for a longer time.
In case you can't or don't want to stay longer, instead of doing a Working Holiday you might consider an internship on a Temporary Visitor Status. Such internship cannot receive a salary, but accommodation and a commuter ticket can legally be provided free of charge by the internship company. Or you can join language lessons only for a few weeks on a Temporary Visitor Status. Depending on your nationality, on a Temporary Visitor Status you can stay between 30 and 180 days in Japan. If you then notice that you like Japan very much, you can return later for a longer duration on your Working Holiday Visa.
If you don't plan anyway to return to Japan later for a longer duration, you can of course also make use of the Working Holiday Visa only for a short duration of stay.
> Can I leave Japan while on a Working Holiday Visa and return within its validity?
Yes, the visa is a Mult-Entry Visa. When you leave Japan and you plan to return within the validity of the visa, you must mark this in the respective form at the airport when leaving the country.
> Which possibilities exist if I cannot get a Working Holiday Visa?
If you cannot get a Working Holiday Visa (because it doesn't exist for your nationality, or because you are under 18 or over 30, or because you have already had a Working Holiday visa before), the possibility exists, if you only want to come for a short duration, to do an unpaid internship on a Temporary Visitor Status, for which it is legally allowed that the internship company provides free accommodation and a free commuter ticket.
If you want to stay for a longer time and you also want to study Japanese, you can book full-time (20 hours/week) Japanese language lesson and then get a Student Visa and a Work Permit, allowing you to do any fully remunerated job for a maximum of 28 hours per week. You can then also book and make use of our Working Holiday support package.
There are fixed deadlines for the student visa when the application has to be submitted and when you can start you language lessons, with a typically lead time of 5-6 months. If you don't want to wait so long, you can already enter Japan before on a Temporary Visitor Status (validity 30-180 days depending on your nationality) and the Student Visa can then be issued in Japan. During the time you are on a Temporary Visitor Status you are not allowed to have an income in Japan, but you can join language lessons, or do an unpaid internship (for which free accommodation and a commuter ticket can legally be provided by the internship company).
You can stay in Japan for as long as you book full-time language lessons (even for several years). However, it is necessary to fully pay for your language lessons in advance for the whole duration. This is a requirement to get the Student Visa.
The process to get a student visa is relatively complicated. We will explain it to you.
> Can you arrange a work visa for me, allowing me to stay and work for several years in Japan?
No, we can't unfortunately. It has to be done by an employer who is willing to hire you for a longer duration.

5. FAQs about Accommodation

> Which accommodation options exist?
We run our own share house at a central location in Tokyo. Furthermore we cooperate with other share houses. At the share house you will share kitchen, communal areas, and sanitary installations with other participants of our programs. You can choose between single, twin and dorm room. At our partner share houses there are also young Japanese professionals staying.
Alternatively, we can also book you into a host family.
> Is the share house like a Hostel/Guest House?
No, it is rather comparable to an apartment shared by several people, which also implies that you have certain responsibilities.The house is managed by our staff who will assign certain tasks to the residents, such as removing garbage from kitchen, bathrooms, and dormrooms, or to be in charge of the tidyness of your dorm room.
There are certain houserules, including regulations about cleanliness and noise. If after an initial warning you disrespect these houserules, your deposit can be partially or fully retained, or the rental agreement can be cancelled.
There are staff who clean the communal areas such as kitchens, living rooms, sanitary installations, and corridors.
> Can I extend my stay at the share house in Tokyo?
If you would like to extend, please let us know as early as possible. You can of course extend if there is availability. If there is no space, we can book you into one of our partner share houses.
If you are unsure for how long you might need accommodation, it is better to book for a longer duration. In case you want to move our earlier, it is possible to cancel the rental agreement for the end of the month following the month during which you have submitted your cancellation to us in writing.
> Are the dorm rooms separated for males and females?
If possible, we try to separate, but this is not always possible as there are fluctuations to the total numbers of male and female participants staying at our house. We don't promise the separation.
> Does the World Unite! Share House close at night, e.g. from 10pm?
No, you can get in and out at any time.
> Can I invite acquaintances from Tinder or night clubs to the Share House? Can my friends and family visit me and stay there?
No, only persons who have booked with us and have a rental contract with us can enter and stay at the share house. Friends and familiy visiting you from home, can unfortunately not stay, as we don't have a hotel license.
> Can I store luggage at the World Unite! Share House while travelling around?
Yes, we have a luggage room where you can store luggage at no extra cost.
> Can I arrange my own accommodation in Tokyo and in this case do I get a discount on the service package?
You can arrange your own accommodation in Tokyo and still make use of our Working Holiday support services, but we doubt that you will find accommodation at a cheaper rate, except for it is located at a much less central area (which means you will have to spend more on commuting), or it is very small, or of poor condition.
There is no discount on the service package if you arrange your own accommodation. It means even more work for us if we have to do your residents registration, tax number application, and opening of a bank account at another part of Tokyo which is probably not so familiar to us.
> Can I return to the share house after having travelled around Japan?
Unfortunately this is not possible at our own share house, but we can book you into one of our partner share houses.

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