Business Visas for Japan by SHIMAX Legal


Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services Visa


This article will provide a general overview of the “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services (SHIS)” status of residence and a few of the requirements to apply. For purposes of this article, we will refer to a “Status of Residence” as a visa.

What is an Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa?

Approximately 75% of foreign nationals living and working in Japan who have completed post-secondary education and possesses a certain degree of technical or specialized skill have obtained an SHIS visa.

As the name suggests the SHIS visa consists of an “Engineer”, “Specialist in Humanities” and “International Services” component. Examples of such could be as follows.

Engineer: Work requiring knowledge of IT, chemistry, physics, engineering or other natural science (eg. an engineer) Specialist in Humanities: Work requiring knowledge of the arts or soft sciences (eg. corporate sales, marketing, accounting or legal) International Services: Specialized work generally considered to be suitable for foreigners than Japanese (eg. interpreters, translators)

Who can obtain a SHIS Visa?

In order to obtain an SHIS visa, an applicant must possess academic and work experiences related to the job description of the work they will be performing at their place of work in Japan.

The exact type of academic and work experiences needed will depend on the details of the work to be performed, however the following academic or practical experiences are required.

1. Academic Requirement

An applicant for a SHIS visa must have graduated with a Bachelors or Master’s Degree (or equivalent) from a university. Here “University” could mean either a school in Japan or in a foreign country, including junior colleges. Also, individuals who have completed trade school in Japan with a major in a field which matches the job description, may also apply for the SHIS visa.

Because educational systems tend to differ from country to country, first the submission of certification of graduation from a higher institute of education is required. However, in the case of some countries and education systems, it is common to see simple documents with titles such as “Diploma” or even “Certificate” and it can be difficult to determine the specific area of study and time spent receiving the higher education. In cases such as this, in order to determine that the degree matches the type of work to be performed, in some cases, Immigration requests a full transcript of grades and courses taken in addition to the graduation certificates.

2. Practical Requirement

The length of practical experience for the “Engineer” or “Specialist in Humanities” is a minimum of 10 years, and for “International Services” at least 3 years. If an applicant satisfies the academic requirements, then they can apply for the SHIS visa without possessing the practical experience. However, if an applicant has only completed high school level education and does not satisfy the academic requirement, they will need to demonstrate practical experience at a job where they performed work similar to the work to be performed in Japan. In such cases, practical experience must be proven through employment certificates issued by previous employers. When past employers have bankrupted or have ceased to exist, or a certificate of employment cannot be obtained, there is a high probability of the application being rejected on the basis of insufficient supporting documentation.


As described above, when applying for the SHIS visa, it is extremely important to show a correlation between the work to be performed in Japan and the applicant’s academic and practical experience. If such correlation is not deemed to be high enough, there is a high likelihood of the application being rejected. For example, when an applicant with a Computer Science degree will work as a system engineer, a high level of correlation will likely be acknowledged. However, if the same person was being hired to work as a floor sales person, it is unlikely that Immigration would recognize the connection between the field of study and the job description.