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Independent contractor work in Japan--Visa info?

#1
I know this forum doesn't really specialize in this sort of thing, but I don't know where to get this kind of information, so hopefully someone knows or can point me in the right direction.

I am in Japan on an instructor visa teaching at public schools. However, since I'm applying for universities in Japan I wanted some extra income and applied for Leapforce, which is just a company that does research for search engines. I'll basically be evaluating Japanese websites and search results (their bi-lingual positions pay pretty well!), though Leapforce is an American company.

Anyway, I passed all the tests so they offered me a contract. I'm an independent contractor who does reasearch for them, and I'm responsible for paying taxes and all that on the income by myself (they don't take anything out at all). Is it possible for me to do this on my instructor visa? That is, I could just register all that work with the IRS instead of the Japanese government, and I figure I'll essentually have a business in America while working in Japan. Is that okay visa-wise? Or do I need to apply for a permit to do work outside of my visa, and register that income in the Japanese tax system? Not only is that annoying aince I need to get the permit, but I imagjne it being way harder to find out all the relevant tax law in Japan. So I'm hoping I can count this as income in America.

Leapforce may be an American company, but they plan to send my income to my Japanese bank account. I might be able to get them to do it to my American account if that makes a difference.
Edited: 2015-01-14, 2:12 am
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#2
Not that you should be taking any advice from me, since I am probably wrong in some way about everything I'm about to say, but this is how I understand it.

Since it sounds like the work you will be doing falls outside of the remit of an 'instructor', you would have to most likely apply for some kind of permission or something to do the work you want to do, but the the best thing to do of course would be to just explain your situation and ask someone at immigration or someone at your embassy.
Basically if you're going to be doing anything in Japan, you need the proper permission.

Whether you have to pay tax on your income in Japan or not I believe depends on which category you fall into (non-resident, non-permanent resident or permanent resident).

Since you say they will be sending your income to your Japanese bank account the only way you can avoid paying tax in Japan I believe is if you are classified as a 'non-resident' (been in Japan for less than a year and does not have their primary base of living in Japan) as non-residents only pay tax on income sourced from Japan.

'non-permanent residents' (in Japan less than 5 years with no intention of staying permanently) I believe pay tax in Japan on all income except for foreign income that does *not* get sent to Japan in any way.
So if you are a non-permanent resident then you could get paid into a foreign bank account and as long as that money doesn't get sent to Japan you shouldn't have to pay tax on it in Japan.

'permanent residents' (either in Japan for at least 5 years or have the intention of never leaving) have to pay tax in Japan on all income.

I don't know about America, but the UK has a double taxation convention with Japan which allows you to only pay tax in one country.
If you don't have anything like that in America you might have to pay tax in both countries since it sounds like you aren't a 'non-resident', but I have no clue how it works in America.

Luckily paying tax in Japan is easy, although if you want to see if you can get anything back you should really consult an accountant.
Or at least, I found it easy (working as an independent contractor for a UK based web company).
All I did was walk into the 税務署 asked for the correct forms, filled them out to the best of my ability and then the staff there helped me with the rest.
Then I just paid the slips that got sent to my apartment one by one each month.
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#3
Nyanda Wrote:Or at least, I found it easy (working as an independent contractor for a UK based web company).
All I did was walk into the 税務署 asked for the correct forms, filled them out to the best of my ability and then the staff there helped me with the rest.
Then I just paid the slips that got sent to my apartment one by one each month.
Thanks so much for the advice Nyanda--at least according to a few blog posts and articles I've found it looks like you're correct about most/all of this.

Did you also have to apply for permission when you were doing contractor work? I looked up the "Application for Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted" (the Japanese are masters of silly official titles), and I need documentation to confirm my intended activities, but I'm not sure exactly what to ask for. Leapforce is sort of known for being uncooperative about this sort of thing so I'm worried if I send them a vague e-mail they'll just ignore it, haha.
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JapanesePod101
#4
I'm sorry but I'm afraid I won't be much help with regards to the application for permission to do other work.
I have 日本人の配偶者 status so I didn't have to worry about it.

If I had to take a guess though, I assume as an independent contractor you will be given some kind of contract signed by both you and the company you are working for which outlines what you will be doing and for how long etc.

Whenever I have had to provide proof of employment before for immigration I usually just provide contracts (original and copies) with signatures, then just as an extra precaution contact details of the company that I have the contract with.

Other than that I'm having a hard time thinking of any other documents that would be suitable.
So again, it looks like another question for immigration/your embassy.
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#5
Long post ahead. Ok lets see. First off, you should probably talk to an immigration lawyer. Immigration is more likely to brush you off or potentially give you bad advice. Here is my input though.

The Instructor visa won't work; your new job is outside the range of tasks that the visa is valid for. You can work on the visa up till it expires, but applying for it again in your new position would be impossible. The new work visa category you would fall under is probably "specialist in humanities" which covers certain kinds of international services. This isn't difficult to get as a lot of eikaiwas get this for their teachers (ALTs get Instructor visas) and you qualify by the simple nature of being a native speaker of another language. But, there are some catches... read on.

If the company doesn't have a branch in Japan (which sounds to be the case) then you may be looking at a rough time, because a work visa by nature has a SPONSOR who is IN Japan. The work visa is by nature a statement from a company to the Japanese Govt., that they are providing you with a job that provides enough income so you can live in Japan and generally not become homeless (ie: there are salary requirements to be granted a visa, ex: <16万円/month would get denied). If the company isn't in Japan then....ya. I'm also pretty sure that companies wishing to sponsor you also have to supply company info as well, such as how much capital they have on hand. There is a lot of other paperwork that would have to be created and put in Japanese as well, again, lots of companies use lawyers for this.

There are 2 (3?) possibilities.
1) Least likely to succeed. Create a legal company either in Japan or the US. Attempt to apply for Investor/Business Manager work visa. There are 2 big catches with this. First, you need a physical office space in Japan. Second, you need to be able to show you have 5 Million yen in the bank. You can do anything on this visa though, there aren't very many restrictions; whatever you want your business to do, you can do it. You'll want to consult a visa lawyer if you plan to go this route.

2) Best option. Get a student visa and submit the application for activities outside your current visa. The school will have to sign off on this but you can get it so you can work while on the student visa. You'll probably want to setup a small ruse though, such as getting the application filed to work 5-10 hours a week at an English cafe near the campus, and then quit later. I'm not sure how keen the university would be about working freelance and I'd imagine the administration would have a hell of a time trying to understand the work you'd be doing. This visa status + app will legally allow you to work up to 20 hours a week, but obviously you can work longer without anyone being none the wiser. Unless the school has a stick up their ass, most schools shouldn't have any problem letting you work.

3) Get work at an eikaiwa and get sponsored on a Humanities visa. I doubt you can pull this off while in school and IN FACT, a lot of schools if you are enrolled full time, will require you to be on a student visa.

4) Actually lets make that 4. The other option is to just get a student visa and work. ***** getting the correct paperwork. The visa is only required for business that are in Japan because they don't want to get shafted by the govt. if someone starts investigating. You only need some kind of visa to stay in Japan and if you show you have a student visa, then how will anyone know you work if you do it from home. You could handle taxes any number of ways. You could pocket the money and avoid paying both the IRS and Japan, as Japan would have no record of you actually "working" in Japan, and if the company doesn't file anything with the IRS then its not an issue. Or you can choose to file taxes. I'm not sure how taxes factor in with filing for a student visa though. On the work visa renwal you have to provide the prior year's taxes in the process, but that may not be required on a student visa renewal.

One general thing on taxes though.
If you are taxed by a foreign country then you generally don't have to pay the IRS, unless you make a lot of money.

Hope this helps.
This is worth checking out: http://www.juridique.jp/immigration.html
Edited: 2015-01-14, 10:30 am
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#6
The humanities visa is actually 人文知識・国際業務, so I think it's a bit more flexible. Do schools have any special requirements for teachers though?

As for taxes going forward, it's worth keeping receipts for anything related to your job, including phone bills, business clothes, reference books, travel costs, rent (if you work at home). I do a lot of freelance translation, so I was able to list my MacBook Pro and some software too. I got the majority of my tax back, and my 住民税 was very low (I'm not sure if there's a relationship).
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#7
Ah, I suppose I didn't phrase my original post clearly enough. I'm still going to be teaching full time, I'm just going to do the research work 10-20 hours a month on top of my job. That should be enough to save up all the money I need for college entrance fees and first year tuition (and if I end up getting a big scholarship, I can take a vacation or buy something nice instead). After that I'll get a student visa, and I believe I can work 25 hours or something like that on my student visa.

I'm pretty sure it's not that hard to get approval to do work outside my visa, so I'm going to try that next week. Leapforce sent me a printable version of my contract, so as long as they don't complain about there not being a signature or official seal, I imagine I should be fine. Then I just have to figure out everything with the tax office in Japan.
Edited: 2015-01-14, 11:13 pm
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#8
Quote:I'm still going to be teaching full time, I'm just going to do the research work 10-20 hours a month on top of my job.
If the company has no presence in Japan. Then don't worry about the visa stuff, just do the work and pocket the money, that's what I would do. Unless you REALLY want to include that income on your JP income taxes.

Like I said above...actually I think I deleted that bit.
The application you need to work outside the range of your visa requires you to also submit information about the position and probably why you are working outside your current visa's range. For instance, when I was an ALT in Tokyo, my dispatch company required that I also file that application so I could do other stuff. They sent a letter along with the main visa renewal app. I don't remember the content but it wasn't long and I think it just detailed what I would be doing. But that was coming from the same company that was sponsoring my work visa so I don't think that would cause immigration to balk all that much, particularly because it was still school related work.

Give it a shot or go ask questions. Doesn't hurt to try, but make sure the contract is in Japanese. My company never once submitted paperwork in English, ever.

That link I put up above also talks about getting a free consultation with that immigration lawyer company; scroll to the bottom of the page.
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#9
vix86 Wrote:
Quote:I'm still going to be teaching full time, I'm just going to do the research work 10-20 hours a month on top of my job.
If the company has no presence in Japan. Then don't worry about the visa stuff, just do the work and pocket the money, that's what I would do. Unless you REALLY want to include that income on your JP income taxes.
Well, the problem is that I need to tell my bank the purpose of payment, and the funds are sent to me by Western Union. Considering a Japanese bank knows, and Western Union also has presence in Japan, I was worried that I could get found out. I'd rather not commit tax evasion, etc.

The taxes might not be so bad--I can report my internet and cell phone bills, etc. as business expenses so I wonder how much will actually be taxed.
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#10
Ah, the contract is all in English, but I'm thinking of writing a small summary of it in Japanese and maybe underlining relevant parts. I imagine the immigration office is pretty ill-equipped for this sort of thing.
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#11
Tzadeck Wrote:Well, the problem is that I need to tell my bank the purpose of payment, and the funds are sent to me by Western Union. Considering a Japanese bank knows, and Western Union also has presence in Japan, I was worried that I could get found out. I'd rather not commit tax evasion, etc.
The reason I mentioned "presence in Japan" is because proper paperwork on visas is something that only companies in Japan need to worry about so they don't get fined/sued if an audit is done on their workers. As well as being a statement from the company to the govt. that they are providing a sufficient amount of income for the person they are sponsoring. Part of the application process for any company wanting to get a visa for a worker is a presence in Japan, as well as providing information to the immigration office about such things as 'how much capital they have.' You aren't getting a visa, but I'm still not sure how well immigration will react to you doing freelance work with a company outside of Japan who won't have any information on file for them to look at and also who isn't your sponsor.

Give it a shot, like I said, if they reject the application then you can figure out what to do next. Be sure to find out if there is a "wait period" before you can reapply again though.

As far as "reason for payment" for the bank, you could just say "payment for services." They aren't going to ask for detailed information I'm sure.

Looking at the immigration site on the form. It sounds simple enough, though I do see that there is no option for administrative appeal, which seem kind of bothersome if they reject it. I still think the biggest hiccup will be the fact the company is outside Japan.
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#12
Well, I went to the visa office today and gave them my request to do extra activities and the online contract Leapforce gave me... So now just to wait and see what they say. They did seem weirded out (<---does this slang give away where I'm from and my age?) that there was no version of the contract with a real signature, but not all that weirded out that the company was based in America with no Japanese office.

Thanks for the advice everyone!

Nyanda, just one more thing: When did you go to the tax office? Do I have to do anything initially, or only when the time to pay taxes for the year rolls around?
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#13
Tzadeck Wrote:Nyanda, just one more thing: When did you go to the tax office? Do I have to do anything initially, or only when the time to pay taxes for the year rolls around?
I'm not paying taxes in Japan this year because I'm living in England with my wife, waiting to go back to Japan permanently again later this year, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details but I believe the income tax year in Japan is from January 1st to December 31st and you pay based on a self assessment system.

Because of that I think I went last time in late January or February.
Basically as long as you get it done by March 15th (I think) then you will be fine, since that's the deadline.

You don't need to do anything initially as far as I am aware. I just turned up each year before the deadline and got everything paid.

The only thing I did do before going to the tax office, was gather a record of all of the invoices I had sent out, the exchange rate at the time, how much money actually went into my bank etc.

I don't know how much of that information was actually needed, but when I went to the tax office I just asked for the correct forms, stood in line for an hour or two and sat down with a nice old man that helped me fill out the parts of the form that confused me.

I could probably have saved some money had I consulted with an accountant, but my memory is awful for that kind of thing and I always forgot.
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#14
Okay, sounds good. I'm gonna do the same--head down next year around January-February and assume there's nothing else I need to do. Gonna try to keep track of things even though I'm usually horrible at that.
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#15
Makes me wonder if there is tax filing software in Japan like there is in the US (and maybe the UK)?
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#16
Hello, I stumbled across your interesting post, while gathering info about this gig on-line...There is plenty of info relating to the work in the US, But it is much more difficult to find info about this type of work in Japan, So I have a few questions for the OP:

Tzadeck (OP) wrote:
"I'll basically be evaluating Japanese websites and search results (their bi-lingual positions pay pretty well!), though Leapforce is an American company".

How much (approx) do the bi-lingual positions (Japanese language) pay?
Did you end up going forward with this work? Did you enjoy it?
Does the work involve reviewing Japanese language websites, from the perspective of a Native English speaker (sounds odd)?
Could you recommend this type of work? Yes/No/Why/Why not?
Was there enough work (and salary) available to make it worth your while?

Many people online say it is terrible work/a scam/unreliable pay/not enough work available etc
Many other people online say it is the best work they have ever done....
What are your thoughts on doing this type of work in Japan?

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.
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