There are options for paid student internships students of foreign universities. These visa statuses generally fall under the broad “Designated Activities” category of visa statuses. Within “Designated Activities,” the visa status subcategories that most apply in the case mentioned above are the “Summer Job” and “Intern” visa statuses. Both of these statuses allow paid internship activities and have many similarities, but differ in some key aspects.
First, let’s look at the points that these statuses have in common. Both are restricted to currently enrolled students of a degree program, either undergraduate or graduate. Completely online programs are excluded from eligibility. Both visa statuses also require an agreement regarding the internship in question to exist between the educational institution at which the applicant is enrolled, and the company or organization that will accept the applicant as an intern.
The “Summer Job” status requires that the entirety of the period of the internship occurs within an official university holiday period, such as summer break or winter vacation. This means that if a student finishes their semester earlier than other students, they still would not be able to start the internship before the official holiday period starts. Also, if the student were to take a leave of absence during the normal class session, it would not be considered an official university holiday period (however, for universities that have an optional Summer session for courses, choosing not to attend the Summer session generally does not disqualify the student from this requirement). The “Summer Job” status will only be granted with a duration of 3 months. This length is significant because only visa statuses longer than 3 months allow the applicant to receive a Residence Card and make use of the Special Re-Entry Permit system. Holders of the “Summer Job” status therefore must make an application to the Immigration Services Bureau for a Re-Entry Permit if they wish to leave Japan and re-enter during the internship.
The “Internship” status requires that the internship form a part of the degree program as a whole, either by fulfilling a mandatory internship requirement, or otherwise by granting course credit toward graduation by completing and internship related to the course of study. The “Internship” status can be granted for periods of 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year depending on the length of the internship. Like the “Summer Job” status above, if a status of 3 months is granted, the applicant would not receive a Residence Card.
When considering an applicant for an internship, it is therefore important to remember:
1. Aside from the intern, an agreement must be made between the accepting company and the educational institution regarding the internship.
2. The internship must either entirely fall within a university holiday period, or the internship must grant course credit or fulfill a graduation requirement.