Some of you may remember that a while ago (ok, a little more than a while – I plain forgot to be honest) I promised to write an entry on the changes to the Japanese visa. Basically, there’s going to be a pretty massive shift next April.
I’m no expert on law and immigration, but I have taken out and renewed various visas during the course of my stay(s) in Japan. If you can clarify any of the points I intend to make here please do so.
April, 2010: A change is coming
The biggest change is that all foreign nationals living in Japan will be required to have health insurance from April next year. That means a subscription to the national health insurance scheme, not some poxy travel insurance. Surely most foreigners living here are smart enough to have HI anyway, aren’t they?
I’m not so sure. Not that it’s entirely out fault. You see, many language schools and other employers of foreigners here in Japan loathe paying the fees involved in keeping your insurance topped up. Therefore, they exploit a very thinly disguised loophole in Japanese law. Usually, companies are required to pay (or at least heavily subsidise) health insurance for full time employees. The loophole is that most teachers only teach between 23 and 25 hours a week, which, although practically is full-time, is technically under the minimum working hours to qualify for full time.
You might be wondering how this will affect you. First of all, check that you have health insurance. If so, no need to worry or change a thing. If not, you need to either have stern words with your employer or take out insurance personally.
The downsides are that you may face backpayments going back to when you first arrived in Japan. Plus the fact that HI is pretty steep anyway – it varies massively but you’re looking at around 20,000yen in most cases.
The advantages are, of course, that you can rest assured knowing that you can see a doctor if your sick. Plus you get to renew your visa hassle free next year.
You can get more advice from local organizations and governments. If anyone can add to what I have written here we’d be more than happy to hear, so chime in.