Working Without A Visa? "Run. Don't Walk. Run Away."

Spotted over on the r/teachinginjapan sub-reddit, here's another anecdote of a company attempting to coax a naive foreigner with the usual assurances that they'll handle all of that pesky immigration nonsense AFTER said foreigner comes to Japan and starts working for them (illegally).

In this case, the (alleged) culprit is Heart Corporation / Heart English, who (at the time of the Reddit post) were the only ones to reply to a person that - by their own admission - was rejected by every other major dispatch and English conversation company in the country.

In a post titled "Anyone have experiance[sic] with Heart-school?", the Redditor in question asked for some advice:

 
"So, I've been given a job offer (well, I'm still in talks with them) and this isn't the first time I've been in talks with [Heart Corporation].

Last time, they wanted me to come to Japan the following week and start teaching without sending me the COE and not doing my visa until I get there. It's quite shady.

I don't mind going there to start working. I'm not going to get paid until the end of the month, anyway; but my only fear is that they have a VERY strict immigration policy and I don't want to get banned for 10+ years because of them. Are my worries unfounded?"

Suffice to say, those worries were most certainly not unfounded.

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JUST HOW ILLEGAL IS THIS?

This isn't a case of it being "illegal *wink-wink*" as some laws tend to be treated; this is very illegal for all involved.

However, it's also very difficult to prove because neither the company nor the person working in the country illegally is going to admit to it (and certainly not to the immigration office).

It's illegal for the company to have you come to Japan and start working with them without the correct working visa, and it's illegal for you - the person who has decided to come to Japan as a tourist - to do any work without the correct working visa.

If you get caught, it's going to end badly.

If you don't get caught, it's (probably) going to end badly.

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HOW BADLY IS "BADLY"?

To put just how bad of an idea this is into context, another Redditor bluntly set out just how far south these situations tend to go:

 
"You're not going to get paid at all if you do this. You'll come over and there will be a paperwork problem and they can't pay you because you don't have the proper visa but don't worry everything will be fine once it gets worked out.

Then after 90 days when you're risking deportation, they'll try to get you to do a visa run. Then, if that works, they'll try to get another 90 days free labor out of you and not pay you.

Or, if they really need someone and get you a visa, they'll claim your pre-visa time was unpaid training because what are you going to do?

Run. Don't walk. Run away."
 

Of course, such advice may not be very useful for people already legally living in Japan.

For them, these anecdotal tales are more along the lines of "stuff they already knew" or "things to consider when making future employment decisions".

However, if you're reading this from outside Japan, never accept this offer.

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YOU'RE BETTER OFF WAITING A WHILE LONGER

Do not believe any company that tells you that it's fine to come to Japan and THEN have your immigration paperwork taken care of.

In the case of the OP, their Reddit history suggested that they were somewhat ignorant about how immigration laws vis-a-vis moving to Japan works (which is to be expected), and somewhat at a loss for what to do with their life (beyond "move to Japan").

Such individuals are easy targets for companies that desperately need desperate people to fill contract positions.

"Hopes and Dreams" are not valid reasons for breaking immigration law no matter how you try to justify it, and being a criminal is generally not very conducive to making your "dream of living in Japan" come true.

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FURTHER SHENANIGANS AND FURTHER ADVICE

As for the claims of Heart Corporation engaging in "immigration hi-jinks", we have to again stress that this article quotes allegations that people have posted to Reddit, and such allegations do not - in and of themselves - amount to hard evidence per se (and, even if they did, that's for the proper authorities to deal with).

However, just a few weeks later, Reddit was graced with allegations of similar shenanigans from an entirely different person:


"The company said I will need three months of living expensives [sic] because I don't get paid until the end of the third month."
 

The reason why this person would need "three months of living expenses" and wouldn't be paid until "the end of the third month" should be obvious:

How long does a tourist visa last? Ninety days.

How long is three months? Ninety days.

The advice from Reddit was more or less the same:


"Yeah, get out. They're notorious - what they do is tell you they're processing your visa, get you to work illegally, but they can't pay you until your visa processed. Then, when your tourist visa runs out, they tell you your visa wasn't approved and you leave the country unpaid."
 

In cases such as these, people are free to interpret such anecdotes as they deem fit based upon their own knowledge and experience - and, of course, upon of the reputations of the parties involved.

Be that as it may, the bottom line should be clear: don't work in Japan illegally if you want to keep working in Japan, no matter how good someone is at telling you what you want to hear.

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