“NO VISA FOR OVER THREE MONTHS”
If you’re desperate to come to Japan, there are cases in which you’d be better off just shelving that dream for a little while longer until a better opportunity comes along.
If you’re determined to change jobs, there are cases in which it’s important to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side (“better the devil you know”).
To demonstrate just how bad things can become, here are a series of posts from the “Teaching In Japan” subreddit from a person who (unfortunately) accepted a job offer from Joytalk (a dispatch company in the Tohoku region) and came to Japan to begin work on a tourist visa.
Yes, it’s about as terrible as you think it’s going to be.
Post 1: ALT – No Visa [For] Over 3 MonthsI am way past my patience limits but don’t know what to do…
I accepted a job offer in late March 2016 ,and then immediately had to fly over to Japan with only two days notice [for] training.
The job I accepted was [as an] ALT job at a Kindergarten. But honestly [I] don’t even feel like a ALT…
I work 5 days a week from 8am to 5pm with no breaks. I stay behind some days, but don’t get paid for it.
[I] work on Saturday, once a month, but [without] getting paid. What has been getting to me and making me wake up in the morning angry [is] still not having a visa…
I have been in Japan since [the] 28th of March, 2016. And been working ever since. I had to also leave Japan for the weekend because my 90 days was about to expire.
I keep in contact with my agency but they keep saying just a little longer and immigration is so busy. Sure I know immigration things take there time. But when it hit September this year… it will have been 6 months nearly without a visa and working full time.
I have been sick for nearly 2 months straight with no health insurance and paying so much money to hospitals and doctors; no car and no bank account.
I’m so over this and think maybe it’s best to leave. But I do enjoy my job and would feel bad for the children If teach.
What should I do?
To say that this is a tempest of illegal and exploitative conditions would be something of an understatement.
To begin with, working on a tourist visa is super illegal.
If your intention is to stay in Japan long-term, starting out that journey by breaking immigration law isn’t going to work out well.
The other problem with taking this kind of risk is that you’re the one who’s ultimately going to pay for it.
Even if you consider yourself a “victim”, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the immigration bureau, and your options are limited to “report the illegality and get deported” or “not report the illegality and leave the country when it becomes impossible to stay”.
Regardless of the path taken, you’re leaving Japan. Your only choice in the matter in how you’ll leave.
On top of the illegal visa issue, we have alleged wage theft, no health insurance, not paying taxes, no overtime pay, false promises, exploitation…
(It’s unlikely that immigration was “busy”, by the way.)
“I WASN’T THE ONLY ONE IN THE AGENCY THAT HAD THIS SAME ISSUE”
A little while after their first post, the writer came back with an update:
Post 2: (UPDATE) ALT – No Visa [For] Over 3 Months
More info: I wasn’t the only one in the [dispatch company] that had this same issue. But since last Tuesday they have since got a visa. [It] took nearly over 4 and half months.
Update on myself. Last Tuesday also, the agency informed me that my visa wasn’t granted. I was very shocked and will be leaving Japan (that once was suppose[d] to be a holiday, but now a little more permanent) on the 31st this month. They have since tried to see if I could apply for a working holiday visa. But felt that it wouldn’t be approved as I haven’t been in my home country for over three months.
So, last Tuesday, I called it quits and informed the agency. I have informed them that I want my pay from last month and the outstanding pay that’s they owed to me. They have been paying me in cash for the past couple of months.
The agency wanted to pay the outstanding pay one month owed to me [via] bank transfer when I left the country. But [I] talked to a few co-workers and [they] told me that seems scammy. So, I told the agency [that] I want the outstanding pay that is owed to me via the same way that they have been paying me since I started working for them.
I told them about Article 23 in Japan[‘s] labour laws and now [I’m] just waiting for this following week (pay week).
What else should I do about my pay / outstanding one month pay that is owed to me?
According to the post, Joytalk somehow managed to bamboozle the immigration office into giving someone the correct status of residence, even though that person was (again, allegedly) currently working in Japan on a tourist visa (it’s possible that the company just pretended that the “employee” wasn’t currently inside the country and being paid under the table).
However, the writer of the post wasn’t so fortunate…
“THE AGENCY THAT I WORKED FOR IS CALLED JOYTALK”
The final post came once the person finally left Japan and found themselves back in their native country:
Post 3: (UPDATE) ALT – No Visa [For] Over 3 Months
I wanted to give a last update about this situation.
In my last post, I asked about what I should do about getting the outstanding money owed to me.
I left Japan on the 31st of July and [I’m] now back in my home country.
I harassed my agency that I worked for about my outstanding pay for nearly 2 weeks everyday.
On the 30th of July they paid what was owed to me via cash. As I have been paid via cash all this time.
They tried to delay payment because they wanted to stop the gas, water and electricity themselves and deducted it even more out of my pay [a]nd wanted to pay me via bank transfer when I got back to my home country, [which I then] asked my fellow ALT co-workers about and they said that sounds so scammy and just harassed them and bring up the Japan labour laws. Which I did.
If anyone else gets into this type of situation, you honestly have to be very pro-active and do everything yourself. Don’t worry if you aren’t great at speaking Japanese to the gas company etc. They will most likely have translator. Just ask if they understand English.
The agency that I worked for is called JoyTalk.
They were to some degree helpful to me but also very slow.
In other cases from other ALT within this agency they have had a great experience or have been left in the dark.
There was another ALT in the same position as me. He got his visa and then a few days later there was something wrong with his visa and the agency had to resubmit it again.
[He’s] honestly going to call it quits soon enough.
But have you ever heard of JoyTalk before?
If you find yourself in this situation, you’ve already made the biggest mistake that you’re going to make, and being “pro-active” (vis-a-vis harassing the offending company) isn’t going to improve your situation – it’ll just be damage control.
Ultimately, you are part of the problem and not an innocent party.
Now, as a disclaimer, it’s difficult to verify the truth or accuracy of what this person said.
Independent verification is difficult to source, and the company is never going to voluntarily admit to egregiously breaking immigration law because that’s just not how the world works.
To that end, we can only reproduce what was written on Reddit here and leave it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.
(Add as many pinches of salt as you need.)
However, the underlying conclusion should be clear: don’t work in Japan illegally, and be sure to research the company that you plan on working for ahead of time so you can get some degree of knowledge about what kind of reputation the company has (and what kinds of problems you might encounter during any potential employment with that company).
Knowledge is power.
“THE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT THIS HAPPENING”
To echo what we just wrote, here is the advice(/general warning) that a helpful Redditor added to the bottom of the “Why We Strongly Recommend You Don’t Start Work Without A Visa – Also, Think Twice About Working For Joytalk” post:
This is unfortunately not unusual behaviour from some EFL companies in Japan (or anywhere in the world). The industry is very unregulated, complex, and not particularly lucrative.
This attracts people that have no place running a business.
Add in young inexperienced workers, keen to travel to a foreign country with limited language skills and it is a recipe for disaster.
The things you can do to prevent this happening to you are:
• If a company asks you to work illegally, immediately say “thanks but no thanks”
• Make sure you research all companies that you apply for
• Make sure you have sufficient funds to leave Japan if you feel you are being [screwed] over
• Familiarise yourself with the immigration process and employment law
Sage advice and – as usual – caveat subscriptor, folks.