When my job contract ended in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, I was left in a very precarious personal, legal and health situation by Japanese immigration authorities, who gave me few options and information. Mr. Nakano greatly helped me out of a very difficult situation and back on my feet.
Convalescent and undocumented
I had applied for an extension of my working residence card on the basis that its due date was prior to the end of my work contract. However immigration did not reply for over three months and a few days after my contract expired they informed me that they would not renew my Residence Card.
All I got was a “Designated Activities” stamp on my passport, that would give me three months to “prepare for returning” to my country. This was totally unexpected, and contradicted all the information I had been given when had contacted them previously. It was a terrible situation because I had no plans to return at this point: my home country of Spain was one of world’s hotspots for COVID and I was also pending a medical procedure I had been postponing in order to not let it interfere with my work.
Unable to find another job I got a three-month extension of my Japanese national health insurance to match the new “Designated Activities” period of stay. I underwent surgery and was convalescent when the three months expired. I could extend this visa for another three months due to my medical situation and the impossibility to complete my rehabilitation if I went back to my country, which was under lockdown due to the pandemic.
However under the “Designated Activities – preparing to return” status I had no Residence Card, and this had a number of ominous consequences: I was not allowed to do any kind of work, I was also barred from registering in Hello Work, and after the three month extension of my national health insurance run out, at my town hall also refused to provide me with health coverage alleging that a Residence Card was necessary and the first extension was awarded to me only due to the CORONA situation. Convalescent, with no possibility to apply for jobs or receive the unemployment benefits that my previous job had entitled me to, covering all my expenses and the full cost of my ongoing post-operatory treatment was a great burden.
An unexpected savior
My doctor was very weary that I would not be able to complete my recovery if I was forced to leave the country. He told me he knew someone who could help me stabilize my legal situation, and put me in contact with Mr. Nakano from Waasa. Mr Nakano immediately answered my request and got to work at warp speed, with a dedication I would have never obtained from any professional lawyer.
Firstly, diving into laws and regulations and found out that I was actually entitled to national health coverage because it officially did not on having a Residence Card, but on being registered as a resident in the city (Jūminhyō). He made a few calls and just next day I could go to my town hall, obtain my brand new health insurance card and claim back all the expenses I had been forced to pay out of pocket for the last two months.
Next, he devised a way to get me a Residence Card and the possibility of working part time while extending my residence beyond the precarious month and a half I had left on my “Designated Activities” visa. Mr. Nakano found documentation from Japanese official sources where it was clearly stated that my medical procedure required nine months follow-up with the same doctor that performed the surgery.
He wrote an application letter to the Ministry of the Interior for a change of status on the basis of difficulties to return to my country. In it we argued that I needed rehabilitation and follow-up procedures which could not be done if I returned back home, and that the trip itself would be difficult due to my medical situation and the Coronavirus pandemic. The letter also added that it was too much of a burden to expect me to sustain myself economically without any help or employment for nine months.
Mr. Nakano not only prepared the documents for the application, he personally accompanied me to the immigration office to better explain in Japanese the whole situation to the officials there. After the process was complete, I didn’t even need to go back home and wait for a resolution. Within a few hours, my status was changed to a different category of the “Designated Activities” visa.
I obtained a Residence Card with validity for six months and a permit to work part-time in Japan. With it I was able to register at Hello Work just next day, and receive unemployment benefits that would help me through the trying times of the pandemic while I finished my medical treatment.
Meeting Mr. Nakano has really made my life much easier, and I am extremely thankful to him and my doctor for it.
The coronavirus emergency declaration has finally been lifted, and once again a variety of activities can be resumed.
WAASA is a non-profit organization, authorized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in January 2020. We provide assistance and support to foreigners living in Japan.
1. Are you aware that you are eligible to receive ¥100,000?
Because of the coronavirus, Japanese citizens and foreigners residing in Japan are entitled to a ¥100,000 per person benefit. Please review the information published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications at https://kyufukin.soumu.go.jp/ja-JP/download/. Note that the instructions can be read in several different languages.
If you would like to understand the content more concretely, or if you wish to receive assistance filling out the forms, please feel free to contact us.
2. For the foreigners who are not able to work because of the coronavirus, are you aware that there is an assistance program to enable you to continue working in Japan?
There is a program sponsored by the government of Japan to assist company interns receiving technical training and foreign workers who have been told that training and employment are no longer possible because of the coronavirus. The new program enables possible re-employment in a variety of fields. and assistance in the identification of possible employers.