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Sponsoring a visa for a helper

Japan With Kids - Forums: Immigration/visas/re-entry permits/naturalization: Sponsoring a visa for a helper
By Jane on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 2:30 pm:

We are looking to sponser a fillipino nanny whose host family is going back to the USA. We have asked everyone we know if this would expose us to any potential liabilities or risks but no one seems to know. Are we responsible for paying her taxes? What happens if there is some contravention of her visa - do we get penalised? Even lawyer friends dont seem to know the answers. Can you help?

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 3:03 pm:

We have sponsored a couple of people over the years and I'll confess that we didn't give a lot of thought to legal liabilities. You are probably wiser to do so.

There are definitely potential requirements as an employer (income tax withholding, social insurance premiums, residence tax payments) that MAY come into play, but can vary depending on the amount the person is making.

Also, some variance by what -ku you live in.

As the sponsor, one must sign a letter of guarantee every time the visa is renewed promising to be "responsible" for the person.

A strict definition of what liability entails would be very difficult, I think given the Japanese propensity for keeping things gray. (Yes, even in matters of law, I belive.)

I'm not sure what you mean by "contravention of her visa". Perhaps you mean if she overstays, or some such thing?

I do assume that any misbehaving of a person one is sponsoring would definitely entail authorities coming to the sponsor with some expectations. What those would be is difficult to predict.

If you want to get fully informed, you do need to find a Japanese lawyer versed in immigration.

Hope this helps some.


By Ann Tang on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 12:59 pm:

To Scott Hancock and Jane:
I am also trying to sponsor a nanny and or a housekeeper from my own country. I would like to know how and where about to do that. Do we go straigt to the immigration office to do that? Is it pretty easy to do so? What are the requirements you need to present to the office in order to sponsor a person? I mean what kind of crendentials do the employers need to have? How long does it take to process the paper?
By the way, what is the average cost to employ a full time(live in) nanny or a housekeeper in Japan?
Thank you for your info.


By Scott Hancock on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 1:40 pm:

You can get the forms to apply and information about what's required for a Certificate of Eligibility at Immigration. Assuming you are in Tokyo, suggest you go to the main office in Otemachi. It will be vastly easier and more productive if you speak fluent Japanese or go with someone who does.

Nothing with Immigration should be assumed to be "easy". They are pretty cautious about bringing in unskilled people as those are the folks who are most likely to overstay in their minds.

Since requirements do change from time to time, it is best to go there and get their current list of documents regarding the applicant and sponsor. When we last did this, the sponsor had to be "#1 or #2" in their company. I don't know if this is still the case.

For an original Certificate of Employment (rather than a simple extension), it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. And they will not tell you ahead of time what it will be. You have to be patient with Immigration.

I believe the minimum contract one must show Immigration with the application is for 150,000/month salary. Reality varies from this both lower and higher, depending on how many hours per week one needs help. There are some other costs to bear in mind, such as social insurance premiums, flights home (as negotiated), etc.

If you have the resources, an immigration specialist can help a lot. You can see them advertised in some of the English magazines, etc. They are less than a lawyer, but registered with Immigration to act on others' behalf. Since, they deal with Immigration all the time, they are (should be) adept at preparing all the documents in the form which is most acceptable to Immigration. They have their own fee which you should be clear about. It can be anywhere from 25-100,000 depending on the situation. 50 is probably average.

By Anoynomous on Thursday, March 22, 2001 - 1:50 am:

Japanese citizen are not allowed to sponsor or hire foreign maids.Foreigner who wish to do so is eligible unless they hold a high position in the company.

By Miki Clark on Wednesday, March 28, 2001 - 12:33 pm:

To Anonymous

I'm a Japanese national and my husband is British. We currently live in Hong Kong and are likely to move to Tokyo soon. We want to take our live-in maid (Fillipino) with us to Tokyo, or at least employ a Fillipino maid when we get there. Judging from your comments above, I'm not allowed to do so, as a Japanese national. But can my husband (holding a "high" position) employ a foreign maid? I would appreciate any comments. Thanks

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, March 28, 2001 - 12:45 pm:

I didn't know this point that Anonymous is saying about Japanese nationals not being able to sponsor foreign maids... kind of weird reverse discrimination, if so.

Please see my earlier comment on how to try to get your husband to sponsor. You have to just go through the process of applying before bringing the person over.

As I say above, it's easier if you spend the money on a specialist. I suppose you could ask the free consultants above, but that seems intended for people without means.


By threesmiffs on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 12:53 am:

You should have no problem finding help in Japan. It costs a bit more than HK.If you want to sponsor your current helper all you need to do is get your husbands 3 year visa, then file all the Ohtemachi paperwork, submit the contract to the Philipine embassy in Shibuya. Wait for it to be accepted then send it to her and she can arrive. Hope this helps, J

By Ann Tang on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 4:09 pm:

With the info from Scott, I tried to sponsor a Philipino helper. I went to Otemachi to get all the paper I needed and submitted the application on Dec 27 last year. 4 months has passed now and I am still waiting for the result. I went to Otemachi twice and waited for 3 to 4 hours before I could ask about the application status. The answer I got was just one sentence. The first time there was" your application is still being processed" and the second time was"please wait for one or two more weeks". I am about to give up the idea of sponsorship.
When I went to inquire about the eligibility to sponsor, the official told me that the sponsor must hold a business/investment visa and must be a foreigner. Any other status of visa would be eligible.We were in the process of applying for PR status as we thought it would be the only way to get a Japanese housing loan.(We found out later that you do not necessary need a PR to get a housing loan). Anyway, the official told us that if we changed our status to PR, we would not be eligible for sponsoring a helper.
I do not know what is causing the delay(or if this is the normal time needed to process an application?) Can someone who has experience of sponsoring a helper give me some suggestions?

Thank you.


By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 5:01 pm:

Hello Ann-

All I can say is that Immigration holds all the cards. I know of no case where getting pushy or aggressive resulted in anything good. The situation is certainly difficult. I gather you filed everything yourself?

That's interesting to hear that a PR status is not qualified to sponsor.

Is the person - you or your spouse - who is listed on the application for sponsorship "#1 or #2" in your/his company? In the past, we've heard that this is also given as a requirement.

The frustrating thing is that many conditions & requirements are not clearly written out. Also, you can easily find someone else with seemingly the same circumstances have a different result.

If you give up on sponsorship, there are people around who have sponsorship, but not full schedules, so they're available to work.

Good luck, and stay calm. Scott

By RK on Wednesday, May 9, 2001 - 7:04 am:

Dear Scott:

Re: Immigration for domestic helpers.

You mentioned in a previous posting that you would recommend retaining an immigration specialist to help with immigration matters for domestic helpers.

Could you recommend any particular immigration specialists?

Thanks for your kind assistance.

By Alfred weinzierl on Friday, May 11, 2001 - 4:42 pm:

Dear Ann,
Scott is right. The best thing to do is to hire not an Immigration lawyer but a real lawyer. That might cost more money but your chances of success increase tenfold. Immigration officials tend to be uneasy when a lawyer talks to them, at least that's the way down here in Osaka. That PR's can not sponsor sounds like BS to me. An aquaintance of mine is sponsoring people left and right. Get the name of the Immigration officer and tell the lawyer. I work together with a lawyer and he might be able to help you. You can contact me by phone as well at 090-1227-3644.
Alfred Weinzierl
Executive Director A-UN, Osaka
new email address: chuppama[at]

By Scott Hancock on Friday, May 11, 2001 - 5:07 pm:

I can't recommend a specific one. Assuming you are in Tokyo, pick up a Tokyo Classified and check out some of the ads in there. Interview them and satisfy yourself as much as possible that they're "sincere".

Alfred's offer of a known entity is possibly better, except for the geographic problem.

I wonder what you mean by "real lawyer" as opposed to "immigration lawyer"? I actually was referring to the less-than-lawyer (shiho-shoshi?), but then a "real lawyer" is even better perhaps. I guess I would think of one with experience with immigration would be an advantage. Sounds like you have plenty of experience.

Don't you think Immigration is inconsistent and sometimes arbitrary?

By Ann on Friday, May 25, 2001 - 8:42 pm:

After 5months of waiting,I finally got my answer from the Immigration about the status of my sponsoring of a helper.

The answer was:

Your application was rejected for the following reason:
The job offered to the applicant cannot proved to be on a long term basis.

Maybe someone can give an insight to the comment by the Bureau.


By Threesmiffs on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 1:32 pm:

Yikes! We are still waiting after 4 months for immigration to give us an answer, hope it isn't the same as yours! They keep telling us that there are to many applications for them to process. Another helper told me that they are submiting to Yokahama and getting quicker results. Does anyone know if you can pull a application? Submit more than one? And what are you paying your future helper? are they giving you any free days? J

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 11:22 am:

I suppose you could cancel an application. And probably since Immigration doesn't seem to be very computerized, you might be able to start again at a different office. I certainly would not file in 2 places at the same time. That they would catch on to and the result would likely be unpleasant.

I thought one had to apply at the office nearest the residence of the person applying.

What do you mean by "free days"?

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 11:25 am:

Did you fill the application out yourself?

It sounds like they just didn't "like" your application and made up this stock answer. It's all so arbitrary.

Any comment?


By Threesmiffs on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 4:36 pm:

What I meant, what is the helper giving in return for you getting her a visa? 1 day a week free cleaning or more? We are still waiting, month 5 now.

By mary stevens on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 6:54 am:

i am still in the US and looking to move to toyko in 6 weeks (I am about to have a second child). i would really like to bring our fillipino nanny. are visas (sponsorship) easier to obtain from the US? i live in DC so i could go directly to the embassy. can she come with us even if the paperwork isn't complete or does she have to wait here?

thanks for any help. mary

By Scott Hancock on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 10:00 am:

Why don't you call up the Japanese consulate there and just ask them? Our experience with Japanese Immigration is that there aren't too many "absolutes". Exceptions abound.

I would hesitate to give you definitive answers because of this.

By Alfred Weinzierl on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 5:12 pm:

Hi there,
By "real lawyer" I mean an attorney who is a member of a Bar Association. There are the
" Gyosei Shoshi " and they call themselves " Immigration Lawyers" but what they really are administrative specialists who can establish companies and who can also deal with Immigration matters. Actually, they should not really call themselves " Lawyers " because they can NOT represent you in court. And some of them are ex- Immigration Officers.
Are the people at the Immi' Office arbitrary and inconsistent? I sometimes think that they must be flipping coins.
I have been to Immigration with quite a few overstayers and they get treated in totally different ways depending on their country of origin. Racism is a daily occurence but to Europeans and Americans this does not necesarily seem to be so. Just be careful and always get the officer's name. Also, if you talk to somebody write down the answers and his name, then make a phone call the next day and talk to someone else. You might be surprised at times how different their answers are. One might also record the conversation on tape. Evidence like that is admissible here.
That brings us back to the helper question. I can't really add anything to Scott's advice at the moment. Immigration make up this sh** as they go along. These guys are incredibly overworked!
I will try to find out more and will then contact you again,

Greetings from Osaka,

Alfred Weinzierl
new email address (9 Oct):

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 11:49 pm:

I'm curious about some of the comments you made above and in other posts.

You advise getting the officer's name at each encounter. This implies holding that person responsible for their information. Have you had cases where because you could quote who told you what, you were able to change an outcome?

Similarly, you mention recorded conversations are admissible evidence. Have you had cases of challenging or appealing Immigration's first ruling?

I usually advise people to keep their heads down and not get pushy. You seem to say that, at least in the presence of a full lawyer, Immigration will blink first. Do you advise getting pushy with the right authority?

It's continuously difficult to convey to people from the outside how capricious a government agency can be.


By Alfred on Friday, September 14, 2001 - 3:32 pm:

Dear Scott,
You're right. You have to be careful but it does not mean that you have to kiss ass all the time. Mr. Ikeda and I are pushy at the right time. Once a Japanese woman married to an overstayer was asked how many times a week they have sexual intercourse and since that time ( she went apeshit) they do not ask silly questions like that anymore. So far we have had a good track record, including overstayers who marry Japanese nationals. Asking for an officers' name is making him take responsibility and recording conversations is legal as well. Hide the recorder! We have had one case where it actually helped at the city office and we had a few discussions with immigration officers where the positive outcome was -how should I call it?- influenced by recorded voices.
Getting pushy immediately is stupid. There is a time for everything. We 're always very calm but there is a line and if that is crossed voices will be raised.
Do you ever come to Osaka? I would really like to meet you and have a chat. I might be up in Tokyo next week to help a guy so if you send me your phone number to my new email address (9 Oct):

By Judith Ann Herd on Monday, December 10, 2001 - 4:46 pm:

I really need help. My husband & I began proceedings to adopt a baby boy last December and we're told that our adoption will be finalized by the end of 2001, perhaps January 2002. After that we have to go to court to change his name.

We would like to sponsor our nanny, whose visa ends February 25, 2002. We were told by one immigration official that we cannot apply until the adoption is finalized but there is a difference of opinion among immigration authorizes about what "final" means. One says we have to wait until our son's name is changed; others say they don't know. It seems there are no precedents and everything is decided arbitrarily. Meanwhile, time is running out and we really need to sponsor our wonderful nanny for a Japanese visa.

Has anyone solved a similar visa problem? Can you recommend a reliable laywer or immigration assistance office that can help us? We would appreciate any suggestions about how to resolve our problem.

By Steven Herman on Tuesday, December 11, 2001 - 9:27 pm:

I would suggest using a specialist in immigration matters. I believe they are called gyoseishi in Japanese.

By Betty on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 4:58 pm:

I just found some info that might be useful for someone like Jane below (probably too late for Jane herself). I don't think it would apply the same way in Japan, but it might be a start for figuring things out:

"NannyTax, Inc., provides tax compliance services to USA employers of domestic help. For useful information and a free consultation, please visit: "

It has crossed my mind that the incidence of domestic employee visas is actually very, very low in the big picture and possibly not thoroughly policed by the tax office. IF the nanny thinks of herself as an idependent contracter than she needs to go and register for her national health insurance at the ward office on her own. A family is not going to have employee benefits packages like a company would. But as to who pays her taxes, she or her employer? I think that would be a question for the tax office (see: Tax Filing Info for phone numbers of tax offices)

By Jane on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 01:30 pm:

We are looking to sponser a fillipino nanny whose host family is going back to the USA. We have asked everyone we know if this would expose us to any potential liabilities or risks but no one seems to know. Are we responsible for paying her taxes? What happens if there is some contravention of her visa - do we get penalised? Even lawyer friends dont seem to know the answers. Can you help?

By Jennifer Earnshaw on Monday, April 15, 2002 - 5:40 pm:

We currently have an "Intracompany Transferee" visa type and have been told that we need to have "Business/Investor" type in order to sponsor. In fact we were rejected in our attempt to sponsor.

Our work position is very high in the company and report directly to the president so that is not the problem.

Does anyone know how to change the visa type to "Business/Investor"? Does anyone happen to have the appropriate paperwork on hand that they can scan in and send my way? Any help would be appreciated?

Thank You.

By Scott Hancock on Monday, April 15, 2002 - 5:57 pm:

For what it's worth, the rejection based on your status is consistent with our experience and understanding.

"Reporting to the president" was, at one time not high enough to qualify for Bus. Mgr. / Investor. But, I have no idea what their standard is now. Point is to not make any assumptions.

The process to change is not so "automatic" as to copy some forms. If there is not someone in your company who handles such matters, you have two options.

1. Go yourself to Otemachi (assuming Tokyo) and speak with one of the English speaking volunteers (if necessary) there to find out what you need to file. There are forms AND a certain set of documents from the company.

2.Hire a gyoseishi as Steve mentions above. They prepare the forms and tell you what you need, then file on your behalf. Their advantage is that they do it all the time and should prepare the forms properly.

By Arlene Ogata on Wednesday, April 17, 2002 - 2:50 pm:

Hi there! Can someone give me a clear explanation why japanese citizen are not allowed to hire or sponsor a maid? My husband is japanese and holds a high position both here in japan and in the Philippines.

My husband have tried inquiring about this by calling the immigration office but he was told that since he's japanese, no matter how high his position is in the company, even if he owns one, he can not sponsor or hire a maid from the Philippines. The only people who are entitled of sponsoring or hiring a helper are those expats and/or foreigner who are executives or president of their company. A japanese citizen applying for this is definitely a no no or just a waste of time. I really don't understand why. Don't you think it's unfair? Please someone give me a precise answer.

Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you in advance. Have a nice day!

Best Regards,

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, April 17, 2002 - 3:42 pm:

I don't know if I can reply to your message without sounding at least sardonic...

I'm surprised you would think there is such a thing as a "clear explanation" from any Japanese government institution. My take is that they just do what they do; sometimes consistenly and sometimes not.

I agree that it's "unfair", but it wouldn't be the first time, would it? You are at least the second person who has written in with this "rule" being quoted, so at least they do seem to be consistent with this one.

I can't even guess what the rationale would be. If you or your husband get some form of explanation, I would be interested to hear it. Or, anyone else know?

Another in a series... Scott

By Cornelia on Wednesday, April 17, 2002 - 6:56 pm:

It's called protecting the labor market. If you need a maid then the Japanese government would prefer for you to hire a Japanese one. They are definitely out there and available. It's true that there is not the same room for pay shenanigans. But there is definitely not one outrageous wage scale. There are some people who work more cheaply, especially if you pay them under the table. The special sponsorship rules are basically in place so that an embassador or a company president who presumably brings his staff with him from his home country can have that staff continue attending to his needs while on assignment in a foreign country. It is a mark of privilege and a concession to a way of doing things historically which has basically been discontinued (how many company presidents and vice-presidents in the USA actually keep live-in servants?)

By the way, it is also very difficult for a US citizen to "sponsor" a visa for a foreign domestic worker in the USA. There are plenty of locals available for the job. So this is not just a Japanese rule.

By Stephanie Martin on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 - 2:23 am:

Scott and Alfred,

You both sound like you know what you are talking about with visa's, so here is another one for you both. My partner (de-facto) has an Entertainment visa (6mths) and has been here now for 8 years, leaving every 6mths for a new visa, so he has no problem with visa's.

However, now I am here with him, along with our 15mth daughter, and neither of us(my daughter and I) can get sponsorship though his company, so we are on 90day visa's. I am comming up to my 5th stamp in a row and dont think my chances of keeping this up are very high.

So it doesn't look to good for me right now. I have looked into becomming a student to get a visa, but it seems like its going to take at least a year to get it(minimum), which I am sure I wont be able to come here on 90 day permits till then.

Otherwise I could teach English but I dont have a degree, I only have a Diploma, apparently that is a necessity for an application, or more to the point most English schools seem to want one. I am willing to do any job in the world, for as many hours as it takes to be able to stay here with him, as we both love being here, and want to stay as long as possible, but I really dont know what sort of options I have. Even if we got married, I am not sure if that matters on a visa like Entertainment.

If you have any idea of what my options could be, I would love to get as much help as possible to be able to stay here for a bit longer.

Thanks for your time.


By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 19, 2002 - 8:33 am:

Hi Steph,
I know of people who came and left on tourist visas for years. The important thing is not to do instant turnarounds. (1-3 days) If you leave for 2 weeks, then it is clearly inconceivable that you could be working here. So you are above suspicion. If you get pulled aside, you explain that you live with your boyfriend who is working and has a working visa and is the father of the baby, but that you have reasons for not getting married yet. And yes, you can become his dependent if you were married. So can the child. Lot's of families in Japan live on very litte. My daughter is on a dependent visa for example. You can also put a retired parent on a dependent visa. A spouse definitely qualifies. Then you are not "sponsored" by your husband's company but by your husband.

Also, another girlfriend of mine got an artist visa for 3 years (as a musician), so maybe your husband might try to change his visa type/length. Then the dependent gets the same length of time as the husband.

By Heather on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 3:24 pm:

We moved to Tokyo about a month ago and have found a wonderful woman from the Phillipines who we have been using as a babysitter. However, her visa will expire in December of this year and she needs a sponsor. Can anyone give me the legal and financial ramifications of sponsoring someone? We would only use her about 20 hrs per week and she will be free to babysit on the the side for other people. I don't even know where to start to find information.

By Nathalie on Friday, October 4, 2002 - 12:19 am:

Hi Heather
We've just sponsored our baby sitter and she got her new visa last week. There is a set of documents to give to the immigration office. If you are interested, I can send you some templates.
Most important of all, you can only sponsor someone if you have a certain kind of visa. The only ones I know are the Investor / Business manager (which my husband had to request prior to sponsor our baby sitter) and the diplomatic visa.
It is easier to sponsor someone who is already in Japan and had a visa before, than to make someone come from the Philippines (in that case, you have additional paperwork with the Philippines embassy I think).
Send me an email if you have more questions.

By Gaijinmom on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 6:09 pm:

Has anyone had a bad experience sponsoring a housekeeper? I'm just wondering what the liabilities and risks are with being a sponsor. Suppose the sponsored housekeeper gets into legal or financial trouble, is the sponsor liable? What happens if the housekeeper gets into a serious accident or requires substantial medical help? Are sponsors liable to cover these costs?

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 9:40 pm:

Please see my comments of August 16, 2000. I think this still holds.

Since a "sponsor" is the employer, the employer is obliged to pay for National Health Insurance. So, I would think that covers obligations for medical help.

But, as with any of this, if you are asking about legal liabilities and want a solid answer, you need a lawyer.


By Satomi Degami on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 4:59 pm:

Has anyone sponsored a maid with a "Legal/Accounting" visa? Our babysitter needs a new sponsor and we'd like to help her. By talking to Immigration, we've learned that a new category "legal/accounting professional" has been added to those who are eligible to sponsor a maid, so my husband is going through a big hussle of changing his visa to be able to sponsor her. Cust curious to see if anyone has successfully sponsored a maid with that visa. Also I've been hearing different accounts as to the length of time taken to sponsor someone once paperwork is in place. Any experience anyone can share? Many thanks in advance,

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 5:08 pm:

Since it's a new category, it seems you will be the pioneer!

You will hear differing accounts as to the time because that is the reality. There is no predicting it, unless you use a "gyosei shoshi" (?)who do it all the time and might give you a time frame.

Assume you have read all the posts above.

If Immigration says the category is eligible, then it would seem you have a good chance. Keep us posted.


By Joyce Mifsud on Sunday, January 26, 2003 - 9:45 pm:

Hi there,

I'm 3 months pregnant and planning to sponsor my cousin from the Philippines to be our nanny.

We're now in the process of changing my visa status to Business / Investor Manager. But it's taking my company too long to get their act together. I'm kinda in a hurry since I'm due in July and would prefer to have my cousin here before I'm due to give birth to our child.

To speed things up, I am contemplating sponsoring her on a Visiting Family Relatives visa. But that's only for 3 months. Has anyone had any experience of getting a visa extension for this type of visa ? Not sure how it works. Then perhaps I can change her visa status when she gets here.

Any assistance / advice would be much appreciated.

By Admin on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 10:26 am:

Your are invited to the next meeting of the DIJ Social Science Study Group. It will take place on
Friday, June 27, 6.30 PM

at the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), Tokyo

This month's speaker will be
Brenda Resurecion Tiu Tenegra (Ochanomizu University)

She will give a presentation about:
Foreign Domestic Workers Under Japan's "Closed-Door" Immigration Policy

>>Today there is a growing academic interest in paid domestic workers, but why and how this gendered and marginalized sector crosses international borders and what kind of residence status is accorded to the workers at the new destination areas is still not widely explored.

In this presentation, I will discuss why and how foreign domestic workers find waged labor in Japan where immigration policy has been highly restrictive towards unskilled foreign labor. What are the hiring patterns in a setting where the process of migration is far less institutionalized by the state? Conventional knowledge is that foreign domestic workers come to Japan only when these workers are accompanying diplomats and transnational business expatriates. But I argue that there is another more important pattern, which is women-centered "network-mediated migration". Based on my survey and interviews with 50 Filipina domestic workers in metropolitan Tokyo, I found that 70% of the workers are hired through "network-mediated migration" primarily based on kinship and friendship ties.

By highlighting this gendered personal network-based migration, this study adds to our understanding of how this cross-border mobility of domestic workers is partially sustained by their networks at the destination area. For one, these women-centered personal networks of domestic workers have provided efficacious support to potential migrants and have been crucial in disseminating job information in a situation where there is a highly restrictive immigration policy. <<

Brenda Resurecion Tiu Tenegra is in her second year (Ph.D. Program) at the Department of Gender Studies, College of Human Developmental Science, Ochanomizu University.

The presentation will be given in English. The DIJ Social Science Study Group is a forum for young scholars and Ph.D. candidates in the field of Social Sciences. As always, all are welcome to attend, but please register by June 26 with Harald Conrad (conrad[at] or Isa Ducke

Dr. Harald Conrad
German Institute for Japanese Studies
3-3-6 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0074
Phone: ++81(0)3-3222-5077
Fax: ++81(0)3-3222-5420

By Laurence Smith on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 6:26 pm:

Hello all,

We are shortly moving to Tokyo and are trying to establish budget the approx. cost of a nanny, either local or foreign. Can anyone provide any examples?

Both my wife and I are familiar with Tokyo, but this will be the first time we have actually lived there with kids.

Any advice would be much appreciated.


By Jerry on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 1:37 pm:


We are currently interviewing full-time babysitters (our baby is due in August), and most of the interviewees are asking for 220,000 yen per month, one month bonus pay, one month of vacation and one round trip ticket to the Phillipines per year.

I'd be curious if anyone else can confirm that those are the market terms.


By Vicki on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 2:44 pm:

I was wondering what the requirements are to sponsor a caregiver. Does anyone know?

By Penny Poe on Sunday, June 6, 2004 - 10:27 pm:

Contract Help!! Hello, I am trying to create a contract bewteen myself and a potential
helper. I do not need to employ her full-time but in the contract I beleive I have to state that I will. I went to immigration and got all the info and now I am trying to
create a contract and Explanation Letter for employment by the employer.

Does anyoe have a copy of this that they could email or fax me? I really have no idea where to begin.
Thanks a lot, Penny

By Anita Byrnes on Sunday, June 6, 2004 - 7:38 pm:

Hi :

I wonder if anyone has experience in sponsorship of a domestic helper whose visa has already expired (6 months ago, and therefore is in Japan illegally).

I am able to sponsor, being on a Business Manager/investor visa, but it seems to me a bit risky since once Immigration find out they may deport her instead. (and she has family so they may be investigated as well)

I would like to help her if possible though. I spoke to Immigration and they were negative, and in fact made the point that employing someone of that status is also illegal.

Appreciate any advice.

By Scott Hancock on Monday, June 7, 2004 - 8:04 pm:

If Immigration is telling you it's illegal to hire this person in her current status why in the world would you want to put yourself in jeopardy?? This makes no sense to me at all.


By Sue Slater on Monday, June 7, 2004 - 10:31 pm:

It is difficult to believe that immigration did not tell you that it would be impossible to sponsor someone who is here illegally. Did you know that to sponsor someone you need to deal with the immigration office? Of course, everyone likes to help someone out, but in this case I think you are dreaming.

By Anne Bergasse on Monday, June 7, 2004 - 11:38 pm:

If her visa has actually expired then you probably don't have a choice but to let her be deported. However, I would ask immigration if you could sponsor her from the Philippinnes starting with the certificate of eligibility. They might agree, you never know. You should check that she has not been given extensions. Usually (but not always) immigration will allow a Philippina domestic worker a 3-month extension to give her the chance to find a new sponser.

Ours was given that plus another 3 months when we applied for her visa. Immigration generally want to help contrary to what most people think. I have helped probably 40 or more people get visas and while I have had 'meetings' with them that weren't always a positive outcome, they've usually helped me. If your helper is OK with being deported then the best plan would be to go with her to immigration and talk with them.

By Bethan Hutton on Tuesday, June 8, 2004 - 12:39 am:

Surely if she gets deported that means she won't be allowed back in at all - they have just changed the law to make it even stricter. See the article below from the Nikkei newspaper.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Japan Toughens Illegal Stay Penalties, Scrap Refugee Deadline

TOKYO (Kyodo)--The Diet enacted a new immigration law Thursday to crack down on illegal aliens in Japan with tougher penalties on aliens who overstay their visas. The new law also eases the requirement for refugees who have entered into Japan to apply for government recognition of their refugee status.

The amendment to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, enacted after passing the House of Representatives, raises the maximum fine for illegal aliens to 3 million yen from the current 300,000 yen.

It also extends a ban on reentry of foreigners deported from Japan to 10 years from five years.

Measures involving foreign nationals who overstay their visas will take effect six months after promulgation of the law while those related to the refugee recognition would be within one year.

The new law stipulates that illegal immigrants who turn themselves in to immigration authorities will be exempt from detention and will be deported swiftly.

The authorities will also be allowed under the new law to rescind the resident status given to foreign nationals who obtained landing permits fraudulently.

As for refugee-related provisions, the new law scraps the current requirement that refugees must apply for a formal refugee status within 60 days after their arrival in Japan.

The law introduces independent counselors into the screening process of petitions by refugees against the government's rejection of their status in an effort to improve impartiality.

Government-recognized refugees will be allowed to reside in Japan if they fulfill certain conditions.

For those applying for refugee status, the justice minister, who is in charge of refugee matters, will issue permission for temporary residence as a way to secure their legal status, and give priority to the refugee recognition procedures over deportation.

Critics have long denounced Japan's dismal record of granting refugee status.

In the 21 years between 1982 and 2003, Japan received 3,118 applications for refugee status; only 315 were granted.

Last year, 336 people filed to become refugees. Only 10 were recognized.

With an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants in Japan, the Justice Ministry hopes to halve that number in five years in the wake of what law enforcement authorities claim is a rise in the number of crimes involving foreigners in Japan.

The bill was submitted to a regular Diet session last year, but was shelved when the lower house was dissolved in October. It was resubmitted to the Diet in the current legislative session that ends in June.

The House of Councillors passed the bill April 16.

By Anne Bergasse on Tuesday, June 8, 2004 - 11:00 am:

In my experience, immigration does not have a blind policy. Deportation without detention is a sure thing if she goes to immigration by herself. I recommend that she does this if she does not have a willing sponsor rather than stay on illegally. But if she has a willing sponsor (as she seems to) they may allow a different course of action. She may still have to return [to her home country] but they may allow a sponsor to apply for a certificate of eligibility especially if she can prove extenuating circumstance as to why she overstayed (there are many many reasons for this that are not necessarily devious). I know of a couple of foreigners (not domestic workers but gainfully employed caucasion foreigners) who have accidently overstayed their spousal or working visas and with an apology and finger prints have been allowed to extend their visa.

Immigration has no choice but to follow the law, however where ever they can bend it to help they will. They are human and can be talked to. The important thing is to get their cooperation, and I'm only suggesting that its worth a try.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, June 8, 2004 - 1:04 pm:

Ditto Anne's answers.
Anita, I had started formulating a reply a couple of days ago, but didn't get to finishing it. IF you are willing to stick your neck out, even after 6 months there might be a solution which is not the worst case scenario. You could perhaps claim a variety of communication mixups, illness, apology letter, etc. As long as she has not had any criminal blemishes other than overstaying, there might be a way to work it out and maybe even avoid the deportation. People who have been here with a good working record and valid visa are treated a bit differently from someone who got in on a tourist visa and then overstayed. Though it might depend slightly on who you are talking to on that day.

It sort of sounds like she may have a child here? If you stand by her and support her, then it might count for a lot. The only downside, is that it might put you personally under some heavier scrutiny. But if you are otherwise "clean" and will be leaving anyway in 3 years or so, it might not be such a huge issue for you.

I have not had any major personal fiascos with immigration, but I have tried unwittingly to exit Narita with an expired re-entry permit (which was solved on the spot by buying a single re-entry), re-entered at Narita without our gaijin cards (left behind in the USA) and that was also not a problem, and of course I also have not earned the contract amount in my work contract for 6 years straight and with a letter explaining the difference had my visas re-newed without a blink. So, like so many things in Japan, there is a lot of flexibility we would not necessarily see back "home".

By R. Castle on Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 3:10 pm:


I have just a wonderful babysitter/housekeeper who will be losing her sponsor soon. We are desperately trying to find a way to help her find a new sponsor. Unfortunately, I probably do not qualify to sponsor her. I am wondering if anyone would know of anyone who would be willing to sponsor her if she works for them few days out of the week. I would also welcome any ideas or suggestions on ways we can try to find a sponsor for her.

Thanks in advance.

By Kavita Naimpally on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 8:23 am:

Hi, We are in need of help. My husband is here on an intercompany tranfer and we have found a fabulous helper and need to sponsor her. I have been told that we must have a business/investor visa for this. How do you do this? Can anyone who has done this advise me?

By Anne Bergasse on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 11:35 am:

There are only 3 ways to sponsor a helper in Japan.

1. You are here on a diplomatic visa or know of a friend who has a diplomatic
2. You or your husband's visas fall under the professional visas which are business/investor, doctor, lawyer.
3. You own a company and your helper has a university degree.

Option 1 is the surest method. Option 2 and 3 are at the disgretion of immigration.

Information on how to achieve any of the professional visas can be had easily from any immigration office. The list of offices is contained in summarized postings in this forum.

If you have a diplomat friend here working for an embassy who does not need full time helper care, they may be willing to sponsor a helper for you. This is the fastest and easiest method.

If you or your husband do not qualify for any of the visas mentioned above the only other way is to sponsor your helper as an employee of a company. The status is 'specialist in humanities' and your helper must have a university degree.

I hope this helps. Anne

By Kavita Naimpally on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 2:35 pm:

Thanks Anne,
I appreciate your input. I was told that it is possible to change visas from an inter-company transferee to investor/business manager visa. Do you know anyone who has done that and has input on paperwork needed?

By Bethan Hutton on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 10:57 pm:

I think to be able to get the investor/business manager visa you need to be able to prove that your husband either owns part of the company he is working for, or is one of the main managers of it. (My husband changed from intra-company transferee to investor/manager status, but that was when he was actually changing from being an employee to running a business.)

There may be ways of fudging it if your husband nearly but not quite qualifies, but I would recommend using an immigration agent/lawyer to do it for you - obviously it will cost you some extra money, but they know exactly how the immigration bureau works and how to present the paperwork. You can find immigration agents in the phone book or advertising in English-language publications like Metropolis.

By Lucy Mori on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 10:07 pm:

Does anybody know what the legal situation of employing a part-time cleaner is ? If they are foreign (Fillipa) with a work permit and visa are they allowed to work for others? on a cash only basis? Is it legal or illegal?

There are so many ads offering 'help' ... and I have just arrived in Japan and am not sure what the situation is.


By Joanna Bennett on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 11:52 pm:

Lucy, we have sponsored a couple of part-time helpers before and we have a full time live-in one now. From what I know, it is not legal to share a maid but lots of people do it. Just make sure you check their passport or alien card to make sure they are LEGAL. I have heard stories about people getting into trouble for hiring 'over stayers'.

By tia tanaka on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 4:38 pm:


I have just been reading on all your posts on sponsoring a foreign domestic helper. Basically, to cut the whole story short, I understand that you have to fall under certain categories of visa to be eligible to apply that way. Furthermore, if not wrong Japanese may not be eligible. I like to share a bit of my own experience.

I have employed a maid in my own home country, and in her official documents, I am her employer. Now, I have applied for a temporary visit visa for her in the Japanese embassy in my home country, and she was given a 90 days visit visa. The reason given at the application was that she is following her employer. She is now here in Japan. I like to know if anyone has such experience. I like to know if after the 90 days temporary visa, is it possible to extend it for just another 90 days? Also, if say, she overstayed the 90 days temporary visit visa, what are the penalties? In financial terms? Does the penalty falls on the guarantor (hoshonin)?

By the way, Ann Tang if you are reading this, what happened to your application for the Filipino maid, after it was rejected? Did you give up after that?

Hope to have some feedback on this.

By Scott Hancock on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 6:06 pm:

Almost sure that Japanese (or foreigners with permanent resident visa) cannot sponsor helper.

I believe the extension of 90-day visa will depend on the particular home country.

Intentionally overstaying is really not something you want to get into. I think it falls hardest on the visitor. And these days, it can be much harsher than just financial penalty. It can result in being barred from entering for some years.

By Joanna Bennett on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 6:29 pm:

From what I understand only diplomat visa holders and foreign investor visa holders can sponsor a maid. And it helps if you have young kids. Obviuosly you have to provide evidence that you are capable financially.
I definitely agree with Scot about overstaying. Not only your helper but you could get into trouble.
I don't think they will extend her visa because one is (legally) not suppose to be working on tourist visa.
The immigration office provides a clear guidline on how to apply for a 'private maid'. Good luck.

By Pato on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 7:33 pm:

If your "maid" has a college degree (and I would hazard the guess that about 50% do), then she/he can be sponsored as a language teacher, under a "Specialist in Humanities / International Service". It would have to be through a company. And then of course she is not a maid, but a tutor to your children. And since accountants still serve tea (and clean the toilets in a smaller company) in this country (if they are women) I don't see much of a contradiction if your tutor does a bit of laundry as part of her job.

Just a grey area. Your own level of risk aversity determines how far you might go with this.

And your "maid" will be really happy to have a job that pays about 30 - 40 times more than she might make back in her home country (so please keep this "exploitation" in perspective) AS WELL as no fear form immigration authorities (since she/he will often choose the risk of overstaying vs. returning home).

By Kristin Herrmann on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 6:55 pm:

I am new to the sponsor arena. If my husband has a specialist in Humanities/International Service Visa, can he sponsor a Phillipino helper in Tokyo? How long does the process take?

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 3:04 am:

I don't think Humanities/International Service qualifies for sponsoring, but get the definitive-as-possible answer by asking Immigration. See their site for phones.

By Ryan Connolly on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 2:23 am:

I am a military officer that is about to relocate from Beijing to Okinawa. A friend of mine is also moving to Okinawa from Thailand. He and his wife are planning on bringing their Thai nanny with them. He told me that military members stationed in Japan qualify as a "foreign official," and can thus sponsor someone to come to Japan. (I'm not sure if this is written in the laws or if it is a part of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.) At any rate, I have checked the internet high and low, including Japanese governmentt websites, but I can't find any mention of military people in Japan being allowed to sponsor a foreign domestic worker. I'm going to go to the Japanese Embassy here in Beijing soon, but I'm afraid that they will not be really clear about the laws... meaning they'll definitely tell me it's not possible. If anyone knows more about this or can tell me where to go to find the correct answer, I'd appreciate it!

Ryan Connolly

By Admin on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 6:19 am:

Hi Ryan, the US military people don't even go through the same visa process that the rest of us foreigners here go through. They get special entry papers. So I have no idea what they are allowed to do and not allowed to do. Are there any military people listening in on this who can clarify?

By Sloane Wendell on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 10:24 am:

Trying to find out about SOFA status on the internet is very difficult. Before taking a trip to the Japanese Embassy start with the legal office there on base. If they can't find the answer for you call the legal office at Okinawa. I just called the legal office here on base and they specifically have a lawyer that deals with SOFA status questions. Okinawa is even a larger base than the one I here in mainland Japan, so they should be the first call you make.

By Vera Andriani on Saturday, September 24, 2005 - 1:08 pm:

Hello there,
I would like to get information about how to change IntraCompany-transferee visa into Investor/Business Manager Visa to enable us to sponsor maid. Any advice will be appreciate...Thank you

By Nancy on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:22 am:

If one has the correct visa to sponsor a domestic worker, is it difficult to hire someone who is already here and currently sponsored by another individual? Must the current employer give permission? What are the conditions of employment, i.e. minimum salary, working hours, health insurance, tax liability for a live in domestic worker?

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:56 am:

I think the first thing to be clear about is that Immigration and Labor issues are separate. Aliens working legally have the same protection about labor issues as anyone else, theoretically.

Once an alien is sponsored / has a visa allowing work, "most of the time", the visa remains valid until it's expiry date. However, there are cases quoted here where employers went to the trouble to notify Immigration of termination. In most cases, the employer & employee just part company and the employee retains the right to work.

Having said that, the employee must report the change of employer, technically.

I believe the minimum salary to obtain the visa for work is 150,000/month, but check with Immigration for latest information.

The rest of the working conditions are regulated by the Labor office, not Immigration. (The contract submitted to Immigration to qualify for the sponsorship simply must be within the Labor law.)

Strictly speaking, the employer is supposed to provide health insurance via the National Health plan.

Practically, it seems the arrangements with domestic workers are very informal.

By Tonette Binsol on Monday, November 7, 2005 - 6:20 am:

Scott, the domestic workers in Japan are not covered by the Labor Laws. The type of visa is called "designated activities". This kind of visa is acted by the Ministry of Justice. Contracts are usually produced on a employer-employee basis and you're right, it's more of an informal arrangement. How I wish that there are employers out there who could help formalize a standard contract at least for these nannies who are really deserving to be protected by the Labor Laws of Japan. Aside from this standard contract and while word of mouth is useful as practiced by many nannies, there is a formal agency or center that could inform and provide a common arrangement as practiced and seem fair for all nannies.

If the nanny that Nancy wants to hire is Filipino, the Philippine embassy has a set of requirements for a contract worker. In the Philippine side, these domestic workers are contract workers. Thus the sponsor will meet the Philippine embassy personnel and discuss the contract. Most of the time there is no hassle as the agreement between the employer and the nanny has more weight.

While it's the prerogative of every employer to hire a part-time nanny being sponsored by another employer, in the laws, this act is not really stipulated. Thus, there's nothing that prevents one from doing so. Again, the issue is on the exclusion of the visa category to be protected by the labor laws in Japan. I would suggest that if you're qualified to sponsor one to sponsor one.. that way you can have responsibilities shared by both of you as an employer and your nanny because you will have a contract which is your protection. Nevertheless, again since the law doesn't prohibit, if you have full trust in the person even without sponsorship, it's your judgement.

I am sure that the employers here are not the type who will discriminate or maltreat their nannies or nannies-to-be but a kind of bilateral agreement between the host country and the sending country must be in place to protect these nannies in the future and to protect this kind of trade in the future because these nannies are a big help to us.

Hope this helps.

By Nancy on Monday, November 7, 2005 - 8:27 am:

Tonette, thank you for the for the information. I was going to call the Philippine Embassy today for information. Tonette, regarding your comment, "I am sure that the employers here are not the type who will discriminate or maltreat their nannies"...unfortunately, this is definitely the situation with this particular nanny.

By Scott Hancock on Monday, November 7, 2005 - 12:40 pm:

I'm puzzled by your statement about people on a certain visa being not covered by the Labor law. I think you have much experience in these matters as a helping person. But, I wonder if the lack of protection is more of a gray tradition than an actual specified "exemption".

You make a good point that a contract is good for both parties, especially if it is thoughtfully and carefully written to make expectations of both parties clear. After that, such contracts are only as good as the intent of the parties behind them, though.

By Tonette Binsol on Monday, November 7, 2005 - 9:49 pm:

Many thanks and good luck to you, Nancy...

Scott, that visa category is called "designated activities" or "tokutei katsudo" and that is not covered by the Labor law.

We could trace its history. Japanese law provides a "designated activities visa" (tokutei katsudo) for people who would not normally be permitted to stay but who, for humanitarian reasons, are allowed to do so(8). (8) According to the official commentary on the visa, it is applied to "a person who engages in activities which belong to categories that shall not be generally permitted, but whose residence shall be specifically permitted under humanitarian and other special circumstances".

The first "designated activities visa" was granted in June 1991 and since then 30 students have been granted the visa. The other cases are still under consideration. The "designated activities visa" is granted for six-month periods but to date, as far as Amnesty International is aware, there have been no problems in having it renewed. More at

This is more of an "other" visa category whenever the MOJ couldn't match it with its present list of known categories in Japan.

Exemption vs. lack... which weight is more reasonable, Scott?

Hope this helps.

By Tonette Binsol on Monday, November 21, 2005 - 10:25 pm:

Hi Friends! I am taking this chance to ask any expat in the list who might be able to sponsor a nanny I am helping right now. She was illegally dismissed by her employer after giving birth. She is very sincere, honest and very intelligent. If you want to help this nanny, please email me offline. Thanks a lot.

By Tonette Binsol on Monday, November 21, 2005 - 10:27 pm:

Ooops sorry to the admin. I think this is not the thread to post that one.

By Wendy Chan on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 - 11:20 pm:

Hi, Scott and Tonette

My family is going to move to Tokyo in March. We have two girls (4 and 2) and I definitely need to sponsor a full-time (live-in) maid. I think philipino maids are more in supply. But having read all the postings in this topic, I am quite confused in the procedures and legal aspects of sponsoring a philipino maid. I believe my husband holds a correct visa eligible in sponsoring a maid (he's the #1 in the company). Could you simplify the procedures in how to apply for the sponsorship?

How about any legal requirements I have to observe, eg. annual leave, minimum salary required by the Tokyo government, maximum working hours per week, etc, etc? Does a standard contract (between the employer and the maid) last for 2 years?

I intend to look for someone who is already in Tokyo and can start working right away after we arrive Tokyo. Does that take a shorter lead time in the processing?

Could you also list out the breakdown of the annuall expenditure of employing a philipino maid, eg. average salary, insurance (medical or accidents), tax, a immigration specialist, so on ....

BTW, Nancy, if you are still reading this topic, have you finalised successfully employed the maid you want? Any experience to share?

Thanks very much.

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, January 5, 2006 - 6:43 am:

Have you read all the discussions above? I think most of it is covered already up there.

Employment contracts are usually for one year at at time.

Although, Tonette disagrees with me, my information is still that Immigration and Labor are separately controlled & regulated.

Certainly finding someone already in Tokyo is simpler and faster than bringing someone in. You want to stay with someone who is in a legal status and not overstaying. You don't need that headache, as nice as you are.

Getting a couple of recommendations from former/curent employers is a plus, but no guarantee.

After you read the above, let us know if you have specific questions beyond that.

By Wendy Chan on Thursday, January 5, 2006 - 7:31 pm:

Dear Scott

Thanks for responding so promptly. Yes, I've read through all the postings (it took me two hours!) and that's why I still asked. I know there are basic requirements by the Labor Dept in HK and Singapore regarding a philipino helper, eg. min. salary, annual leave, etc. What confuses me is that there's seems no answers on the following in all the discussions I read through from 2000 up todate:

1. basic starting salary required by the government authorities, eg. Labour Dept?
2. Annual Salary?
3. max. working hours per week?
4. what basic insurance the employer should prepare for the maid, eg. health insurance, accident insurance?
5. any gratuity required after the contract ends?
6. What's the "normal" lead time for successfully obtaining the sponsorship (with the helper already in Tokyo)? 2-3 months?

I guess I may need to find some part time helper before I get a full time (Live-in). The previous postings also confuses me that it seems that there are some maids who are currently sponsored by somebody, but not working full time for them (perhaps only 2-3 days a week). Is my understanding correct? If so, can I use these helpers for part time job? Should I get a written consent from their current sponsors? Is that legal?

Also, from the previous postings, it was said that there would be some maids (now still in Tokyo) whose sponsors had departed Japan. Shouldn't these maids leave Japan in a reasonable time deadline? It seems to me from the past discussion that I can hire these maids. Is that legal as I am not the original sponsor?

Sorry I brought up with so many questions but I believe these are what most expatriates (who are new to Tokyo) wants to know.

Thanks very much.

By Anne Bergasse on Thursday, January 5, 2006 - 8:43 pm:

Hi Wendy
I think that the answers on this board are
confusing because the issue of sponsoring
a helper in this country is still evolving.
Immigration is being bombarded with
requests for sponsorship but have a law in
place with special restrictions on who can
sponsor. This law is in place to protect
local Japanese helpers but the labor force
is not big enough, nor bilingual enough to
support the demand. The growing demand
for helpers from the Philippines, Thailand
and India is causing Immigration to look
for other ways to allow sponsorship but its
a slow process. This is why its common for
helpers to have sponsorship but only work
for them for a day or so. As long as your
helper has a valid visa (you need to check
the sticker in her passport for the dates
and status), it is perfectly legal to hire her.
This also applies if her sponsor has left
the country. The visa is valid until it

To answer your other specific questions, I
will preface by saying that employers and
workers here generally use guidelines set
by previous employers or friends so all
parameters vary.

1. basic starting salary required by the
government authorities, eg. Labour Dept?

I believe this amount is 150,000 yen per

2. Annual Salary?

150,000 yen times 12.

3. max. working hours per week?

This varies according to the needs of the

4. what basic insurance the employer
should prepare for the maid, eg. health
insurance, accident insurance?

Generally health insurance.

5. any gratuity required after the contract

This is up to the employer.

6. What's the "normal" lead time for
successfully obtaining the sponsorship
(with the helper already in Tokyo)? 2-3

This is up to the employer and the mix.
There are plenty of employable helpers in
Tokyo - the more you interview and try
out, the better your chances of finding the
right one for your family.

Hope this helps.

By Nancy on Thursday, January 5, 2006 - 8:59 pm:

Hi Wendy,

No, we have not found anyone yet. Most of the potential candidates seem to be quite nervous around our pets....or perhaps it's all the hair and dander they create that scares them all off.

By Wendy Chan on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 12:15 am:

Anne, thanks so much for your detail answer. This really helps a lot! I got a much clearer idea now.

Nancy, what pets do you have? I also got a small dog (small in size but old in age!). Do you really think having a pet poses difficulties in hiring a maid?

By Nancy on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 9:16 am:

Wendy, there is a photo of the pets (3 dogs and a cockatoo)under my profile. Yes, I would consider the pets to be the problem. We CAN sponsor, and there is no childcare involved.

By Wendy Chan on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 11:22 am:

Anne, btw, I forgot to ask how many annual leave a philipino helper usually have? (I guess it's just the agreement between the employer and the maid, but just want to have a cross reference).

Anyone would like to share a copy of his/her current employment contract of the maid? I have no clue on how it should be. Please email me, thanks.

BTW, I know we usually don't want to make specific recommendations for a particular service provider, but I really want to know if any "immigration specialists" you have used are good. Does anyone can email me privately for the names and contact details?


By Scott Hancock on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 12:08 pm:

I agree with what Anne said, plus here's my .02 on your quesitons:

1.150,000/month is the figure I know, but just to be clear, it's "required" by Immigration, not the Labor Office. In other words, Immigration feels this is the minimum wage the visa seeker needs to not be a burden on the system.

3. Maximum hours-
This one is in the Labor Office area, not Immigration (sorry Tonette). Strictly speaking, if you have contracted employment with someone, you are bound by the labor rules regarding overtime. If there is a "maximum" I doubt it would be in the realm you are considering.

And, practically speaking, I doubt anyone pays domestic helpers according to the strict rule. I just think you should know the base that exists "technically".

4. Insurance-
Helpers are supposed to be enrolled in the National Health System and have the premiums paid by the employer I don't remember what the sharing ratio is, but the actual payment is done by the employer. I can tell you more details later, if you need.

5. Gratuity REQUIRED?
Definitely NOT! You're only required to pay what is agreed in writing in the contract.

6. Lead time...
Per Anne's reply, there are tons of people looking for work. Even after assuming a pool of people with recommendations you've personally checked out, it's kind of pot luck. Don't make any commitments until you have worked with them for a month or so.

It is quite common to be pressured to making some commitment quicker for various dire sounding reasons. Tempting to give in out of kindness, but our experience is that you'll do better with someone responsible enough to have their affairs organized ahead of time.

You also asked about required annual leave-
I don't think there is any "minimum". 2 weeks off at a time that's convenient for both employer & employee is common.

It's also common for the sponsor to provide r/t transportation to the home country. Now, that I think of it, I think this may even be an immigration requirement.

I would also add to Anne's advice about checking passport/visa, make copies of all the pages for your records, especially if you are considering sponsoring; but even if not, it would be a good idea. Sorry to say there is a good bit of name/passport swapping among this group.

By Scott Hancock on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 12:27 pm:
Let me also agree with Anne's comment regarding the hiring of helpers with still valid visa, though their employers have left. The vast majority of the time, the departing employers do not "cancel" the visa. I used to think this wasn't even possible, but Cornelia quoted me some direct knowledge of someone who had a vindictive former-employer who did cancel it. In that rare case, the person would need to leave. But, in the usual case, if the visa is still valid, they are legal to work (this can't be fully technically correct, now that I read that, but the risk is to the worker, not you).

It is also, as Anne said, very common for sponsors to only need the helper a day or two per week and then the helper goes out and finds other work for the remaining days. One downside to this system is that the helper will always be beholding to the sponsor to change schedule if the sponsor requests. Could be an idea to have direct contact with the sponsor, though we've never done that.

Interesting about the pet phobia. We have not experienced that.

By Anne Bergasse on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 1:07 pm:

Hi Wendy
Its always good to use normal labor law
as a starting point for any employment
contract. Annual leave would be the same
as for any employee of any company -
usually 2 weeks. Many employers give the
airfare home and some give a month
leave. There are many reasons for this,
perhaps because the helper has become
part of the family or has always worked
long hours and is devoted. Compensation
or reward, over and above the regular
salary varies as much family to family as it
does company to company.
Hope this helps.

By Wendy Chan on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 1:10 pm:

Scott, again, thanks so much for your detail answer. Really helpful and now the picture is coming clear.

About the annual leave. You said usually 14 days at a time (a year?) which is quite long compared to HK & Singapore. How about weekly leave? Do they usually enjoy one day off per week?

As for the max. working hours, I am alerted by some of my friends in Toronto. They hired philipino maid but because of the strict labor laws, the maid just refused to work after 6 pm every evening ! So, do you know basic requirements set by the Japan Labor Dept regarding daily (or weekly) working hours? I understand this shouldn't be that strict when come to reality, especially the maid is also a nanny who inevitably has to help out in early mornings and nights, but just want to know the basic rules before the maid suddenly revoked what she has committed and sue me.

BTW, thanks for reminding the limitations of using a helper who is sponsorbed by another one. this is really a very valid point.

By Scott Hancock on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 5:54 pm:

Glad if it is helpful.
As Anne says, 2 weeks to a month is quite normal here. Wouldn't you normally go for a home visit for that long, anyway? That's the typical pattern here.

As for the underlying labor laws about working long hours, the basic concept you would be facing is that the employer cannot force a worker to work overtime. You would have to have a very uncooperative person to refuse to work longer than 8 hours in a day on this ground. They would technically be able to do that, but you would certainly want to have discovered such attitude before making the commitment.

I don't think you should worry about this issue. People usually want to work more to make more money in our experience.

It's impossible to preempt every horror story one can come up with. So, just:
* talk to as many candidates & their references as you can to get a feeling for who's out there
* make your requirements known in very simple, clear language avoiding expressions like "it would be nice it" or "we would prefer that".
* don't be afraid to do trial periods little by little to get the confidence
* once you have someone you want to go with, put as much on paper as you can. (Although, I can imagine a potential risk of putting too much in if there gets to be a falling-out.)
* Once you are under way, if there are serious mistakes or deviations, document them and write the person a note to inform them. (Of course, you'll be mostly praising them, too when they work out so well!)

By Nancy on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 6:16 pm:

I have never understood how a domestic worker can still have a valid visa when the sponsoring person has since left Japan. Doesn't immigration have any matching up process? How does the "employer" (who is no longer in Japan) continue to pay National Health Insurance premiums, for example? What about liability insurance in case the housekeeper has an accident in someone's home? This would normally be carried by an employer but if they have left, then there would not be any. I am not suggesting that the employer cancel the visa, but I know that it is possible to provide a release letter and therefore allow the domestic worker to be sponsored by a new employer. This to me makes very good sense, unless there is a shortage of sponsors.

By Scott Hancock on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 6:35 pm:

Those are all logical questions, Nancy! I guess you haven't been in Japan too long- trying to apply so much logic! :)

As far as I can see, no - Immigration does not have a matching up process. They are only slowly "computerizing". (It's only in the last year or two that the visas have some form of bar code to be machine readable.)

Good question about the NHI premiums. I'll find out.

"Liability insurance"? You mean the departed employer's liability? I don't think many people carry that, as it is.

Yes, there is the release letter system (which orphaned helpers should get from departing sponsors).

There is DEFINITELY a greater supply of workers than willing & able sponsors.

I think Immigration will gradually become more efficient. Which will be good news/bad news.

By Cathy Edwards on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 6:44 pm:

I believe the key to getting a good standard of help is to treat your helper well.
Little things go a long way such as a Christmas bonus (Y20,000 is very significant to a Fillipino), a gift when you return from holidays and placing realistic expectations on them.
"Doing the right thing" goes both ways and always remember that they are the person you are trusting with your children, so when you do find the right helper you want to hang on to them for dear life!

By Scott Hancock on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 7:00 pm:

Very true, Cathy!
And part of the "realistic expectations" is also to
communicate them well. I've seen unhappy situations with
helpers develop simply because the employer did not take
care to express needs in clear, simple English, without
using idioms or overly polite expressions. Really need to
take some extra time to make sure everyone is getting
through and messages are understood.

By Anne on Friday, January 6, 2006 - 11:50 pm:

Hi Nancy
I think the problem is that you are
confusing visa sponsorship with
employment. While they are
interconnected, they are not governed by
the same laws or rules. A visa is a
residence status and has a life span. The
application for the visa proves to
immigration that the person is who they
say they are, has the ability to work and
has someone to provide them with work.
When the visa runs out, if that person has
lost their sponsor, they need to find
another one to get an extension of their
visa. The visa is related to the type of work
that the person does, not to the sponsor.
The visa is the property of the person.
Immigration keeps track of the person and
visa status, not the sponsor.
A sponsor leaving has the obligation of
living up to their side of the employment
contract and giving a release letter
needed for applying for a visa
extension. To cancel their visa would not
only be unnecessary, it would be seen as a
little bit weird by immigration since they
decreed that the person could, in fact,
work in their country. Its quite common
actually for Immigration to allow helpers
to extend their visa for a few months while
they look or a new sponsor.
I hope this helps.

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, January 7, 2006 - 2:54 am:

I used to think a sponsor "canceling" an employee's visa didn't exist. But, Cornelia told us about a person she knew personally who had their employer do just that. And, the worker had to get out of Japan in a hurry. I think it's very rare, but since it proved that it's possible, I don't discount it completely anymore. Sorry to say, there are horror stories out there regarding helpers that might motivate one to use the procedure. After all, when one sponsors, one signs a letter that says "agree to be responsible for sponsored person".

Following the logic you laid out about the need for Immigration to know a permitted worker has an employer, it follows that if the employment stops, the permission to stay "could" stop. I think it's just another self-contradiction of Japanese bureaucracy that they've traditionally just let the visa run to its original expiration.

Also, as you say, for the most part, Immigration PEOPLE are usually helpful if the alien is cooperative. I have had more positive experiences with them than negative over the years.

By Tonette Binsol on Saturday, January 7, 2006 - 4:47 pm:


Thanks for the explanation. I still don't understand why the visa is called "designated activities" and not a "labor" visa. The work of domestic helpers is within a labor framework but because of the visa category, they're not protected by the labor laws. I think this is the puzzle.

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, January 8, 2006 - 7:28 pm:

The English names of the visa categories could easily be unclear since they are originally in Japanese, which often is vauge in itself. Something called "labor" visa would be too general, no?

Your and my information about the business of protection by labor law for people working under "designated activities" is different. I checked a couple of place I consider authoritative and they said "any worker - even undocumented- is covered by labor laws".

Do you have some personal experience where such a person was turned down at the labor office when making a claim?

By Nancy on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - 4:59 pm:

Having read through this entire topic, and in the midst of trying to sponsor a housekeeper (under the designated activities visa) I would like to clarify some points. First of all, having the business investor/manager visa is the basic requirement to sponsor, but NOT the ONLY requirement, as I have just been told. You MUST have children under the age of 12. There is a myth that having pets counts as members of your household, but not according to immigration although the clerk was very careful to point out that of course pets are members of one's family, just not legally. If the children are older than 12, or there are no children, it is impossible to sponsor unless there is a medical condition that prevents carrying out household tasks. A medical certificate explaining the specific condition is required to substantiate this. Two prior visits to the immigration office to request information on what is needed to sponsor someone already here with a valid visa and I will have to return yet again to submit more documents that we were never informed were needed. The information, in English, on what must be submitted along with an application, was printed on a piece of paper dated 1994 and is very vague. Important points were missing. For example, when applying for an extension of the visa, the housekeeper must provide a tax certificate for the previous year from the ward office. While most Philippinas are not subject to tax, a tax return must have been filed or no certificate can be issued. Most of the other requirements on both sides, have already been discussed here in so far as sponsoring someone who is already here (in several posts). One interesting observation is that the business investor/visa holder's position in the company seems to be of significance as Immigration asks for a company's organization chart.
Scott, you are absolutely right, there are a ton of housekeepers who need to renew their visa and need a new sponsor. Before the visa expires, they can apply to immigration and ask for an extension on the basis that they are looking for a new sponsor. An extenstion is granted for 3 months and in that time if they have not found a sponsor they must be prepared to leave when the visa expires.

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 1:13 pm:

Great information, Nancy! And I hope everyone is noticing that your post proves again how variable and difficult to pin down government information is.

Everything you've clarified jives with my experience and second hand information.

You refer to sponsoring someone who already is here, which is what most of the above is about. Perhaps it's worth pointing out that sponsoring someone from zero; let's say a recommended relative still in the home country - involves more steps and documentation. As previously mentioned, trying to sponsor someone who has overstayed is VERY MUCH NOT RECOMMENDED.

By Nancy on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 1:36 pm:

Scott, I didn't think it was even possible to sponsor someone who has overstayed!!!Indeed my experience thus far is only about sponsoring someone who is already here which is complicated enough.(just finished another trip to immigration to deliver yet more papers J). As you said, trying to sponsor someone who is not here does involve more paperwork but if that person has already worked with your family in another country this seems to be relevant. Does anyone have any experience bringing their own housekeeper from another country to Japan?

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 4:23 pm:

The reason I mention overstayers is because we've heard here and personally about potential sponsors being asked by helpers in questionable circumstances for support. People once in a while, come up with all kinds of sad stories, which at the bottom of is an overstay. It can be tempting to take a risk for someone in need.

By charu gupta on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 3:02 pm:


I would like to sponsor a nanny for my daughter. Can someone please mail me an employment contract they have used earlier for this purpose?

Can this contract be simply be made on a white paper with both parties' signatures or does it require a lawyer to attest this?

Would really appreciate your help in this.

By Sfmom on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 6:33 pm:


I've seen in all the posts the minimum wage required to sponsor a (full time live-out)helper, but is the actual going rate higher? I ask because we're paying 1500 yen an hour for a part time helper. At some point, it might make more sense to sponsor someone full time. Also if the help lives out, what sort of hours do they generally work for full time pay? Thanks for your help.

By Nancy on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 9:37 pm:


The contract does not need to be notarised or witnessed. Both parties just need to sign it.

By Nancy on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 9:52 pm:

SFmom, 1,500 yen per hour seems to be the "going rate" for live-out help, whether it is one day a week, or half day a week. Assuming you can sponsor (you need to have a business investor/manager visa AND you need to have young children in order to sponsor)the monthly salary you commit to in the contract is unrelated to whether the help is live in or out. The working hours are usually agreed upon and this can vary greatly depending on your needs. If you are asking whether it will cost you less per hour if you sponsor someone, the simple answer is yes, BUT, as it has been pointed out in many posts, sponsorship carries legal and financial obligations.

By Penny Poe on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 11:00 pm:

I have lived in Tokyo for 8 years and in the
beginning I paid 1500/yen an hour.
During the second year I was unhappy
with my first helper so I interviewed 8
people. When asked how much they
would like to be paid 3/8 said 1000yen. I
have been paying 1000yen per hour since
then. I have also had 6-8 part-time
helpers during that period and I usually
have two willing to work at any given time.
I do reference checks and am quite picky.
If you offer 1000yen per hour you will find
someone, whetheer they are great, time
will only tell.

By Lisa Cash on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 11:05 pm:

Hi! Thank you ahead of time for taking the time to read and respond to my post. My husband is SOFA sponosored (he works for the U.S. military), so from what I understand, we are eligible to sponsor a nanny. We are also bi-vocational church-planters or "missionaries" and there is a lovely, Christian Filipino lady who actually lives in the Philippines who would like to "volunteer" her services as a missionary nanny for us, simply in exchange for room and board and a very small salary. We found her through an organization called Mission Nannys in the United States. Okay, so we just learned about the Certificate of Eligibility and that it could take up to 4 months to process, but we really need her help immediately (we have three children ages 3 and under!). Is it legal/possible for her to come to Japan on a tourist visa initially and just live with us as a friend, and then to apply for her work visa during the time she is here? Does anyone know if this is okay? Is is easy or difficult for a Filipina to get a tourist visa to come to Japan? She is very anxious to get here and we are anxious for her to come as well! Any thoughts or advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

By Scott Hancock on Friday, March 3, 2006 - 11:40 pm:

No matter how urgent your need is, very much do NOT recommend having your helper work illegally. It can be very difficult for Filipinas to get visa because so many of them try to get in to get work. You will not be doing your helper a favor by encouraging her to work illegally.

There are plenty of helpers here already to tide you over until you can do the visa properly.

I didn't know SOFA status was eligible, but you must be talking to people who already do it.

My .02

By Marry Bradly on Saturday, March 4, 2006 - 8:42 am:

It is very difficult for a Filipina to get a tourist visa to come to Japan. And I think that under a SOFA status you don't have much of a choices but to find helper who is already in Japan. Under a SOFA status you have many restrictions to do things out of bases. You even can't open bank account.
Good Luck

By Lisa Cash on Saturday, March 4, 2006 - 9:54 am:

First of all, yes we can get a bank account. I have one witht eh Bank of Yokohama and one with the Post Office. I'm not sure where you're getting that information. Anyway, that's beside the point.

Secondly, we live OFF base. We have for almost 3 years now, and we will for at least 10 more years. My husband is a teacher, not military. So we are here long-term under SOFA status.

Immigration told me that SOFA status people are eligible to sponsor people, so I know it's possible. But here's where I'm confused. You see, this nanny is actually volunteering to come care for our children for free AS A MISSIONARY through Mission Nannys, which is a licensed and recognized missionary organization. So maybe she shouls try to come on a missionary visa. Anyone know anyting about that?? This is confusing!

But most short-term missionaries do come to Japan on a tourist visa, so I can't see the problem with her coming on a tourist visa initially and then applying for the work/missionary visa.

Thoughts please?? Anyone out there know about this?

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, March 4, 2006 - 2:30 pm:

That's an interesting twist that she's coming to work as a volunteer/missionary. Unusual situation, so difficult to find someone who's done it. Since you've talked to immigration already, why not ask them?

Somehow, I would think a missionary would be sponsored by the religious organization...

Accept that most things with Immigration can be confusing and/or incosistent. There is no manual.

By Lisa Cash on Saturday, March 4, 2006 - 5:00 pm:

Yes, I suppose I should talk to Immigration again and ask about the "Religious Activities" visa...

By Josie Salzman on Sunday, March 5, 2006 - 10:40 pm:

salary question:

Is 150,000/month a fair sum for the following conditions?

Full time mon-sat 8 - 14 hours/day, live in, sponsorship provided, insurance, 3 weeks paid vacation, r/t airfare to home country, and 2 months bonus after second year?

What is everyone else paying for similar work?

Thanks for your help!

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, March 5, 2006 - 11:05 pm:


I'd say you are in the ballpark. Though for someone really good, you might should be prepared to sweeten the deal a bit. 150K is the apparent "minimum" for sponsorship contract for Immigration.

No doubt you could find people who will jump at those conditions. Just make sure you have the right person before you make the full commitment. Ideally, finding someone who has some time left on their current visa is better because you can check each other out without the pressure of getting the visa done. Expressly stated trial period is good for both.

The direct answer to your question of " it a fair sum?" is only answered by the potential employee.

My .02

By Nancy on Monday, March 6, 2006 - 7:49 am:

Josie, if both the employer and employee are happy with the terms of employment,that is really important. I have heard that the figure closer to 180,000 JPY sits better with immigration.

IMHO, a 14 hour day is a very long day. That would be 7 am to 9 pm, for example. Unless of course, the children attend school for a full day and there is a long break mid-day, for example.

I am sure you know that a good employer/employee relationship is based on mutual respect and trust. Most of the housekeepers I have met over the years are very hardworking, extremely honest, loyal and trustworthy.

Of course a good reference is always helpful, though as Scott suggested, a trial period is ideal.

I hope things work out.

By Nancy on Sunday, February 26, 2006 - 12:33 am:


You have certainly provided a variety of scenarios that perhaps many of us never considered although in an earlier post I did mention that an employer should have liability insurance to cover an accident in the home. But I still wonder about the legal connection. I know of a situation where the housekeeper never filed a tax return with the tax authorities at the local ward office. This came to light when she was changing employers and immigration requested a certificate from the tax office. The sponsor's name was indeed on the housekeeper's file, but the sponsor had never been made aware of the fact that for two years a return had not been filed. I would have thought the employer would have been notified. Of course it is worth noting that most housekeepers are not liable for tax in Japan, but they still must file a return. Health insurance premiums are a tax deduction, as is supporting dependents outside of Japan (parents, for example, if they meet the minimum age requirement). I do agree with you, sponsorship is an obligation and while there are few cases when things do go wrong, when it does, that information spreads very quickly.

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 11:20 pm:

Although I am not a lawyer, either, I very much agree with Bethan's description and interpetation of the obligations of sponsoring a helper.

By Bethan Hutton on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 10:44 pm:


The law (and application of it, which is often a different matter here) seems to be very unclear, but my understanding is that if you sponsor someone's visa you are effectively acting as their guarantor while in Japan.

Certainly in order to sponsor you have to provide an employment contract which states you will provide medical insurance, home leave etc in addition to a specified salary for full-time employment. In most cases that I know of there is a private agreement between the sponsor and the helper that in fact not all the terms of this contract are going to be followed, eg if the sponsor does not need full-time help. But the fact remains that you have to put your name to the contract, and if the employer/employee relationship breaks down, the helper could legally pursue you under Japanese employment law.

I think the discussion on this site from last year has now been deleted for legal reasons, but you may remember the whole saga of the family with the pregnant helper they were not happy with. I don't know how that case turned out, but it certainly gave us all pause for thought.

Also, in Japan the concept of a guarantor is taken very seriously - people are pursued every day for repayment of loans or rental contracts they signed guarantees for as a favour to friends or relatives, who were then unable to meet payments. I don't know if there is any case law on this, but I would think it would be entirely possible if for example your helper caused damage to property or hurt someone in an accident, and was not able to pay damages, you might find yourself being asked to pay on her behalf.

Or if you do not actually cover health insurance for your helper because she is only working part time, and she does not take out insurance herself, and gets seriously ill - could you be sure the hospital would not pursue you for payment?

These are just my thoughts as a lay person - I am not a lawyer or in any way an expert on Japanese law - so if anyone out there does have expertise and could clarify these issues, I am sure I and lots of other sponsors out there would be very interested.

By Nancy on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 8:44 pm:

Bethan, I am curious....what did you mean by your comment


but you are also letting yourself in for a lot of legal responsibility which you may not really want.

Sponsoring implies a financial obligation, although there appears to be no consequences if the promised obligation is not met. So what is the legal obligation?

By Sari Helen Krassin on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 5:12 pm:

Can Anyone tell me what is all required to sponsor a nanny/housekeeper. I have met a housekeeper who is asking me to sponsor her. Does that involve a lot of money, time, paperwork? She claims nothing b/c it's a visa renewal. Would someone be so kind as to explain the process to me. Thank you.

By Bethan Hutton on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 8:11 pm:

Sari, there is a whole previous discussion on this topic on this board:
or if the link doesn't work, go to the main "forums" page, scroll down to "Immigration/visas/reentry permits", and you'll find a discussion on "sponsoring a visa for a helper".

It can be quite a simple process, if you have the right visa to sponsor, but you are also letting yourself in for a lot of legal responsibility which you may not really want.

By Betsy Rogers on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 9:27 pm:

Hello Scott! We currently sponsor someone
who lives out and works part-time. We are
adding another child to the family and would
like to sponsor a full-time live-in, we have
found someone and her visa expires in Sept.
Has anyone heard of sponsoring two people
given they have the need for two? I will go
down to immigration to ask but wanted to
see if anyone has done/heard of before.

By Nancy on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 10:42 pm:

Betsy, I'll save you a trip to immigration. Only someone with a diplomatic visa can sponsor two helpers.

By Joanna Bennett on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 11:31 pm:

Nancy maybe right but all you need is to have an agreement, signed by both parties(you and your current maid) that you have agree to end your contract. She is not affected because the immigration do not cancel a VISA.
You should submit the agreement along with your new application.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 11:43 pm:

That's an interesting idea, Joanna.

Betsy, if you try that, let us know if it works.

By Joanna Bennett on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - 7:27 am:

I should have said in my last message, it works 2 of my helpers finished before the year is up and I have sucessfully sponsored the next one.

By Jason Topaz on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - 9:56 pm:

As an employer of a foreign housekeeper who is very important to our family, I am very grateful for the flow of useful information in this discussion group.

I would like to make an appeal to those who are hiring, sponsoring, or planning on sponsoring workers. It sounds as if the supply of qualified help is greater than the demand from qualified sponsors nowadays. And as a result, the market bears wages that are even lower than in the past. We employers can clearly get away with paying lower salaries, and sponsors can even get significant amounts of free work. And in a free market, this is fair.

But I'd like to ask people to please consider, voluntarily, offering wages more than the minimum possible. I know that making ends meet in Japan can be difficult for us employers too. But for at least some of us (particularly those qualified to be sponsors), paying a slightly higher salary than the minimum probably has a very low impact on our own pocketbook. Yet it can make a massive difference in the life of the employee, or their overseas relatives whom they are supporting.

It's true that a sponsor takes on additional risk which could result in an unexpected financial burden. But I would like to think that the savings from paying such low wages to these workers might be enough to "make up" for any surprise costs a sponsor may have to bear. Remember hiring a domestic service like Duskin costs over 3000 yen per hour. The savings, even at 1500 yen per hour, reach well over 600,000 yen per year for a non-Japanese employee who's only working 8 hours a week.

For those sponsors or employers who are paying particularly low salaries or asking for free work: I truly do not mean the above as a criticism. I fully respect the free market and your right to enter into an employment agreement at a mutually agreeable rate. And you should continue doing so if it makes sense to you. I'm only asking people to also consider the humanitarian aspect. Of course it's a very individual thing, but you might find that by paying more than the very minimum you can get away with, you can make a difference in a worker's life that will feel good to you in a way that far outweighs the small financial cost.

By Andrea Stills on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 6:08 am:

You put that very nicely, Jason. Perhaps too nicely! As far as I am concerned you get what you pay for. I would not want someone looking after my children to be unhappy with their pay or the way they were treated. Who knows what they could do when you weren't around? Similarly, if someone was cleaning my house I would not want my toothbrush used to clean the toilet! If you respect people they will respect you (well you have a better chance anyway).

By Andrea Stills on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 6:11 am:

You put that very nicely, Jason. Perhaps too nicely! As far as I am concerned you get what you pay for. I would not want someone looking after my children to be unhappy with their pay or the way they were treated. Who knows what they could do when you weren't around? Similarly, if someone was cleaning my house I would not want my toothbrush used to clean the toilet! If you respect people they will respect you (well you have a better chance anyway).

By Nancy on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 6:11 am:

Betsy wrote


Has anyone heard of sponsoring two people
given they have the need for two?

Joanna, you are correct, if one is not going to renew sponsorship on the current visa, then a new application can be made. My understanding of the initial post was that the intention was two have two active sponsorships.

By Josie Salzman on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 11:10 am:

Hi all. I recently posted an advertisement for a helper to work full time, Mon-Sat, about 60 hours per week. I offered the following:

*sponsorship if the employee is a good match
*room and board
*2-3 weeks paid vacation
*airfare to home country
*bonus (typically 1month salary if the employee has done a very good job)
*Base salary is 150,000 per month.
*A raise would be considered after a year.

Also, while the job requires 60 hours, its not constant 60 hours. There is a lot of down time, when babies sleep, I allow a lot of breaks (about 3 hours during the day) and I am at home a lot to care for the children as well.

So anyway, I posted this job and I got an e-mail saying I was not "nice" and that this pay is not enough. Here is the e-mail I wrote back.

"I would like to ask you, how is this not nice? If the helper were to work 3 days 12 hours, and 3 days 8 hours, that equals 60 hours per week. If we multiply that by 714 yen, the minimum wage in japan, then that equals 42800 per week, or 1713 per month. But we offered to give her in addition to 150,000 a month, a private room, food, insurance, she would have to pay NO gas, electric, cable. Easily this is worth at least 35,000 per month. Then, we offer to pay roundtrip airfare, which is about 60000 yen. Then, if she does a good job, we would give a month's bonus at x-mas time. So, total, this job would pay approximately 2,466,000yen per year. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we would sponsor her visa.
I have a graduate degree from the United States, and my first job out of graduate school did not pay this much (I paid $30,000 per year tuition),and I worked about 70 hours per week - my work was very hard. I worked in dangerous, violent neighborhoods, walking up and down the street trying to help mentally ill people enter the hospital. I worked at night, in the early morning, in very dirty, dangerous conditions. . My husband has a ph.d. from a top Japanese university, and even with 5 years excellent experience he could only find a job in the US for $30,000 at a respected US university. So, please explain, how is this not nice??? It seems to be an acceptable rate for applicants with advanced degrees, even for jobs that are dangerous and require physical exertion.
How is 2466000 below minimum????"

So, folks, this was the e-mail I sent in reply. HONESTELY, my intent is to be fair to the potential employee - we dont have so much money with saving for college etc. I am looking for direction. Am I not aware of something I should consider? Please help me out, help me understand how I could potentially be seen as "not nice"

By Gerald Vogt on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 1:33 pm:

Comparing the lack of social standards in the U.S. and using them as reference to compare a situation with another country with different standards is not really appropriate way to judge. In the U.S. it is legal to employ people below minimum wage. You wrote yourself that you considered 30.000 for your husband inappropriate for his education. But it is common to "exploit" post-docs a little bit until they find tenure somewhere. And even on tenure, you still find many people making some extra money by publishing or starting a business. Anyway, he accepted it in the U.S. But that has nothing to do with what you pay in Japan?

Also, the costs of living etc. are less then in Japan, in particular in the Tokyo area which is still I believe the most expensive city in the world to live in. Even with $30000 a year in the U.S. you will most likely be able to find a huge apartment (compared to Japan) or even rent a house if you commute a little.

So I think comparing the U.S. to another country does not prove anything.

By Betsy Rogers on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 3:11 pm:

Dear Josie,
I think what you offered is perfectly acceptable to most. To those to whom it is not, then they have obviously found a better paying job somewhere else. One offers what one can afford and believes is fair.
I do think 60 hours a week is a little tough if it involves constant cleaning and babysitting. But if 25% of those hours are "babysitting" simply being home in the evening while the children sleep, that seems reasonable to me.
Comparing the wages in the States is useful because that is what you are basing your offer on because that is what you know.
Did the person saying you were "not nice" explain what the wage should be, what is the norm etc.and what their incurred costs are? Don't worry, you will find someone who will take you up on the offer.

By Gerald Vogt on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 3:47 pm:

"Comparing the wages in the States is useful because that is what you are basing your offer on because that is what you know."

Sorry, but I do not quite understand this argument. Are you saying that because it is legal in the U.S. to pay less the minimum wage or because you would pay a certain amount in the U.S. makes it O.K. in Japan? And because you will find someone who is willing to go for that little money it is O.K. to do it?

I very much assume you would not do the same if it was in a low-income country like the Philipines, basing your offer on what you know from the U.S.

If you are in a different country should you compare to what is customary in that country and not to the U.S.?

By Sari Helen Krassin on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 4:50 pm:


Your offer is acceptible if you were asking 5 days a week 40 hours weeks. They want to have lives too and some prefer to live out and separte from their work enviornment. At least you are researching what is fair.

By Jerry Brown on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 5:04 pm:

Considering the US, Josie has doubled the
offer of what a helper would get in the US.
A nanny through a professional agency
live-in with similar hours would make
$800 a month and an aupair would make
less, but have health and airfare to US
paid. None of these include guaranteed
bonuses, pay increases and flights abroad
as she has offered. There is a reason
Filipinos are flocking to Japan and it is
because they consider the money good
and they are able to not only support
themselves, but their families back home
also (except for maybe Tonette and a few
others). I am not sure when household
help became such a high paying job and
on par with what professional degree
expat makes that have worked their way
up through a corporation or business.
The US has set the minimum wage at $6/
hour and Japan at 714 yen/hour. Josie's
offer was over double minimum wage and
as you mention--Japan is expensive when
it comes to some food and housing, but
this sponsor is paying for all of these
expenses--a private room, utilities, food,
a flight home. Gerald and whom ever sent
the "not nice" email, I am not sure what
else you expect from a private individual.
I have several Filipinos I employee part
time and pay 1500 yen/per hour, but I do
not provide them with any room or board
and they have told me this money is
excellent--why else would they have left
behind all of their children (one has 7
children) and husbands? Japanese that do
similar work do not get paid anymore and
the Ward office will give you a list of
certified babysitters and they charge
800-1200 per hour. I have a wonderful
tutor that holds a college degree from the
US and Japan and she only charges 1000
per hour plus I pay train fare. Gerald--
how much do you pay your sitter? You
obviously have one with all the time you
spend on this site posting (ie. see Gerald's
"Playgroups and Pals: ...Dads welcome?").
Josie--I am certain you will find someone
excellent, though it might take a little
longer to find a live-in that is already in
Japan (because they have already set up
their living situation)--good luck!!

By Gerald Vogt on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 6:02 pm:

There is no need to get personal or offensive. I was just asking a question. Unless that is not allowed anymore.

I don't know how you come to the conclusion that someone offered double minimum wage here. The number of 2466000 JPY per year, 205500 JPY per month, 51375 JPY per week or 856 JPY per hr if I am not mistaken. Paying double minimum wage would be JPY 4112640 following the calculation of Josie.

I think it is the American approach in the service area to pay minimum or less than minimum wage and give tips or bonuses on top of that. Tips or bonuses are not guaranteed. As you know you don't give tips here in Japan. My impression is that the service in Japanese restaurants is better than in American restaurants. And most Americans I know don't give tips based on their satisfaction but simply what is customary like 15% in a restaurant.

By Jerry Brown on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 7:10 pm:

I based that off the fact that she is offering
room, board, paid vacation, insurance and
air flight (I did not include her offer of
bonus and possible increase in salary).
You have to consider room and board,
vacation, insurance and flights into the
salary (not just the hourly rate)--those are
real and high cost that Josie has to pay
and that the helper is therefore no longer
responsible for. These cost are paid
out of other live-out helper's 1500/hour
wage and are usually their highest and
most significant expenses.

By Gerald Vogt on Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 8:11 pm:

As far as I understand her post, the amount of 2466000 JPY per year is the total amount including everything she mentioned (room, board, food, insurance, etc.). The base salary is 150000 JPY per month or 1800000 JPY per year.

(She wrote: "So, total, this job would pay approximately 2,466,000yen per year." Maybe I misunderstood that but right now I can't see how...)

By Josie Salzman on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 2:18 am:

Hi all.
In response to Sari, I have never had a job that was only 40 hours a week - in Japan or in the US - and for many years before I had children while I was paying back my student loans, I worked 7 days a week - a full time job during the day, then waitressing in the evening, and then on the weekend overnight supervision in a nursing home for the elderly. It was my choice to work these hours, and while the hours I worked may seem unfair to you, that is the reality of my life and I did what I felt I had to do. I am not forcing anyone to give up a life...I am offering a work option for people. If they want to work 60 hours a week, then they can apply, if not, they need not apply. It seems to me to be their choice, not mine.
As far as salary, I agree with Gerald, that I MUST (both legally and ethically) pay minimum wage, if not more. So perhaps what I should do is this: instead of paying roundtrip airfare, and a month's bonus, pay that in salary - And if I lower the expected working hours from 60 to 55 per week, then the hourly wage would work out to be above minimum wage, at 7.61 per hour, or about 2,100,000 per year. On top of this room, board, insurance and sponsorship would be provided. Is this more reasonable? It is, really a matter of semantics, but so often in Japan I find form takes precedence over substance.

FYI Gerald, as far as Japanese salaries go, my husband most recently had an extremely coveted position at a Japanese National Institute as a scientist and researcher, and was paid in the range of 4,500,000 per year....does that seem like exploitation to you, too? The government 'gave' him an unbelievably run down, unsafe, tiny apartment to live in that was freezing, the plumbing barely worked, and was a 4 floor walkup, and was in a complex that looked like the USSR at its worse. AND we had to pay for it (albeit only 30000 per month) -
So, I have compared our potential workers financial situation to our in the US, and also in Japan. Shall I compare it to what hers might be like in the Phillipines, too?

Also, do you really believe that 150000 a month is so little money? It seems like a fair amount of money to me. I certainly find it very, very difficult to save that much money after expenses paid...and the helpers expenses ( in Japan) would be completely paid.

And Gerald, you are misinformed. Maybe in the Kansas you can find a spacious apartment with a salary of $30,000, but where we lived in Cambridge, Mass, and then in NYC, we could only afford a small one bedroom (1300/month) and then in NYC(1700/month) only a studio.
Also, to the man who wrote me to say I was not "nice" and then wrote back to let me know that factory workers make more than minimum wage, it seems to me that factory work is much more difficult and unfulfilling than taking care of and nurturing children, being a part of a household that is kind.

Thanks for your feedback.

By Nancy on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 8:46 am:

Josie, with the number of housekeepers requiring sponsors, I would be quite surprised if you do not find someone willing to work for you. Perhaps if you take out some of the "perks" and increase the basic monthly salary, that may help. To those who may think this is not a lot of money, it goes a long way to supporting family in the Philipinnes. Many housekeepers looking for sponsors are not looking on this website, so you should consider alternate places to post a notice, such as the notice board of an international supermarket. My other observation is that many housekeepers requiring sponsorship already have part time work lined up, and in fact, are reluctant to want to work full time as they will make less money by giving up the work they do for families who cannot sponsor.
As for factory work, I recently tried to help a nanny with a valid visa find a new position. Instead of taking the job offered, (the conditions were extremely fair) she went to work in a factory where the pay was no better, she informed me. However, this kind of work is not permitted under a designated activities visa and she is taking a big risk. Apparently she got the job through some of "her friends" but they are permanent residents, which is not the same status. Good luck Josie and keep us posted. E-mail me privately if you would like me to advertise for you in Yokohama.

By Kelly on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 9:41 am:

The minimum wage by Japanese Labor law is
150,000/month or 1.8M per year for a 6 day working week, with provision for 6 days paid leave per year.

Doing the math: 365 - 52 sundays - 6 days leave - 15 public holidays = 292 working days @ 8 hours/day = 2336 hours per year.

This equates to roughly 770 yen per hour which is pretty much half of that offered by Josie, and dosent take into account the lodging, bonus, flight, and the legal responsibilities of sponsorship.

There is an interesting academic paper on the net comparing Filipina salaries around the world for a variety of jobs. Guess what? Filipina househelp in Japan are on top dollar compared to Filipinas in other countries, and Filipinas in other jobs including white collar workers.

Of course, none of the helpers want to give the game away; and I guess few employers want to know they paid well above the going rate. It all seems a bit of a racket -nicely exemplified by the "not nice" post.

As Jerry rightly points out - there is no shortage of willing volunteers. So hang in there Josie, for what you are offering you rightly deserve a good employee.

By Cornelia on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 9:49 am:

The Y1500 an hour wage is excellent. Japanese without college educations generally make under Y1000. Even many with college educations do not make that. Factory work is absolutely no fun, but many Filippinas stand alongside Japanese in factories for about Y750 - Y850 an hour. If you work in a bento factory, you are wearing rubber boots on wet concrete floors handling frozen food items through latex gloves, and melting ice chips drip off your apron into your boots. You're doing this at tables that are too low so your back hurts. Or if you are working in a laundry, it is hot, very hot, and you are breathing in loads of lint. Or you might be cleaning rooms in a love hotel. This is actually not so bad, because sometimes it's not so busy, so there is a little bit of standing around. But if business stays lax, you may be sent home and called back when it gets busy again, so the pay is not always steady. Even so, these jobs are all preferable to jobs of the same ilk where you are degraded, spoken down to, yelled at, and/or hit on the head.

If you are honest, speak passable English, learn quickly, then domestic work for a family is indeed obtainable and very fulfilling and generally pleasant work, AND pays better!

Sponsorship itself has a financial value too by the way, even if it is not "bought and sold". Ask any of the ladies and men who are looking for sponsorship!

Many, many people are paying a base wage of Y150,000 per month with or without extras with or without sponsoring. They just are not writing about it openly on this forum.

My dearest Filippina friend here in Tokyo's husband is working for an Embassy that often does not pay for 3 months at a time, because the money is not transferred from the home country. Yes he has stayed with that position for over 20 years now. Why? Because his wife has been able to work in Japan piggybacking on his visa, and now finally all 3 of their children are all in Japan as well, also piggybacking on his visa.

I have often joked with my babysitters that they make more per month than I do! That's because they have left their children in the care of grandparents back in their home country, so they are free to work more than 40 hours a week outside the home. They are subsidized this way from back home in order to be free to work.

If you go to the family welfare office at the ward office, you will find out that only incomes under 1.97 million (this figure fluctuates annually) a year are considered needy of government support by TOKYO, for a single mother and at least one child. That support fluctuates from year to year depending on the politics of the moment. For one whole year it was stopped entirely (I wrote about this under another dicusssion) in an effort apparently to curb the divorce rate. If we use 2 million annually as a benchmark, then that leaves about half a million over for someone working for Josie, to send back to the home country. If we choose any of the countries from which typically most of these men and women come from (Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc) then Y500,000 a year is 5 or more times the average annual income in those countries.

Let's say this were not so. Let's say that they could all easily make Y500,000 a year in their home countries. Our supply of English speaking flexible nannies, babysitters, ironers, and cleaners here in Tokyo would cease to exist.

Comparisons with other countries are very relevant if they are made logically. There is every incentive for the great labor exodus from countries like the Philippines, Pakistan, etc. to countries like Japan. Most Filippinas that I know feel that they are fortunate to be here in Japan. Yes, this even includes the ones with overstayed visas! I've only met a few (count on one hand) who have complaints about the work and wages. I know a few more who have issues with the family/koseki/illegitimate child/nationality laws, but that is a whole different discussion.

In many cases it's not even an issue of pay being lower or higher or what you can or can't live on. Economic migrants often come from areas where there are NO JOBS at all, so ANY JOB is better than no job. A small percentage manage to migrate overseas where they not only get a job, but get paid enough to be able to upgrade the lifestyle of strings of kin back in the home country.

Furthermore, there is a natural economic progression. When I first got here 15 years ago, I was getting around Y4000-Y5000 an hour for re-writing and proof-reading, Y5000 an hour for private English lessons, etc, and today most of these high paying jobs have disappeared. Private English lessons are paying between Y2000 and Y3000 an hour, re-writing and proof-reading have slid to between Y1000 and Y1500 an hour with a few lucky exceptions, and so on.

The management of one company I used to work for reduced every employee's wages by 10% and then later another 5% from President on down. This is not rare. It's been happening everywhere. If there is a slide downwards in wages across the country (for whatever reasons is not relevant) then it stands to reason that the domestic labor market may also be affected.

I'm curious to see if immigration will lower the benchmark wage for economic migrants to reflect the changes in wages being paid here. I think they have unofficially because there seem to be a lot of people renewing their visas with less than Y250,000 a month income.

By Gerald Vogt on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10:29 am:

For the math: Could please someone explain to me how the figure of 2466000 JPY a year that Josie proposed as total amount including everything is double as minimum wage which is as someone wrote 1800000 per year? Taking the figure of 2336 yours per year, 2466000 JPY makes it to 1055 JPY per hr, although the working hours proposed were 60 hours a week on 6 days which makes it 10 hours a day and a total of 2920 hours a year or 844 JPY per hour. In Josie calculation I could nowhere see the claimed double minimum wage of 1500 JPY per hr that everybody else mentions.

Also, I don't know whether the suggested salary is appropriate or not. I pointed out that I - as non U.S. - find it very odd at least that it seems to be the norm to take U.S. salaries as reference for what to pay in Japan. I wrote that I cannot see a reason why you would pay a certain wage in Japan only because a certain situation in the U.S. I do not see the connection even if Japan adopted many things from the U.S. after the war. I still consider Japan a different country from the U.S. But as other U.S. people here follow the same argument, it seems to me as if this normal for you. I personally do certainly compare the situation in Germany with the situation here but it would honestly not come to my mind that only because something is a certain way in Germany to treat people the same way here. I accept that living in Japan is more expensive. But this is exactly what I understood from the previous arguments of people to justify their proposed hourly rate by comparing it to what they got or not got in the U.S. How is that relevant at all?

Or take the "there is no shortage of willing volunteers". Maybe there is a certain agreed understanding of this sentence in the U.S. but to me it reads like "there are enough people out there that work almost as volunteer (illegaly if it has to be) for less then minimum wage because even that is a lot of money in their home country, so it is no problem". I am not native English speaker but if I read that sentence I feel chilly. But maybe there is something in the sentence I don't understand.

By Josie Salzman on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 12:08 pm:

Kelly - no, I dont believe its half the minimum wage! I did the math and the package I offer comes to be about 760 yen/per hour for a 55 hour week. Minimum wage is 714 yen per hour

There also seems to be some confusion - between 1500 yen per hour (which, yes, is about double the minimum wage - and many expats seem to pay part time helpers this figure) and the 150,000 a month, I am offering for 55 hours work. Please take into account that the minimum wage was most probably decided by Japanese government officials to ensure a person could afford rent and food and utilities - my potential helper would not have to pay these things.

Anyway, this conversation has been really useful to many, as I have received several e-mails at my personal address offering me more advice and comments. This is a hot topic! I have corresponded with only 2 Filipinas, and I welcome and encourage more to get the best perspective on this discussion...So, the e-mails I received from Filippinas consisted of the one that said i was not being 'nice' ( I assume she was filipina from her Spanish name - I could be wrong!) - here is are the 3 e-mail I received in from her in their entirety:

"you have to be nice and ur paying is BELOW MINIMUN "


i dont care we u graduated in the states . i am not asking anyway, i dont care too how much salary u'ved got THIS IS JAPAN> hellooooooooooooooooooooo"

"if i wer u get somebody from ur country "

Then the other letter I received from a Filipina wrote (she gave me permission to post her comments to me):

Hi Josie,
I have been reading the discussions in Tokyo with Kids and I have gained a lot of information regarding your dilema in sponsoring a maid. I am a Filipina and I have been there in Japan last September 2005 though I am back in the Philippines now. I have tried to look for a sponsor then and the average offer that I got is the same as yours, which is fair. There are a lot of people who will reply to your email and even some would be amenable to a lower salary. Though this may be the case, I would suggest that you stick to what you think is fair. The more you interview the better is the chance for you to get the right person who will honestly and loyally take care of your family. Reading your message gives me the impression that you are a kind hearted person and I hope that you would get the most caring person to take care of your family. Goodluck!
Send instant messages to your online friends

Again, thanks all for your feedback.

By Josie Salzman on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 12:26 pm:

Maria -
Isn't your proposition illegal?

By Maria Perera on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 12:52 pm:

No,I never do illegal things. Im really tired & fedup with my family. I want to go somewhere & live lonely.
Tkx for your message. pls send messages to my mail address

Thank you a million times

By Kelly on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 1:15 pm:

Gerald, I'm not sure what makes you "feel chilly"? It was intended as a simple statement of fact. Josie, is offering above the legal requirement in Japan (excuse my maths if I have made a calc error); and much more than her potential employees could earn elsewhere according to this treatise on Filipina wages:

So of course there will be no shortage of volunteers, would'nt there??

By Scotth on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 1:20 pm:

A post was moved out of view for the time being while it is determined if it was asking for something illegal.


By Gerald Vogt on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 2:10 pm:

Kelly, I still don't understand the relevance of the facts given in relation to what you pay here in Japan. What relevance does it have to what someone would get in another country on what you pay here in Japan? Is it O.K. to pay someone even less then minimum wage because the person accepts the job and she comes from the Philipines? (You don't say that but this seems to me to be the logical consequence of your argument that a Filipina earns much more here than elsewhere).

In consequence, this would mean you would ask the person "where do you come from" and then pay them according to what they would get in their home country and then maybe double it to be generous.

The more I read these arguments that are in my eyes totally irrelevant to what you should pay someone here in Japan the more they sound like justifications. And I start to wonder why it is necessary to bring all these justifications.

I for my part only pointed out in the beginning that I find it irrelevant for the actual wage for some service here in Japan what you would pay elsewhere or what you would earn elsewhere. So I don't find it reasonable to bring it into the context of a discussion about the wage of a nanny here in Japan. You should pay what is customary here and it should be legal thus not below minimum wage. You can compare to others in the same country and what they pay and it seems to me that it is not seldom that a nanny gets paid what Josie proposed. You can compare to your home country to see that Japan is expensive. But that is the extent you should compare it to.

Once you start to compare what you want to pay here in Japan directly to what you pay in the U.S. or what someone would get elsewhere you start a totally different perspective which highly points towards morality etc. It sounds like "I pay her minimum wage because that is still ten times as much as she would get in her home country and thus it is absolutely acceptable to pay that little" and not like "I pay her minimum wage and bonuses because that is what a nanny in Japan gets usually unless she is much higher qualified or whatever".

By Lisa Cash on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10:10 pm:

NEW TOPIC? Can someone out there who has successfully sponsored someone from the Philippines possibly email me a copy of a good employment contract? I'm trying to make one, but honestly I have no idea where to even start. And I want to get this right. Thanks so much--my email address is

By Cornelia on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 7:35 pm:

Look at post 2006 January 5 by Anne Bergasse above and see that Y150,000/month is the benchmark set by immigration for domestic worker.

By Simon Warburton on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 4:29 pm:

I am after information on how to sponsor a filipino domestic helper. I would like to have any information on the process and any information on the pitfalls I need to be wary of.

By Bapi and Nancy Maitra on Saturday, April 15, 2006 - 1:22 am:

Interesting thread. We are moving to Tokyo shortly with 2 kids and a 3rd due after we get there. My wife will be 7 months along when we move so we would need to get someone asap.

I have found the comments here generally very illuminating. On that note, let me digress, Gerald, by pointing out that this thread is on the going market rate for Filipina helpers. As we say in Chicago, it is what it is, but you seem intent on a pseudo-philosphical/ethical discussion which is, frankly, just muddying the waters. As the man said earlier, just tell us what you pay your nanny and get on with it.

Anyway, we are reluctant to take on someone without meeting them face-to-face, so we don't want to sponsor someone who is currently overseas. However, we would be more than happy to extend the sponsorship of someone who is already there. What is the best source for getting a listing of nannies in Japan looking for a new position? We would like to set up interviews immediately as we arrive.

Thanks, Bapi

By Admin on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 10:17 am:

The following reply was sent to "Admin" by the writer and answers the question, what paperwork is needed by immigration for sponsoring a domestic helper. It was written in response to a post above by Sari Helen Krassin on 24 Feb 2006.

"Hello Helen
To sponsor somebody doesnt requires money ok just document specially if she is only going to extend her visa. just
* contract of employment,
* organizational chart from the company
* justification letter
* copy of passport who's going to sponsor, visa page as well
* kids' copy(ies) of passport (to show that a nanny is needed)

you should asked her in return to worked with you one day free in exchange of the visa. no need to pay her insurance or air fare ticket if she is not working full time with you. full time means monday to saturday."

The name of the person writing seems to indicate that she is from the Philippines.

By Oliver Mauss on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 11:07 am:

For what its worth, did you know that you are more likely not to get a visa for a helper if your wife is Japanese? The reason I got was "its not necessary for your wife to get any help. She's Japanese, she can cope". When i retorted that I wanted a German speaker to help with language lessons, I was told that I should send the kids to language school... Funny stuff.

Also, just are reminder (hope this hasnt been mentioned, sorry if it has) that there are working holiday visa countries, such as NZ AUS, Germany, US, UK and a few others. Where your helper, if from any of these countries can come and work in Japan with very few restrictions for 1 year. In my case the person I'm trying to sponsor is from Austria, so no such luck...

By Nancy on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 4:13 pm:

Oliver, the intent of the working holiday visa is not to work. Here is the link with the information. I have pasted a small excerpt.
Conditions of the Working Holiday Programme
Since the Working Holiday programme is intended to promote greater mutual understanding, the applicant's primary aim should be to holiday in Japan. The programme is not designed for persons who mainly intend to work or study in Japan (for which purposes the appropriate visa should be sought)

If you are German speaking, why not try and find someone from Germany?

By Nancy on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 4:31 pm:

Just to reply to the above posting by Admin in which she is quoting the sender:


you should asked her in return to worked with you one day free in exchange of the visa.

As I said earlier,in the midst of the discussion in which it was suggested that this would be compared to slavery, I said that it was not the employers who came up with this incentive, but the nannies themselves in order to attract a sponsor.

After a very long wait, our application for sponsorsip was finally approved. It was a difficult process which began in January. The housekeeper we sponsored is very grateful, as she could not find another sponsor despite an exhaustive search. She feels her contract of employment is very generous and working one day without any wage was something we would never expect.

By Cornelia on Thursday, April 20, 2006 - 12:01 am:

Nancy, thank you for pointing out most precisely the point that I was making when I said that sponsorship has a very tangible value even if it is not a "bought and sold" item. This will of course continue to be the case in a world with such great disparities in wealth between nations and peoples. I don't think the nanny sees it as working "for free". The nanny sees it as paying for the sponsorship for which she feels indebted.

I've just had a discussion on this very subject with one of the lawyers involved in Yamila's case. She thinks that domestic sponsorships are easy to obtain and has criticised Yamila for not having procured a working visa in the time that she has spent in Japan. Needless to say she herself has never been in a position where she suddenly displaced herself into a country where she does not speak the language, and has no rights to work, nor skills that fit the locally definid limitations for guest workers. When Yamila first arrived in Japan her English was very limited, and her Japanese was zero.

Keep in mind that for every domestic worker sponsorship available there are 50 hoping for that spot, and many of them have experience and references! And, yes, there are many overstayed visas as a result of not finding sponsorship in time. Overstaying is generally preferable to losing the economic advantage of being here, especially after having invested a year's income in a plane ticket. For some reason this "picture" is very hard for some people to understand. Remember Marie Antionette "Let them have cake"?

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 11:50 am:

Had an interesting experience that relates to earlier discussions on "how responsible is the sponsor?". I made comments earlier that we have always tended to try staying in the loop of official communications with sponsorees.

On Sunday, a woman came to our door from Minato-ku looking for one month's health insurance payment that had gone unpaid. It was September of last year. In our case, since we pay this, it was our slip somehow. Also, we somehow didn't get the reminder notice she said was sent. I simply paid the 4,400 yen to this woman and case closed.

But, I felt that in another situation, I would have been thankful to find out about some missing payment BEFORE it became some serious issue for our sponsoree.

By Joe Larsen on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 4:55 pm:

>I simply paid the 4,400 yen to this woman and case closed.

Well, it might have been legitimate, and you can call me a cynic, but I wouldn't pay directly to someone who came to the door. It sounds very irregular. I would ask for a document to take to the bank or to the ward office to pay.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 7:29 pm:

Ha! Either I've been in Japan too long, or you have been too short. :) :)
No, really - she had a whole sheaf of computer printouts of other deadbeats, and the receipt she gave me had the person's name computer printed on it.

I thought it was typical "irregular Japan". All the famous technology, but a person comes to the door for cash. Very Japanese, if you ask me.

Wait - why is there a massage ad on the back of the receipt?

The other thing is that it would have been a very clever swindler indeed to have known the sponsoree's name, don't you think? For 4,400 yen.

But, I do need to be reminded of how the rest of the world operates - thanks.

By Joe Larsen on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 9:47 pm:

Hello: Been here 25 years and had more than a few visits from city employees asking for
payments (mostly taxes :-), but never for cash. It wouldn't be odd for the person to know the sponsoree's name if they worked for the city. ;-)

There's a reason for my skepticism. About 30 years ago, albeit in America, I opened a small restaurant and, soon after, I got a visit from a guy who looked very much like a bureaucrat. He had real-looking documents and informed me that I hadn't paid one necessary license fee. It wasn't a lot and I paid it.

Later I got suspicious and took the receipt to city hall where I was informed it appeared (they put stress on that word) to be a real city receipt but was for a bogus fee.

I think he worked for the city or had a confederate who worked there because he had both my personal and business names on the document before he arrived.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 10:39 pm:

Yes, I thought I'd seen your name on other posts with the authority of seniority.
Being skeptical or paranoid does increase the chance of survival! Let all readers take Joe's advice and do be skeptical of people coming to the door for money.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 2:01 pm:

Hi Joe, definitely legitimate. Depends on the local government though. I used to get the auntie collecting overdue NHI fees all the time when I lived in Bunkyo-ku. Never paid up though. Always accepted the paper and then paid later (at the post office) when I had the money. Where I now live they seem to have a longer lead time before they send a flesh and blood person. I haven't seen one yet.
Scott, I'm really surprised that your domestic's NHI premium is only Y4400 per month. I pay close to Y10000 for my daughter and myself, and I am at the lowest possible income level still able to qualify for a work visa.
The place to report scams (both internet, and in Japan) is at:
Yes, you do want to watch out in Japan! Read more there.

By Bernadette Estares on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 1:42 pm:

Hello.I am looking for some ideas.I am hired to do caregiving for a family & wondering which visa to apply for from outside Japan.Please I need your help.Please feel free to give me insights.Thank you so much.

By Tonette Binsol on Thursday, November 24, 2005 - 7:17 am:

(note from Admin: Perhaps DH stands for "Domestic Helpers". The following post has a somewhat confusing delivery, but I'm leaving it in. There have been isolated reports of the abuse of the Sponsor/DH relationship. All DH in Japan must go through a visa process which includes presentation of a contract to immigration. However, it is possible for the employer to keep the DH in ignorance, particularly if the contract is written in Japanese, since the employer is the one that submits the sponsorship paperwork.)

Last Sunday, I met a group of DH from Singapore who arrived in September. All five of them are transferees from Singapore. Their expat sponsors were given new assignments in Tokyo. It's a surprise that there's no such system provided by both Japanese and Philippine governments to provide a reasonable salary range and registration papers especially for two of them who were crying for help because of the degrading salary that they are receiving. One is receiving 32,000 yen and the other is receiving 80,000 yen and these salaries were reconsidered already by those expats. Why such a thing is happening in Japan? An expat who is moving from one country to another will naturally bring with him or her the Filipino maid whom he or she considers as indispensable because of her kind of work. I think there's misinformation in the side of the Philippine government to inform the maids (who depend on the info transfer from co-workers only BY CHANCE in the church or stores in Tokyo for example) and the Japanese government to inform the expats about the minimum salary of 150,000 yen (based on the Immigration office records).

I understand that in Singapore, the average salary for a DH is only $350 if I am not mistaken. Unfortunately, this rate is applicable in Singapore only. In Japan, with 32,000 yen you can pay for your telephone bills and utilities only. Although both of these crying ladies are live-in, the amount that they're receiving will not afford them to save or remit money for their families back home.

I hope that the expats in Japan could be reasonable in this regard. If we had been misinformed about it, I hope it's alright to research and understand the situation of your maids. After all, 150,000 yen should more or less equal the kind of help and support that your maid is providing you in your whole household and I am sure that this amount won't hurt.

There is a system for direct hires in Tokyo. The Philippine government has a hiring system and complete application for this kind of DH only... but for transferees, that remains to be seen. Hope they will act on it right away because there is a greater % of DH who are transferees from Singapore or HK.

For every domestic worker in Japan, data are necessary for the institutionalization request of your profession so please support the ongoing survey at .

Copied to TokyowithKids Forum and various mailing lists like Progressivetimes, Tulong Pinoy, OFW Japan Forum, Pinoy-Abroad-Forum, etc. for all expat and overseas mailing lists.

Let's support the DH in Japan

By Anouschkat on Monday, October 29, 2007 - 4:23 pm:


I was wondering if anyone can help? Does anyone have any good contacts or recommendations for immigration specialists to use, to help bring our live in filipina housekeeper (who has been with us for years and is like family) into Japan with us. We currently are in China, so we are well aware how "complicated" it can be to get the right visa!

Many many thanks in advance!

By Edlyn on Monday, October 29, 2007 - 5:29 pm:

I would highly recommend our lawyer, Koji Kurokawa. He has a great deal of experience helping Philipinas (and others) with visa issues. His contact information is:

TEL 03-3985-4661 FAX 03-3985-4662

He performed something of a miracle for us with Immigration and I really think that you will find getting your housekeeper won't be at all difficult.

By Shkopplin on Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 11:08 pm:

Looking for some advice--

My husband and I are both active duty military officers moving to Yokosuka, Japan this summer, which makes us SOFA status personnel. I am very interested in bringing my current nanny with us for the duration of our tour if that is legally possible; she is a Colombian national. I have lived in Japan before, and I am an attorney so I feel as comfortable as one can working through the bureaucracy.

I have read through this entire string of discussions and advice, but some of the postings were quite old so I thought I might ask some of the same questions again.

The law for visas seems unclear regarding SOFA status personnel, and I have not found another SOFA status family (with much research) who has attempted to bring someone to Japan. I have discussed this issue with the Japanese Consulate in Washington DC, and they can only tell me how to apply and that the Ministry in Tokyo would have to decide. Everything posted here seems to verify what the consular officer told me. So here are my specific questions:

(1) Am I best off just paying a Japanese immmigration lawyer to handle my situation?
(2) If so, what can I expect to pay?
(3) I see the recommendation from Edlyn posted on Oct 29, does anyone else have a recommendation?
(4) If this is unsuccessful, what would anyone recommend as my best course of action to find a nanny for my children (ages 4 and 1 when we move). We can have someone either live in or live out, but I must be able to do this legally.
We can offer a generous compensation package.

Any advice or recommendations are very much appreciated.

By Abinitio on Friday, February 1, 2008 - 1:09 pm:

I'm not sure but your nanny may qualify for the 'duration of tour' visa. This is a visa status awarded to helpers of Embassy personnel etc. SOFA status is a specialized status much like a counsellor of an embassy. You will more likely find the information you need about your nanny's visa within your SOFA network rather than in the general area of this board. Legal help should not be necessary to navigate this especially since you are not afraid to deal with the paperwork.

By Sandy on Wednesday, February 6, 2008 - 10:25 pm:

There are very few SOFA people participating on these boards. At least we don't hear from them! Definitely ask the US military first about bringing an additional dependent (unrelated by blood) or a nanny over. Whether you bring one with you or decide to sponsor one here, the paperwork would be the same. Some have reported that it is easier to get a new visa for someone that has been here for a while, though sponsored by a different employer. But this may not apply to the SOFA sponsor. I'm fairly certain it does not apply to the Embassy sponsored domestic employees.

If you hire a non-Japanese nanny here that already has a visa for Japan, then you don't have to worry about any paperwork at all, other than the compensation package of course.

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