The Ibaraki International Association has recently begun a service for the foreign community to answer any questions foreigners might have concerning their legal status in Japan. Trained professionals are available for free, confidential legal advice over the phone on weekdays (except holidays) from 9 am to 4:30 at 029-244-3811 (in Mito). Help in English (and, of course, Japanese) is available everyday, and help in other languages is available part of the time. Those languages with fixed times include Bengali on Mondays and Thursdays, Portuguese on Tuesdays and Fridays and Chinese on Wednesdays. When requests come in for other languages such as Persian, Spanish, Thai, Korean and Tagalog (Filipino), arrangements can be made for a later date.
A typical question and its answer are as follows:
Q: I am a foreign student, studying at a local university. Do I need to get some sort of permission to take a part-time job?
A: It is essential. Under the terms of the Immigration Control Act, a foreign student or foreign resident engaged in "cultural activities", having the status of "college student" ("ryugaku") or "pre-college student" ("shugaku") must apply for and obtain permission in advance for any remunerative activity other than that permitted under his or her present status of residence.
Under the amendment to the Immigration Control Act, which came into effect in 1990, a student (or other foreign resident) wishing to engage in a paid activity other than that permitted in his or her present status, must apply for an additional status known as "Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted" at the nearest immigration office (Hitachi or Tokyo). According to the new law, after such permission has been granted, a student is allowed to work up to a maximum of 4 hours per day (8 hours during summer vacation). Likewise, it should be mentioned that strict penalties against employers who hire foreigners without such permission have been instituted, with such employers being subject to up to three years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 2 million yen.
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