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Friday, Nov. 15, 2002

LIFELINES

Visa rules and looking for a dream job


More health concerns

Dear Lifelines; As I understand it, anyone one with a visa for a year or more can enter National Health Insurance. But is the sheme compulsory? And once entered, are you able to leave it if you can find private health cover with an overseas firm? -- Reader in Kansai

Dear Reader in Kansai; As is so much in Japan, this is a very tricky question. The best way to put it is is this -- it is compulsory, but there is no penalty if you do not join. Once you enter you cannot leave the program.

In other words, if you are not already in the system, it might be good to compare similar private programs. Generally if your income is reasonable, the National Health Insurance should be the best, as it is based on a sliding scale -- the higher your income the greater the cost -- and it covers dental as well as other areas that many private insurance programs don't. Most of all there is no "pre-existing" condition requirement.

A dear friend of mine has a serious heart condition and amazingly has not been able to get any insurance overseas because all have a pre-existing condition clause. In other words, the insurance does not cover any disease that you already have. Japanese National Health Insurance does not have such a clause.

Do I need a BA?

Dear Lifelines; Is it still feasible, without a BA, to come to Japan and make a living teaching conversational English? Japan's been a dream for years. -- Terry in Washington

Dear Terry in Washington -- Please keep in mind that Japan is in the worst economic situation in 50 years. Jobs are extremely difficult to come by. At the same time there is a strong desire by many to learn English.

The best would be to check out The Japan Times on Monday, where there are a number of English teaching jobs listed -- having made contact with English-teaching companies, you'll need to discuss qualifications and requirements with them, although most do look for at least a BA, or some form of teaching qualification.

In fact, some companies even ask you to produce your original degree to guard against so-called 7-11 degrees (i.e. altered and color-copied degrees).

Some schools are more flexible. However, do make sure to have a contract that covers all you expect before you fly over.

Coming and going

Dear Lifelines -- I have been working in Japan for around two years now. I have a valid visa for two more years and a multiple re-entry permit for that time. I may take up a job outside Japan soon. My question is, is my visa still valid if I leave Japan, and will it be OK and possible to enter Japan for short visits later on using that visa?

In that case should I retain and carry the alien registration card when I depart Japan? -- Mr. G in Tokyo

Dear Mr. G -- A multiple entry visa allows you to enter and leave Japan as many times as you wish. As long as your visa is valid, there is no requirement to be in Japan continually.

Of special interest is the changes in the re-entry permit. These changes were put together by members of the international community. A few years back the, Living In Japan Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan brought up the discrepancy between the length of visa and length of re-entry permits.

This was conveyed to the Immigration Office. Various other Chambers of Commerce joined in a petition and, believe it or not, as of last year, the law was changed, and for the first time, your re-entry permit matches your visa. You can fight City Hall! And win!

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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