Ms. A writes: "I'm in Japan right now looking to work as an English teacher but I don't have the right visa. Right now, I only have a tourist visa, and I want to apply for the residence card as well. I have a place right now registered in my name. I know I can't do freelance work without a proper visa so I'm in limbo, but I'm going to talk to schools about part-time or private tutoring."

Mr. B asks a related question: "Is it possible to get a self-sponsored visa from outside Japan? I was in Japan on an exchange for one year and have been planning to get back there to work. Since I am not a native English speaker, it is hard for me to get one of the big schools — or the smaller ones — to sponsor my visa, although they seem interested in my working for them as an teacher paid by the hour without actually being hired.

"I am really excited about working and living in Japan, especially as it is almost certain that my wife will be going there from December. However, the more I research, the harder it seems to get a proper visa. What exactly would I need from a school that would help me get a self-sponsored visa?"