Foreigners get nod to skip social insurance

The Immigration Bureau announced Wednesday new guidelines for foreign residents, stating that joining the social insurance system is not a requirement for renewing or changing one’s visa status.

The bureau told The Japan Times on Feb. 1 that it had decided to change the wording of the new guidelines — which were originally drawn up last March and scheduled to take effect April 1 — to ease concerns that those without social insurance would be forced to choose between losing their visa and joining the insurance system.

The original version of the guidelines said foreign residents must present their health insurance card when reporting changes to or renewing their residential status.

The wording has now been revised to read:”In order to promote signing up for social insurance, we will ask (foreign residents) to present their health insurance card starting April 1. We will not reject renewal or change of visa status for failing to present the card.”

Immigration Bureau official Aiko Oumi said, “We just want to persuade foreigners to join the social insurance, but we heard from many people that the original version sounded like having social insurance is a requirement.”

In some cases, employers [violate the law by not enrolling] their foreign employees [in] the social insurance system to cut costs.