Winter 20/21 been a tough winter for ski instructors and snowboard instructors in Japan with only domestic customers able to take lessons. Everyone is grateful that the resorts are open though, and it has been a great snow year so the extra free time has been constructively used ripping through Japan’s famous powder!
Winter 21/22 is a long way off and we have no idea what the future holds, but it seems that the visa situation for instructors who want to come to Japan as improved since an update in fall 2020.
Previously to be able to work in Japan there were two main ways: either those people here on a working holiday visa, or, if you have 36 months of experience you might be able to get sponsored for a Skilled Labor – Sports Instructor visa. 36 months of experience can take many years to accumulate in the winter sports industry, even if you are doing back to back winters between the northern and southern hemispheres.
The new visa is a Designated Activity Visa specifically for ski instructors. It does away with the requirement for the 36 months experience as long as you hold the SIA Alpine Level One certification, or a recognized equivalent. This equivalency is likely to make it much easier for less experienced instructor to be able to work in Japan.
The full list of recognized equivalent qualifications can be found here. Qualifications from NZSIA, BASI, CSIA, and APSI are all included.
The SIA qualification seems to be mainly for Japanese schools to qualify staff to work for them, so might not be the best route for trainee instructors who want to come to Japan.
It is believed that this change to the ski instructor visa for Japan has been in the pipeline for a while and is unrelated to the Corona-virus situation. The Skilled Labor visa, and working holiday visa are still options. It is also thought that the designated activities visa for ski instructors is likely to be short term, so possibly 3 month, or 6 month visas will be the norm.