Working more than 28 hours a week is illegal in Japan as per Japanese the immigration laws. However, in order to cover the tuition fees, loans, and other living expenses, the requirement to do more than one part-time job is a compulsion, as per students who went to Japan through ‘Learn and earn’ program by the Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO).
In line with that, one Bhutanese girl who went through the same scheme was deported to Bhutan on 6th December after the Japanese immigration found out that she was working more than 28 hours in a week. Lhamo’s case is the first case of deportation among the Bhutanese students who went to Japan under the ‘Learn and earn’ program in Japan. “Upon scanning my resident card, all my details were shown which revealed that I was working two jobs,” said Lhamo.
“Though the immigration gave me one month to leave Japan, the school didn’t even give me chance to pack my own belongings or meet any of my friends” she added the school prepared to send her back to Bhutan on the same day she was caught.
She also said she gave an advance payment of 150,000 Yen for the vocational training after passing N3 examination for which she didn’t receive any refund. “I also gave 100 percent attendance in school despite all the hardships which are why it’s disheartening what the school did this to me.” She said despite reporting the incident to BEO right after the arrival, there was no response from the agency. “I’m worried that I’m running out of time to repay my loans.”
Moreover, around 28 Bhutanese students were also caught by the Japanese immigration for working more than 28 hours a week. The students were issued a warning letters for working two jobs by the immigration authority.
Sangay Lham, who left for Japan on June 2017 and is currently studying in Sakura Japanese Academy in Fukuoka said six of them were caught by the immigration office for working more than 28 hours during the time of their visa renewal three months ago. “The actual extension would be for one year, but for us, we were just given a six-month time period from the immigration.” She said that the letter notified that if the individual warned were further caught working more than 28 hours a week after six months from the date of renewal, the immigration will take further action.
While six of them were caught from the July batch, Sangay said she later learned that almost all the students who came to the same institute in October batch were caught recently for the same reason and were issued a warning letter from the immigration office in Japan. “It’s difficult to confirm the total number since we hardly get to meet each other due to our busy schedule and difference in timings but I heard from someone that almost all the October batch were caught”.
The committee comprising of parents and students of the ‘learn and earn’ program, however, got the information that seventeen were recently issued a warning letter by the immigration office. However, it was later confirmed by one of the October batch student who also got warning from the immigration that 22 of them were recently issued the similar warning letter from the immigration authority.
Sangay said, “There is no means to survive here without doing two part-time jobs since we have to cover all the expenses including loan payment, tuition fee, apartment rent, bills, and other living expenses by ourselves.”
Even after working for more than two part-time jobs it isn’t enough for us to cover the total expenditures which include the travel expenses to work and school.
“Since it’s impossible to survive by working just one job, I’ve decided to continue doing two jobs and try to cover up my loans and return home by March.”
Sangay said she has decided to return to Bhutan anyway after finding it difficult to cope up with the stressful work conditions and situation out there. “Many of those who are still continuing with two jobs would be deported.”
“Some who decided to do just one job after the warning is facing difficulties in managing money, I believe most of us have decided to come back because if we are to stay here, we have to do just one job.” “Moreover, we have to be ready to get deported any time because immigration might question us anytime,” she added.
Sangay also shares that one of the students in the same institute had her visa and passport snatched by the school for not being able to pay the tuition fees. She said the student was unable to get a second job because of which she was not able to pay the tuition fees.
Sonam Tshering, currently studying in Kobe International Japanese School, in Hyogo prefecture said visa extension is impossible if the school fees are not paid on time. “But until today we have managed ourselves to pay fees among other expenditure though we face many difficulties in the accumulation of money.”
The students those who returned home also said it was not possible to sustain without doing two part-time jobs having to pay for the loan, tuition fees, rent, bills and many more.