Photo/IllutrationA job festival for foreign students is held in Tokyo in November 2017. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A vocational school in Tokyo has refused to issue recommendation letters for graduating foreign students who may need the documents in their quests for jobs and to stay in Japan.

The International College Dual Business, located in Taito Ward, said it has long been its policy not to give such letters to foreign students.

“We work on (education) based on the policy that we want students to find jobs while in school,” a school official told The Asahi Shimbun. “We have decided not to issue recommendation letters because it is difficult for us to understand their situation after graduation.”

The policy could result in a loss of residence status among students who cannot find employment before graduation.

The official said the school will contact the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau for instructions, if needed.

But the Justice Ministry has already expressed its stance.

“We want the school to issue recommendation letters for students who are graduating without any problems and want to continue seeking work,” a ministry official said.

The school official said 319 students are enrolled at three departments, including international tourism and hotel management, this fiscal year. More than 80 percent of them, or 268, are foreign students, a 2.6-time increase from 101 in fiscal 2014.

Foreign students who graduate from colleges or vocational schools in Japan and start to work in the country usually change their residence status from “Student” to “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” by submitting a certificate issued by their employer.

If they cannot find a job while in school and want to continue looking for employment after graduation, they must change their residence status to “Designated Activities,” which allows them to stay in Japan for six months.

This status can be renewed once, enabling the graduates to remain in the country for a year in total. But to gain the “Designated Activities” status, they need to submit a recommendation letter issued by the school they attended to the regional immigration bureau.

The document is needed to show immigration authorities that the school sees no problems with the graduate remaining in Japan.

However, in its application guidebook, the International College Dual Business states flatly: “We will not issue school recommendation letters.”

A Nepalese who graduated from the school in spring this year said he asked the school for a recommendation letter because his student visa was close to expiring.

A staff member of the school, however, told him that the school had never issued the letter for any foreign student.

Eighty-three foreign students graduated from the school in March, and 58 of them expressed a desire to work in Japan. Of them, 53 received job offers before graduation, according to the school.

An official of the Justice Ministry’s entry and status division noted that many foreign students want to work in Japan.

“We set up the ‘Designated Activities’ status for the purpose of smoothing the way for them to gain employment,” the official said. “Therefore, it is a problem if the school is not issuing recommendation letters for all students.”