In order to promote entry of highly-skilled foreign professionals, a points-based system (preferential immigration treatment) was introduced on May 7, 2012.

1. Who are “Highly-Skilled Foreign Professionals”?

According to the Report of the Council for the Promotion of Acceptance of Highly-Skilled Professionals (May 29, 2009), “The quality, unsubstitutable human resources who have a complementary relationship with domestic capital and labor”, and “the human resources who are expected to bring innovation to the Japanese industries, to promote development of specialized/technical labor markets through friendly competition with Japanese people and to increase efficiency of the Japanese labor markets

2. The Three Categories of Activities of Highly-Skilled Foreign Professionals

(1) Advanced academic research activities “Highly-Skilled Professional (i)(a)”

Activities of engaging in research, research guidance or education based on a contract entered into with a public or private organization in Japan.

(2) Advanced specialized/technical activities “Highly-Skilled Professional (i)(b)”

Activities of engaging in work requiring specialized knowledge or skills in the field of natural sciences or humanities based on a contract entered into with a public or private organization in Japan.

(3) Advanced business management activities “Highly-Skilled Professional (i)(c)”

Activities of engaging in the operation or management of a public or private organization in Japan.

3. Details of preferential immigration treatment

(1) Highly-Skilled Professional (i)

(a) Permission for multiple activities during the stay in Japan

Usually, a foreign national is only allowed to engage in the activities permitted under a single status of residence. However, a highly-skilled foreign professional may engage in activities covered by multiple statuses of residence, such as simultaneously engaging in research activities at a university and in the management of a business organization related thereto.

(b) Grant of the “5 years” period of stay

The longest period of stay legally permitted (5 years) is granted uniformly to highly-skilled foreign professionals. This 5 year period may be extended.

(c) Relaxation of requirements for grant of the permission for permanent residence concerning the period of stay in Japan

In principle, in order to obtain permission for permanent residence, a foreign national is required to stay continuously in Japan for 10 years or more, but in cases where a foreign national has engaged in activities as a highly-skilled foreign professional for 3 years, or cases where a highly-skilled foreign professional, who is deemed as particularly skilled (a person scoring 80 points or more), has engaged in activities as a highly-skilled foreign professional for 1 year, the foreign national will be eligible to apply for permission for permanent residence.

(d) Permission for the spouse of the highly-skilled foreign professional to work

When a foreign national staying in Japan under the status of residence of “Spouse” intends to engage in activities covered by statuses of residence for work, such as “Instructor,” “Engineer,” or “Specialist in Humanities/International Services,” he/she must satisfy certain requirements with regard to academic background, work experience, and the like, and obtain the relevant status of residence. A spouse of a highly-skilled foreign professional may engage in these activities even if he/she does not have the required academic background or work experience, etc.

(e) Permission for bringing the parent(s) to accompany the highly-skilled foreign professional to Japan under certain conditions

Under the current system, parents of foreign nationals staying in Japan under a status of residence for work are not allowed to enter in Japan. However, the parent(s) (including a non-biological parent) of a highly-skilled foreign professional or his/her spouse is allowed to enter and stay in Japan subject to conditions detailed below:

(i) where the parent will take care of a child younger than 7 years of age of the highly-skilled foreign professional or his/her spouse; or

(ii) where the parent will take care of a pregnant highly-skilled foreign professional or to a pregnant spouse of a highly-skilled foreign professional

Major requirements

(i) The highly-skilled foreign professional’s household annual salary* is 8 million yen or more.

Total annual salary of the highly-skilled foreign professional and his/her spouse

(ii) The parent(s) lives with the highly-skilled foreign professional.

(iii) Limited to the parent(s) of either the highly-skilled foreign professional or his/her spouse

(f) Permission for a domestic worker to accompany the highly-skilled foreign professional to Japan under certain conditions

Only foreign nationals who stay in Japan under statuses of residence such as “Investor/Business Manager,” “Legal/Accounting Services,” etc., may employ foreign domestic workers. However, a highly-skilled foreign professional may bring a foreign domestic worker to Japan subject to certain conditions.

Major requirements

(i) When the highly-skilled foreign professional continuously employs a domestic worker who has been employed by him/her in a foreign country.

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional’s household annual salary is at least 10 million yen.

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional may bring only one domestic worker.

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional plans to pay the domestic worker at least 200 thousand yen per month.

・ In cases of entering Japan together with the highly-skilled foreign professional, the domestic worker accompanying the highly-skilled foreign professional has been employed by him/her for at least 1 year up to the time of the highly-skilled foreign professional entering Japan.

・ In cases where the highly-skilled foreign professional enters Japan first, the domestic worker accompanying the highly-skilled foreign professional has been employed by him/her for at least 1 year up to the time of the highly-skilled foreign professional entering Japan, and moreover, has been employed by the highly-skilled foreign professional even after the highly-skilled foreign professional entering Japan, or by a family member, who was living with the highly-skilled foreign professional prior to the highly-skilled foreign professional entering Japan.

・ The relevant domestic worker has been employed by the highly-skilled foreign professional for at least one year before entering Japan.

・ The relevant domestic worker is expected to leave Japan with the highly-skilled foreign professional.

(ii) When the highly-skilled foreign professional employs a domestic worker not falling under (i)

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional’s household annual salary is at least 10 million yen.

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional may bring only one domestic worker.

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional plans to pay the domestic worker at least 200 thousand yen per month.

・ The highly-skilled foreign professional has certain family circumstances (i.e., where he/she has a child under 13 years of age or a spouse unable to do housework due to illness or for other reasons).

(g) Preferential processing of entry and residence procedures

Applications for entry and stay of highly-skilled foreign professionals are processed more quickly than others.

Applications for preliminary immigration examination (issuance of a certificate of eligibility) are scheduled to be processed within 10 days of receipt.

– Applications for the examination the status of residence are scheduled to be processed within 5 days of receipt.

(2) Highly-Skilled Professional (ii)

“Highly-Skilled Professional (ii)” is for foreign nations who have engaged in activities of “Highly-Skilled Professional (i)” for three years or more.

(a) In conjunction with the activities “Highly-Skilled Professional (i)” permitted to engage in almost all of the activities of statuses of residence based on employment

(b) Granted an indefinite period of stay

(c) Eligible for the preferential treatment of the above mentioned (1)(c) to (1)(f)

4. Point calculation and Required Application Documents

The applicant must submit a point calculation form pertaining to the activities he/she intends to engage in and documentary evidence of the points and apply for recognition as a highly-skilled foreign professional.

As above mentioned (1.(1)(G)), an issuance of a certificate of eligibility and the examination the status of residence are scheduled to be processed within 10 days and 5 days of receipt respectively. However, it is essential for applicants to seek a pre-screening check at a counter of the Business and Employment Inspection Department prior to submit an application.

For inquiry to Visa and Beyond by Takatsuka Office, please send a message through a contact page.

Published by Takatsuka Office たかつか事務所

Yuichi is an Administrative Solicitor (“Gyoseishoshi Lawyer”) as well as a Registered Migration Agent. オーストラリアから帰国後、「街の身近な法律家×国際人」として地域の皆様の力になりたいとの思いより、JR南浦和駅近くに行政書士事務所を開いた高塚雄一です。

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