Japan recently announced a new resident visa program in order to attract foreign talent. The program will provide eligible foreign nationals with priority immigration status. The decision was made at a meeting of relevant Japanese cabinet ministers on Friday. The new policy will feature a special category for highly skilled professionals, including foreign researchers and engineers who earn at least 20 million yen annually and have a master’s degree or ten years of work experience.
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Corporate managers who earn over 40 million yen and have at least five years of work experience will also be included in this category. After living in Japan for only one-year, eligible foreign nationals will be able to obtain the right of permanent residence and receive preferential treatment in immigration control. Additionally, graduates from top universities listed in the World Higher Education Rankings who are seeking employment in Japan will be eligible for visas lasting up to two years.
Japan has become a popular destination for foreigners due to its strong infrastructure, unique culture, rich history, and diverse economic opportunities. However, the country is facing a challenge due to its aging population resulting in a shortage of domestic labor. As a solution to this issue, Japan has turned to immigration.
Traditionally, a foreign national would need to reside in Japan for at least 10 years and hold a Japan work visa for at least five years during this period to obtain permanent residency (PR). However, news related to the relaxation of the requirements may make it easier for foreign nationals to obtain PR.
In 2012, Japan introduced the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional (HSFP) Visa, which used a points-based system to calculate an individual’s qualifications, including age, income, Japanese-language fluency, and work experience. This visa entitled the holder to certain preferential immigration benefits, including a shortened pathway to PR.
In late 2014, talks of further shortening the residency requirement to three years were in progress. In mid-2015, revisions were made to the HSFP Visa, introducing the Highly Skilled Professional (i) and Highly Skilled Professional (ii) (HSP) visa statuses. Under the HSP (ii) status, anyone who held the previous HSFP or HSP (i) visa status and worked in Japan under these statuses for at least three years was eligible for the HSP (ii) status. This status is similar to PR, but with added benefits.
In April 2017, the residency requirements for PR were shortened to three years for foreign nationals who scored 70-79 points and one year for those who scored 80 points or more based on the points calculation of the HSP Visa scheme. The applicant is not required to hold either the HSP(i) or HSP(ii) Visa statuses. The Ministry of Justice manages immigration into Japan but did not officially announce any further plans to shorten the residency requirements for PR.