Highly skilled professional visa in Japan: how to apply for it?
The Japanese government has an entry system for highly qualified foreign professionals to attract talent to the country. A Japanese visa for highly qualified specialists is issued on a point system to foreigners who meet certain criteria. Find out more about how to apply and how much it costs
As of 2023, the foreign population in Japan is 2.5% of the total number of residents. Most often, citizens of China, Korea and Vietnam issue work permits in the country, and many representatives of the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and other countries of the world live here.
In general, the number of foreigners arriving on the islands is increasing every year. One of the turning points in the growth of migration to Japan is considered to be the introduction of visas for highly qualified workers in the country. However, this permit is issued exclusively to foreigners who meet certain criteria, and a point system is used for calculation.
We talk about the features of issuing a highly qualified professional visa in Japan below.
Who can apply for a highly qualified professional visa to Japan?
A highly qualified professional visa in Japan is issued in three cases:
1. Visa for advanced academic research activities - for foreigners who will participate in training or research in a public or private organization in Japan.
2. Visa for advanced specialized or technical activities - issued by people who have specialized skills or knowledge in the field of natural sciences or humanities and who will work in a public or private organization in Japan.
3. Visa for advanced business management - it is granted to expats who will manage a public or private organization in Japan.
Features and benefits of a highly qualified professional visa in Japan
A Japanese highly qualified professional visa differs from a regular Japanese work visa in the following features:
- A system according to which points are awarded according to certain categories: age, level of Japanese language proficiency, level of education, scientific achievements, professional qualifications, etc.
- A foreigner can apply for a permanent residence permit after three years instead of waiting 10 years.
- If you get 80 points in the evaluation system, you can apply for a permanent residence permit after one year.
- The permit is granted for 5 years with the possibility of extension.
- Moving with the family is allowed.
- The wife or husband gets the right to work.
- You can engage in multiple activities on a Japanese highly skilled professional visa without having to obtain a separate permit for each of them or change your residence status
Requirements for issuing a highly qualified professional visa to Japan
In order to obtain the right to apply for a highly qualified professional visa to Japan, the following requirements must be met:
1. Fall under one of the above categories.
2. Score at least 70 points according to the point system.
3. Work only for the company that sponsored your visa.
Importantly! If you wish to change employers, you must apply for a new Certificate of Eligibility if the work you will be performing still meets the requirements of the Highly Skilled Professionals Program.
How are points calculated for obtaining a highly skilled professional visa to Japan?
Points can be obtained according to the following criteria:
- Level of academic education - from 10 to 30 points;
- Professional experience - the more experience you have in practical work, the higher points you will receive: work experience of 10 years or more - 20 points, work experience of 3 years or more - 5 points.
- Salary level - in order to be eligible for a highly qualified professional visa to Japan, your salary level must be at least 3 million yen per year ($20,350) - 5 points, the maximum 40 points are given to workers with a salary of 10 million yen per year year ($67,800).
- Age: 29 years or less - 15 points, from 30 to 34 years - 10 points, from 35 to 39 years - 5 points.
Additional points can be obtained for the following requirements:
- The foreigner will work in an organization that receives financial support (10 points).
- Has a diploma from a Japanese higher education institution (10 points).
- Passed the Japanese language proficiency exam at the N1 level or you graduated from a foreign educational institution majoring in Japanese language (15 points).
- You have an N2 level of knowledge of the Japanese language (10 points).
- You have previous scientific achievements (15-20 points).
The scoring form can be downloaded from the Japan Immigration Bureau website.
List of documents for obtaining a Japanese highly qualified professional visa
The detailed package of documents will vary depending on your profession and specific circumstances, but will usually include:
- Valid passport with photocopies.
- Passport size photo.
- Employment contract – documents with detailed information about your position in the company/organization, the salary you will receive and the duration of work.
- Confirmation of your academic qualifications (diplomas, certificates, etc.).
- Confirmation of previous professional training (work certificate, letter of recommendation, etc.).
- If you apply for a “change of residence status”: your current residence card, confirmation of previous tax payments
- Documents related to the organization that will employ you, such as company registration, profit and loss statement, etc.
- Any additional documents supporting your application (for example, your Japanese language proficiency test results, proof of academic achievements, etc.).
How to apply for a highly skilled professional visa to Japan?
Both foreigners staying abroad and expats already living in Japan can apply for a highly qualified professional visa. However, in any case, you will need to obtain a Japanese Certificate of Eligibility prior to the actual visa application as a first step.
1. The procedure for applying for a highly qualified professional visa to Japan from abroad.
- When you apply for a Japanese highly skilled professional visa while abroad, your sponsor (the company or organization that employed you) must apply for your Certificate of Eligibility at the local immigration office in Japan.
- You must send the relevant documents to the company, as well as a scoring form, where you have indicated your qualifications and corresponding points.
- Once the Immigration Office has reviewed your application (and if they find it acceptable), you will be issued with a Certificate of Eligibility.
- Based on the Certificate of Eligibility, apply for a Japanese visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country.
2. Applying for a highly skilled professional visa for those residing in Japan.
If you are already in Japan on another type of visa (such as a student visa or a standard work visa), you need to apply for a change of category to a Japanese highly skilled professional visa:
- You or your employer apply for a certificate of compliance at a local immigration office in Japan.
- Submit all the required documents along with the scoring form where you have indicated your qualifications and relevant scores.
- Once the Immigration Office has reviewed your application (and if they find it acceptable), they will issue you with a Certificate of Eligibility.
- Use the Certificate of Eligibility to apply for “Change of Residence Status” at your local Immigration Office in Japan.
For what period is a highly qualified professional visa issued in Japan?
A Japanese highly skilled professional visa can be issued for 1, 3 or 5 years for the main applicant, his/her spouse and children.
What is the cost of obtaining a highly qualified professional visa in Japan?
Although there is no specific application fee for this special visa, expect to spend around ¥400,000 ($2,700) or the equivalent in your home currency.
Visa processing period for highly qualified specialists in Japan
An application for a Japanese high-skilled visa at a Japanese embassy or consulate abroad is processed within 5-10 working days from the moment of submission of the package of documents.
An application for a certificate of compliance, which is submitted to the immigration service, is considered within 10 days.
If you submit an application for "Change of residence status", the application is considered within 5 days.
How to extend a highly skilled professional visa in Japan?
Before your visa expires, you can apply for a visa extension at the local immigration office in your region of residence. The fee for extending the permit is ¥4,000 ($27).
If you have received a three-year visa, you can apply for a permanent residence permit in Japan instead of extending your visa.
The editors of Visit World recommend using the Work Guide for Japan for a comfortable and safe trip.
The guide is a detailed written document that contains basic advice on obtaining a visa, crossing the border, getting a job, citizenship, and much more. More details at the link.
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