JAPAN – New Points Based System for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals
Japan’s Immigration Bureau has brought in a new points based system, effective 7 May 2012, for highly skilled foreign professionals, which will grant preferential treatment to those who qualify, including permission for multiple purposes of activity in Japan, expedited processing time, and permission for spouses to work in Japan. The system is explicitly designed to attract foreign nationals with advanced abilities and skills to Japan to stimulate the economy and business environment.
How Are Applications Made?
The new system operates within the current system, so when applications are made for Certificates of Eligibility (COE) under current processes, applicants now have the option to request that their application is assessed against the new highly skilled criteria. The applicant must assess their own eligibility under the points system, and submit this self-assessment in support of the application.
How Are Applications Assessed?
The new system allows for three categories of highly skilled work activity, as follows:
- Academic research activities
- Advanced specialised/technical activities
- Business management activities
Applicants will be scored against point tables specific to the category under which they are applying. A total of at least 70 points must be gained in order to be granted “highly skilled foreign professional” status. The points calculation tables can be accessed here.
Benefits of the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional Status
Applicants who are granted highly skilled foreign professional status will benefit from the following preferential treatment:
- Permission for multiple purposes of activities during the stay in Japan, e.g. setting up a business in addition to working for an employer
- Relaxation of requirements for permanent residence (applications may be made after five years continuous residence in Japan, as opposed to the standard 10 years)
- Priority processing: For Highly Skilled Foreign Professional applications, the Ministry of Justice will work to process paperwork for entry within 10 days of receipt
- Permission for a spouse of a highly skilled foreign professional to work (under the standard process, spouses are permitted to work only up to 28 hours a week and must apply for special permission for this)
- Permission to bring a parent as a dependent, if meeting certain conditions (applicant must have a child aged under 3, parent must live with applicant, applicant salary must be at least 10 million yen a year)
- Permission to bring a domestic worker (e.g. nanny, housekeeper), if meeting certain conditions
Applications for Change of Status
Foreign nationals already in Japan with an immigration status that entitles them to take up employment should assess their potential eligibility for the new Highly Skilled Foreign Professional status and then may make an application to change status, in order to benefit from the preferential treatment available.
- Review upcoming applications to determine if a request for Highly Skilled Foreign Professional should be submitted, as, if granted, this status will give your senior staff preferential treatment
- Review existing populations in Japan to determine if change of status applications should be submitted for any existing expatriates
- This is a new process and a new system, so seek professional advice on applications