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Highly Skilled Professional Visa

Happy New Year!

I assume many of you spent the New Year's holidays at home this year. This time last year I wrote a blog titled “How to change visa from student to work visa”. This year, I would like to write about a Highly Skilled Professional visa.

Year of animal tablet (cow) at Matsuo Taisha Shrine, 2021

What's a Highly Skilled Professional Visa?

First, there are four types of Highly Skilled Professional visas ((ⅰ)a, (ⅰ)b, (ⅰ)c, (ⅱ)).

Highly Skilled Professional (ⅰ) has three categories depending on the activities of each highly-skilled foreign professional.

(a) Advanced academic research activity

(b) Advanced specialized/ technical activity

(c) Advanced business management activity

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

If you would like to aim for a Highly Skilled Professional visa, please check your points using a Point Calculation Table of your category. If you reach 70 points and you can prepare documents that provide proof for each item, you can apply for a Highly Skilled Professional visa.

The Point Calculation Table comprises items such as educational and professional background and income. The items include “have graduated from a Japanese university” and “Japanese language proficiency”, so I recommend that international students studying at a Japanese university, who have received a job offer from a company in Japan, see if they can reach 70 points.

Note that an annual salary of more than 3 million yen is required when applying for a Highly Skilled Professional visa. Hence, one cannot be recognized as a highly-skilled foreign professional if the expected salary is under 3 million, even if the total points of other items exceed 70.

As of June 2020, 16,286 people hold a Highly Skilled Professional visa. (This picture shows snow in Kyoto in 2020).

Advantages of a Highly Skilled Professional Visa

Holders of a Highly Skilled Professional visa can receive several preferential advantages, compared to a regular work visa holder.

  1. The length of visa is 5 years: In the case a Highly Skilled Professional visa application is approved, a 5-years period of stay will be automatically granted.

  2. Relaxation of a PR application requirements: In principle, a foreign national is required to stay in Japan continuously for 10 years or more to apply for a permanent residency. However, applicants who obtain a Highly Skilled Professional visa will be able to apply for a permanent residency after 3 years of working and living continuously in Japan. Moreover, those who score 80 points or more will be able to apply for a permanent residency after a year. ※Note that there are other requirements to be fulfilled (payment of tax and pension contributions, for example) when applying for a permanent residency.

  3. Work permit for Spouse: Spouses of a highly-skilled foreign professional are allowed to engage in activities covered by a status of residence “Instructor” or “Engineer/ Specialist in Humanities/ International Services” without meeting academic and professional requirements.

  4. Permit to bring parents/ hiring a domestic helper under certain conditions

Other preferential treatments for a highly-skilled foreign professional include a permit to engage in multiple activities and a quicker examination process.

Points to note regarding a Highly Skilled Professional Visa

In case of those who are on a standard work visa such as “Engineer/ Specialist in Humanities/ International Services”, “Professor” or “Instructor”, only the notification of change of sponsoring organization is required when one changes an employer and engages in similar activities for a new employer. However, a Highly Skilled Professional visa is tied to the sponsoring organization. Therefore, when one changes an employer, it is necessary to change a visa.

A Highly Skilled Professional visa is definitely the quickest way to a permanent residency application. We strongly recommend one who might reach 70 points to apply for this visa. Please note the document load for the visa is higher than with regular work visa applications. If you consider working with a Gyoseishoshi lawyer in Kyoto to apply for this visa, please feel free to contact us!

A 2021 resolution: I hope to climb Mt. Atago, pictured in the background, with my family this year!


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