The Japanese government has recently decided to let permanent residency become a little bit easier for “highly skilled foreign professionals.” There is now a “one year fast track” to permanent residency status for certain (i.e. very, very specific) people that the government wants to appeal to so it can have enough qualified employees (to actually make the Olympics a success-I mean, be seen as more international).
What is a “highly skilled professional?” Well, the immigration website gives three distinctive categories of people.
- Advanced Academics: People who do “activities engaging in research, research guidance or education based on a contract entered into with a public or private organization in Japan.” In other words, they’re looking for professors or heads of a field, this wouldn’t apply to students.
- Advanced Specialized/Technical Researchers: They’re defined as “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.” Basically, scientists and researchers.
- Advanced Business Managers: Those who “engage in the operation or management of a public or private organization in Japan.” In other words, business people, but not the every day salaryman. They’re looking for the higher level individuals.
Even if you’re one of these HSP’s, you’ll need to go find out if you’ve equaled out to the 70 points required for permanent residency. First of all, do you have a PhD or a MBA? Because that’s the first thing on the list of need to knows in order to get points. Only the specialized and technical researchers can have a BA.
From there, the point system gets kind of stringent. Anywhere from 40 points to only 10 points based on annual salary and age. There are bonus points for certain qualifications or current employment sectors, and then 15 points devoted to Japanese Language Proficiency, but only for the fluent level (N1). There are no points given for any of the lower levels.
In other words, although the news is welcome for people who already have a high salary and are fluent in Japanese, nothing about this system would welcome the average foreigner living in Japan (as in, someone studying in Japan or people with BA’s being ALTs). These people will have to do things the hard way, living in Japan for over 10 years before being allowed to have permanent residency, or marrying someone who is Japanese. Unfortunately, it’s a fast track only for those already on the high track.