Highly Skilled Professional Visa
The highly skilled visa is a special and relatively new type of visa in Japan, first introduced in 2012. It is based on points – the Immigration Office has a predetermined point chart (3 variations according to the different work categories), with points allotted to specific factors such as education, expected annual salary for the upcoming year and numbers of years of related work experience in the past, etc. A special note that the salary requirement is much stricter for business executives who hold top-ranking positions in their organizations – therefore, it is usually more difficult for top-ranking officers to meet this criteria than employees.
The criteria is fulfilled when an applicant reaches 70 points or more, and these applicants will receive the preferential treatments tied to this visa. In order to apply for a highly skilled professional visa, the applicant must have a specific job or job offer from a Japanese entity that is willing to sponsor the visa application, and the necessary requirements must be met (this is the same as in the case of a regular work visa). As in the case of a standard work visa, in order to apply for this visa, the applicant needs a specific job offer in Japan from a Japanese organization that is willing to sponsor the visa. The organization can be a company, Japanese branch office or Japanese representative office of an overseas company, NPOs, etc., and this organization must provide various documents relating to the work contract, company’s taxes, financials and business etc.
This is one of the more complicated visas to prepare for – as you will read further down in this post, the Immigration Law guarantees faster processing than standard visas to applicants of this work visa. However, in reality, the requirements are so particular that the Immigration Office will not accept an application until it has gone through a prior formality check and has been approved to submit. Therefore, although the processing is faster, the difficulty in this visa is actually to get the Immigration Office to accept the application, and applicants may find themselves in line for several hours at the prior checking counter, just to be told that the documents are insufficient and told to come again on a different day.
The Highly Skilled Professional Visa System has been largely amended during these recent years, and the most recent change has come into effect from late April of 2017. Under the new system, there are two ranks of preferential treatment, depending on the number of points that the applicant scores. (a) Level 1 preferential treatment – those who score 70 points or 75 points on the point chart will be able to apply for permanent residency after 3 years of obtaining or changing over to this visa. (b) Level 2 preferential treatment – those who score 80 points or more on the point chart will be able to apply for permanent residency after 1 year of obtaining or changing over to this visa.
Below are the areas in which applicants are most commonly awarded points (as of February 1, 2015). Note that the recent amendment effective April 2017 has introduced some changes to the point chart. To receive the most accurate information, please inquire directly through our contact form.
A) For applicants engaging in advanced specialized/technical activities
- When engaging in work requiring specialized knowledge or skills in the field of natural sciences or humanities for an organization in Japan (e.g. international sales, international trade, finance, PR, engineering, etc. The majority of international office workers will fall under this category.)
|Type of Degree||Points Awarded|
|Master||20 points (25 points for MBA, MOT)|
|Work Experience (related work experience)||Points Awarded|
|10 years or more||20 points|
|7 years or more||15 points|
|5 years or more||10 points|
|3 years or more||5 points|
|Age (at the time of application)||Points Awarded|
|Under 30 years old||15 points|
|Between 30 and 34||10 points|
|Between 35 and 39||5 points|
- Salary: Applicants may be awarded between 15 to 40 points depending on salary amount and age. 40 points will be awarded to applicants of all ages with an annual salary of 10 million yen or more
- Others: Additional points will be awarded to applicants with high Japanese language skills, or those who have graduated a Japanese university/graduate school or graduated top-ranking universities, etc.
B) Advanced business management activities
– When operating or managing a business organization in Japan (e.g. representatives or officers of an organization, etc.).
|Type of Degree||Points Awarded|
|Doctor or Master||20 points (25 points for MBA, MOT)|
|Work Experience (related to business management)||Points Awarded|
|10 years or more||25 points|
|7 years or more||20 points|
|5 years or more||15 points|
|3 years or more||10 points|
|Representative Director||10 points|
|Board Member||5 points|
- Salary: Applicants may be awarded between 10 to 50 points depending on salary amount, for annual salaries of 10 million yen or higher.
- Others: Additional points will be awarded to applicants with high Japanese language skills, or those who have graduated a Japanese university/graduate school or graduated top-ranking universitiesetc.
Holders of this special visa will receive the following special treatment:
- (1) Longer visa term: A 5 year visa will be granted to all applicants meeting 70 points or more.
- (2) Will be able to apply for Permanent Residency earlier: Holders of this visa will be able to apply for Permanent Residency after around 3 years or 1 year after obtaining / changing over to this visa. This is less than one third of the standard 10-year requirement for standard work visa holders (Please refer to our Permanent Residency Page for more details).
- (3) Priority for visa processing: Visa processing time will be much faster than for standard visa holders. Processing time will generally be less than half of the standard processing time.
- (4) Ability to sponsor a housekeeper when meeting certain requirements (i.e. salary requirement and family requirement (having a small child or full-time working spouse). Please refer to our Sponsoring Housekeeper Page for more details.
- (5) Ability to invite parents to live in Japan, when meeting certain requirements
- (6) Relaxation of requirements for obtaining a full-time work permit for the main applicant’s spouse
Please note that these are general requirements, and the requirements may be changed from time to time.
Work Visa Procedures
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Contact us for free initial consulting or to inquire about visa options and services. Whether you are an individual with new career plans or questions/concerns regarding your visa status, or a corporation seeking a smooth and efficient solution to facilitate your hiring process or in search of an accredited agency to submit visa applications on behalf of your employees, contact us to discuss your needs. Personalized visa solutions and services by an accredited Immigration agency available in both native English and Japanese.