New visa statuses! New policy! Permanent residency is now possible?!

  • The Japanese Government is proceeding with the revisions of the Immigration Control Law in order to welcome more foreign workers.
    A proposal has been established within the year and by 2019, April, a new system might be added.

    New proposal. New visas!


    The Immigration’s control law is quite old; it came into effect in 1952 and it was formed under the occupation of the allied nations, mostly revolving around America after the loss suffered in 1945; the law has been revised for several years and the main purpose back then was to diminish the illegal residents coming to the country.

    Although reinforcement was the main objective, the recent proposal has changed 180 degrees towards how to accept foreign workers, for the most part because of Japan’s decreasing population and labor shortage.
    This time the proposal is proceeding towards it and discussions are advancing in the direction that two new types of residence cards will be created. In this article, I will introduce you the new 特定技能/ Tokutei ginou (specified skills ) visas that will be available from 2019.

    But first…

    What visa categories are there?


    Before introducing the new statuses officially announced by the government, a brief introduction about the already existent visas would probably help you understand better how it works.

      The current visas have three main groups:
      1. Working Visa
      2. Non-working Visa
      3. Family-related Visa

    However, if you for example have an Instructor visa (which falls into the working visa category), but are married to a Japanese Citizen and would like to get a spouse visa, too, you will have to choose between your working visa and spouse visa since you can only possess one.

    Working visas

    In order to obtain a work visa, you need to have a high level of education and professional knowledge or skills. To get a sponsorship, you need either a bachelor’s degree or many years of experience in an exact type of job/field.

    The working visas are divided into a few categories too.

  • For those who work in private institutions, the most common types are:
    1. 1. Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/ International Services that usually require either University degree or 10 years of experience for the first two types and for the latest, 3 years of experience or a Degree.
      2. Intra-company Transferee with the condition that he/she worked more than 1 year in the overseas office
      3. Skilled Labor that needs to have 3-10 years of experience in the field
      4. Business Manager that needs to proper resources to start a business here, in Japan
  • Highly-Skilled Professional, introduced in May,2012 for the talented workers that possess advanced skills
  • The type of visa for people with certain knowledge you will need a skill in a certain field, such as journalist, professor, artist etc.
  • It is very important to mention that until now, there were no work-visas for waiters/waitresses, clerks, hair-stylists, construction workers etc.

    Non-working visas

    These usually apply to Students, dependents, trainees etc.
    For those who possess a student/ dependent status (Spouses/children of citizens that possess a working/study visa in Japan), it is possible to obtain a work permit if permission from the Immigration Office is granted, but not more than 28 hours per week.
    Is important to know that you are not eligible to work on a trainee or temporary visitor visa.

    Family-related visas
    In these categories fall spouse/child of Japanese citizens type of visas, long term residents etc.
    These visas have no restrictions, so you are free to work in any fields, change careers etc.

    `Specified Skills No.1` Visa Status


    For the first type of visa, Japanese language is a requirement and the period of stay will be for 5 years; however, you won’t be able to bring your family along.
    You will need to have some level of industry-specific skills and even though the maximum is for 5 years it can be renewed or switched to the Specified skills No.2

    Specific Skill No.2 Visa Status


    As for the 2nd type, `Specified Skill` no. 2 residency visa, you will need higher qualifications in your field, but you can be granted permanent residency and is also possible to bring your family.

    Some of the fields included in the new residency statuses are nursing care, cleaning the buildings, construction, agriculture, lodging, fishing, clerks etc.

    What to expect?


    In contrast to to the previous working types of visa, starting from next year, it is expected that working in many other fields with not as many requirements as before will become a reality.

    In comparison with the advanced professionals’ types of visas established in the previous amendment, year 2014 and the work-status allotted to it (Engineer/Humanities/ International Services skill), the hurdles fell considerably, so mostly any type of work will now be possible.
    According to the Immigration laws, simple labor wasn`t allowed, but it will become possible with the new types of visas.

    The labor shortage has become a serious problem, reason why, it has been divided into extracurricular activities in the past few years, for those that came to Japan on either a student or a dependent visa, as mentioned above. People on these types of visa are granted permission to work part-time, but within a certain number of hours per week. Needless to say, is starting to approach its limits, so measures must be taken, and revisions need to be made.

    Information about the 14 industries included in the revision

    As an update, 14 industries are included in the revision; the Government of Japan has indicated the number of people that will be accepted for each industry in the following 5 years to come, having as start the year 2019.
    For more specific information, please take a look below:

    Industries and number of people


    Author’s photo

    Reference Link Ministry of Justice Website

    From now on, if it`s these industries, many foreigners will be granted a status of residence. However, you will need to take an exam to prove your knowledge/skills and you`ll also need to pass the Japanese exam before you are granted a status of residence.
    Along with the skill tests, there will be some changes in the Japanese language proficiency, too. The skill exam is important, but for each industry, the required daily vocabulary is different, so the Japanese test is essential, too.
    The examination will change according to the specific industry , therefore the system will slightly differ from the conventional Japanese language examination.
    For more information , please refer to the following article:

    Japanese Language Proficiency Test Website

    So, kind of work will I be able to get when after passing all the exams?

    Let’s have a look at the following target industries:

    Food service industry


    In the food service industry, even under the current law, you can obtain a status of residence as a cook of foreign cuisine.
    However, obtaining that qualification is not easy. In order to qualify, you need to be a cook who specializes in foreign cuisine.
    Moreover, that dish needs to be a outstanding here, in Japan.

    So, Japanese restaurants won`t do..neither the Chinese chain shops owned by Japanese companies, such as restaurants that specialize in dumplings or ramen.
    How about curry? If is just curry is useless, so you should aim for an Indian Restaurant.
    Work experience is again mandatory. It is necessary to have experience working as a cook /cook at a foreign restaurant for more than 10 years.
    Moreover, the employment certificate is also necessary. On these terms, is hard to obtain a visa, right? Not anyone can qualify on these conditions.

    In order to qualify for working in the restaurant industry in Japan, special skills are required at the moment, so it makes it impossible to work in the hospitality service, kitchen assistant or washing the dishes.
    Because of that reason, the shortage of the so-called simple labor has become serious in the food industry and not only!
    Due to the lack of personnel, it became possible for the foreigner students and those on Dependent visas,for example, to fill in the empty spots the Japanese citizens can`t fill. However, as mentioned before, the limit is withing 28 hours per week, so the restaurant is trying to make the shifts according to that.

    Another matter that makes it difficult for both sides is that, as an international student, working after graduation is forbidden.
    Even if it`s just simple labor,the shop will be the one who takes responsibility if such a matter occurs. In this field, we also deal with people and customers, so when suddenly quitting just because of your status of residence , a big hole is left behind.
    Under the current legislation, you can`t continue working just because you are a foreigner..quite unfortunate for both foreign workers and restaurants, right?
    However, by the new law, these tasks will fall under the “Specific Skill No. 1” type of visa, so these kind of concerns won`t exist anymore.

    As shown in the table above, the restaurant industry will accept up to 53,000 foreign workers in five years from 2019!!

    Stay with us for more information about other industries.


    【Updated: New immigration law ahead of Lower House passage】

    Regarding the immigration control law amendment about new visa statuses which passed the Committee of Judicial Affairs of Japan’s House of Representatives(as previously reported by Japan Info), was sent to the Upper House to be deliberated on Tuesday.
    There were a few revisions, but it was approved almost the same as we had reported.
    The Government and the ruling party aim for the establishment within 10th of December and it will be followed by the start of a new policy from April 2019.

    We will keep following this subject on Japan Info, so if you have anything you’d like to find out, write on our forum.