Examination for Special Skilled Visa: Easy or Difficult?

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  • One of the most concerning news for foreigners living inside as well as outside Japan is the new type of visa, the “special skilled visa” (特定技能ビザ) allowing more than 340,000 foreigners to legally live and work in Japan up to 5 years. Moreover, this type of visa covers a wide range of industries, and there are no strict requirement for qualifications and experience like the current working visa. Regardless of your educational background, if you pass an examination specifically designed for special visas and obtain the Japanese certificate in beginner level, you will receive a pass ticket to make your Japanese dream come true.

    Due to the “open to all” characteristic of this type of visa, when the first examinations for each industry were held, the number of registration far exceeded the limit for examinations. In fact, the number of candidates set by the Japanese government for the first examination of special skilled visa in the food / beverage manufacturing industry was 340, and only the first day of application was enough for all seats to be taken!

    The requirements for the candidate remain very simple, but is the Japanese government making it “difficult for foreigners” right from the “ticket gate” to the special skilled visa? Or is it hard because of the lack of preparation from the examination organizers? Please follow the article below for further information.

    Look-back on the very first examinations

    Since April 2019, the Japanese Ministry of Labor and related organizations has held the examinations for special skilled visa in three industries: lodging, food/beverage manufacturing and nursing. Examinations for the remaining industries will be organized from the autumn of 2019.

    Examination for nursing industry

    Held on April 13th 2019 in Manila – the capital of Philippines, this is the first examination for special skilled visa applicants and also the first overseas exam organized by the Japanese government for those who want to come to Japan to legally work. The number of applications for the examination was filled during the first day of the opening registration!

    Examination for lodging industry

    Held on April 14, 2019 in seven major cities of Japan, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka, the special skilled visa’s examination for foreigners wishing to work in hotels and inns, etc. received 761 applications, but only half of them were allowed to take the examination.

    Examination for food / beverage manufacturing industry

    Held on April 25 and 26, 2019 in Tokyo and Osaka, the examination quickly closed its application in less than the first day of opening application in late March. Only 340 people were lucky enough to take the examination on the first day of examination, the results are expected to be published at the end of May 2019. Another examination will soon be held in June 2019, in two cities of Japan with a large number of foreigners, Sendai and Sapporo.

    Feelings of “Lucky” and “Unluckily” Applicants

    Candidates taking the special skilled visa’s examination come from many different countries. As for the Osaka examination for the lodging industry, there were 58 candidates, including 32 Vietnamese, 10 Chinese and 5 from Myanmar and Nepal, etc. There are candidates currently living in Japan as students or trainees, but there are also people who spend a lot of time and money to come to Japan to take the examination.

    Kandel Krisna Kumari, a 23 years old Nepalese graduated student currently living in Kobe, said: “The test is not difficult, I completed all the questions. I want to work in a Japanese inn. Once I have 20 years of experience in hotel services, I will go home and run my own hotel business in Nepal”.

    合格 – Gokaku, mean “pass the examination”

    Tong Thi Tam, a Vietnamese trainee working in a plastic processing company, participated in the examination in Toky, said: “For me, the exam was quite easy, as in the revision guidebook. I really like the lodging industry, because I have experienced working at a 4-star hotel in Vietnam. I want to try my best in a hotel in Japan and improve my Japanese skills ”. Although she must leave Japan because of the expiry of her visa, Tam wishes the certificate of completion of this examination will help her to soon go back to Japan.

    Nevertheless, not everyone is lucky enough to take this examination. Many international students working at the Matsuya chain restaurants want to take the exam to get more job opportunities after graduation, but “cannot register because the number of entries allowed is extremely limited and the number people register too crowded ”. Indeed, there are some recruiting agencies have opened on-behalf registration services, taking advantage of this inadequacy.

    Has the Japanese Government Improved this “Exceed of Demand Over Supply”?

    The examination of special skilled visa becomes difficult not because of the content of the questions. As we have seen, the number of visa seekers is very limited, making it difficult for foreigners from the first step to access the new residence status. It is undeniable that the major cause here is due to the lack of preparation even though the preparation process has been carried out for 4 months before the enactment of the revised Immigration Control Law.

    Regarding the examination for the food / beverage manufacturing industry, the examination organizer – “Organization for Technical Skill Assessment of Foreign workers in Food industry” (OTAFF) opened additional 1,000 seats for the examination on April 26th, after the number of only 340 candidates allowed to take the examination on April 25th was criticized. However 1,000 is still not enough. The second examination is expected to allow 2,000 foreigners to attempt the examination. Still there are concerns this number will not meet the foreigners’ need of registration yet.

    The Japanese government planned to increase the number of examinations held in abroad, but this is also a miscalculation. Currently, only five countries (out of 15 countries which are the main human resources for Japan under the new Immigration Law), including the Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia and Mongolia, signed a memorandum of understanding about the exam administration.

    Negotiations with Vietnam have not progressed properly as expected. Earlier, the government had expected an examination for food / beverage manufacturing industry to be held in Vietnam in April 2019, but there has been no further official information so far. Mos Burger (Japan) – a fast food company, along with their subsidiary in Vietnam, was preparing to recruit 20 Vietnamese candidates coming to Japan on special skilled visa. However, because the examination in Vietnam was postponed, they said the candidates are still attending a Japanese school while waiting for news.

    In addition, companies receiving foreigners with this special skilled visas are quite confused because it is their first attempt. Therefore, like the Japanese government, companies will conduct the process, as well as learn and draw experiences to not only ensure equal employment for all foreigners but also solve the problem of labor shortage.

    The expanding of the examinee frame for special skilled visa’s examination is an urgent issue, because if it is not promptly solved, many foreigners will lose the opportunity to pursuit their dreams. Hopefully, the Japanese government will soon take effective measures to acquire the goal: welcoming more than 340,000 foreign workers to Japan within 5 years from 2019.

    Nikkei’s article
    Asahi’s article