How to get that almighty visa in Japan?

The majority of foreigners arrive in Japan on a tourist visa. Japanese authorities will give you a 90-days permission to visit the land of the rising sun so you will have plenty of time to travel around the country and visit the most important sightseeing spots. You can even leave the country for a visa-run to South-Korea, come back in a few days and get another 90 days of unlimited stay, but this should not be practised more than once a year, because you will get caught. If you want to stay a bit longer a study abroad program should be your choice and you can find a few articles on these on this site. But what if you have long term goals in Japan? What kind of options do foreigners with entrepreneurial mindset have? For them Japan has invented the “highly-skilled individual or 高度人材ポイント制” visas and I am going to talk about this system a little bit in this article.

How to apply for a Japanese visa



Obviously, this type of visa is not for those who just want to spend some time in Japan and immerse themselves in the world-wide famous entertainment industry of the country. In order to get one of the highly skilled visas you not only have to prove your skills and achievements to the Japanese imigration authority, but you also have to present some kind of future plan, because the principal goal of this program is to entice more educated foreigners to the country in order to unbalance the decreasing birth rate Japan is facing these days. Other countries have adopted these kinds of measures already many years ago and the flux of intelligent people from less developed countries into top-tier economies is perceivable.


Three visa types for highly skilled individuals in Japan


Japan is trying to get on the same track and they have introduced the highly skilled “academic researcher or 高度学術研究分野”, “technical expert 高度専門・技術分野” and the “business manager 高度経営・管理分野” visa programs. The immigration office will give you points based on your skills and past achievements in each case you have to score above 70 points. The lowest you can get for an achievement is 5 points and you can even get 50 points for earning over 30 million yen a year. Well, the system is not generous at all. They want to make sure that only the elite is awarded.


Firstly, let’s see the point system in detail for each visa class.


Highly skilled academic researcher(高度学術研究分野)


If you are applying for this kind of visa, you can get 30 points for a PhD, 20 points for an MSc and 10 points if you have an undergraduate degree. So even with a PhD, you would need an additional 40 points to start the application process. Multiple degrees will earn you 5 additional points.


Work experience(職歴)also counts. 15 points for more than 7 years, 10 points for more than 5 years and 5 points for more than 3 years. This means that even if you have a PhD and you have already worked for 7 years, so I guess you are at least 35-37 years old, you only have 45 points.


Age counts as well. 15 points to those who are younger than 29, 10 points to those who are younger than 34, 5 points to those who are younger than 39.


Yearly income is also an important factor. The points are on a linear scale starting from 4M yen yearly (38.200 USD) and 10 points all the way up to 10M yen (95.500 USD) yearly with 40 points.


There are a few other things they consider when you submit your application, but the points are almost negligible compared to the ones I described above. You will get the most points (15 points) for a JLPT N1 certificate. 10 points for your JLPT N2 and you will receive 10 points if your university degree is from a Japanese educational institution.


So in order to get this type of visa, you will have to focus on the following things: university degree, work experience, age, yearly income and Japanese skills (start with Hiragana and Katakana now!).


Highly skilled technical expert(高度専門・技術分野)


If you are applying for this kind of visa, you can get 30 points for a PhD, 20 points for an MSc and 10 points if you have an undergraduate degree. Multiple degrees will earn you 5 additional points.


Work experience(職歴)is another factor. 20 points for more than 10 years, 15 points for more than 7 years, 10 points for more than 5 years and 5 points for more than 3 years.


Age is taken into account too. 15 points to those who are younger than 29, 10 points to those who are younger than 34, 5 points to those who are younger than 39.


Yearly income converted into points in an identical way. The points are on a linear scale starting from 4M yen yearly (38.200 USD) and 10 points all the way up to 10M yen (95.500 USD) yearly with 40 points.


You will get the most points (15 points) for a JLPT N1 certificate. 10 points for your JLPT N2 and you will receive 10 points if your university degree is from a Japanese educational institution.


So in order to get this type of visa, you will have to focus on the same things: university degree, work experience, age, yearly income and Japanese skills.


Highly skilled business manager(高度経営・管理分野)


The conditions for a business manager are somewhat different. Educational background is less valued and financial particularites are much more emphasised.


You can get 20 points for a PhD, 20 points for an MSc and 10 points if you have an undergraduate degree. Multiple degrees will earn you 5 additional points in this case.


Work experience is very important in this case. You will get 25 points for more than 10 years, 20 points for more than 7 years, 15 points for more than 5 years and 10 points for more than 3 years.


And then yearly income. This is a linear scale starting from 10M yen (95.500 USD) yearly for 10 points and you can get 50 points for 30M yen (287.000 USD) yearly.


If you are a representative director you can earn 10 points and if you are a company director you will get 5 points.


You will get the most points (15 points) for a JLPT N1 certificate. 10 points for your JLPT N2 and you will receive 10 points if your university degree is from a Japanese educational institution.


So in order to get this type of visa, you will have to focus on the following things: university degree, work experience, yearly income and Japanese skills.


What kind of benefits do these visas provide?


There are 7 important points to mention here.


  • (1) Permission for multiple activities
  •    Foreigners in Japan are usually allowed to engage in only one type of activity. Those who hold this new “highly-skilled” visa can undertake other types of tasks. A good example would be a researcher who starts doing some kind of side hustle in his/her free time.
  • (2) 5 year visa free stay
  • (3) Fast access to permanent residency in Japan
  •    Foreigners in Japan in most cases are required to stay in the country for at least 10 years before they can apply for permanent residency or 永住権. Highly-skilled individual visa holders can initiate their application in 3 years or if you scored over 80 points this term is reduced to a single year for you.
  • (4) A spouse is allowed to work with no certification
  •    A spouse of a foreigner in Japan is allowed to work, but in certain cases the ability to undertake the given task must be certified. If you are a highly-skilled individual visa holder your spouse can work without such a certification.
  • (5) A parent of a visa holder or the spouse’s parent is allowed to enter the country (* with some conditions)
  • (6) One paid worked from overseas is allowed to enter with the visa holder (* conditions apply)
  • (7) Fast application procedure (~15 days)


You can read more on this by visiting the website of the Immigration Bureau of Japan.


Illustration: pakutaso.com


Content: LB



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