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Pros and Cons: Highly-Skilled Professional versus Permanent Resident

Highly-Skilled Professional visa holder can enjoy preferential treatment (under specific conditions) such as “inviting his/her parent from home country for baby-sitting” and “hiring a domestic helper (housekeeper)”, the privilege which Permanent Resident cannot enjoy. Consequently, while Highly-Skilled Professional visa is advertised as a shortcut to Permanent Resident, for some people, it may not be a wise decision to switch from Highly-Skilled Professional visa to Permanent Resident. By the way, Highly-Skilled Professional visa is directly linked to a sponsoring organization, and therefore, it will become invalid when a foreign national changes a job to work at a different company/organization. In such a case, he/she has to apply for Highly-Skilled Professional visa once again from scratch. On the other hand, in principle, Permanent Resident don’t need to worry about visa even if he/she makes a career switch to a new job at a different company. So, considering pros and cons between them, it is a tough call to make as to which visa is better, either Highly-Skilled Professional or Permanent Resident, depending on circumstances surrounding each foreign national and his/her family. If you have any dilemma on similar situation, please don’t hesitate to contact me via “Inquiry” button above.


New immigration policy for 4th-generation Japanese descendants

Japan’s Ministry of Justice is planning to introduce a new immigration residency status program which makes it possible for 4th-generation Japanese descendants living overseas to enter and work in Japan on the condition that they have local supporters (such as Japanese relatives, host families, employers) who will keep providing them with various assistance including the Japanese language education, medical health information, support for cultural adaptation, etc. It is said that the program is targeting those who are aged 18 to 30 years old with basic Japanese conversational skills (N4 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test), and that successful applicants can be granted with “Designated Activities” status of residence for one year period which is renewable annually for maximum 5 years in total if their Japanese language skills are improving. In principle, it is not allowed to accompany their family members from a home country into Japan. The government is expected to request public comment shortly for the new program in order to introduce it within 2018.

Original news source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) dated January 1st, 2018, Morning Edition


New visa for "business startup preparation" would be introduced in Japan

METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and Ministry of Justice are jointly considering the introduction of the "business startup preparation" visa nationwide within the year of 2018. Foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Japan usually apply for "business manager" visa. For successful application, it is required to open a business office and hire at least two full-time employees or have at least five million yen's capital investment. Currently, only Tokyo metropolitan government and Fukuoka prefectural government have exceptional relaxation system based on the national strategic special zone. This initiative makes it possible for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain a six-month "business manager" visa before completing the standard requirements as mentioned above. Many foreign entrepreneurs, however, feel that "the six months are too short" as a necessary preparation period for renting a business office, opening a bank account on a startup loan, and so on. To address this problem, the planned new visa for "business startup preparation" is intended to offer a one year "period of stay" nationwide for alleviating the anxiety of foreign entrepreneurs.

Original news source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) dated December 8th, 2017, Morning Edition


Guidelines for foreign students to work at the Cool Japan industry sector

The Justice Ministry released the guidelines in September 2017 to clarify if foreign nationals who studied in Japan are qualified to work at the so-called “Cool Japan” industry sector such as animation (manga cartoon) and fashion design with some case-study examples on both permitted applications and rejected applications. For example, a foreign student who studied animation at a university (Daigaku) or a professional training college (Senmon Gakko) in Japan can be permitted to obtain “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” visa, if he/she is hired by an animation & game production company for a job position specializing in the design work of animation character creation. But, if an expected job is a simple task as an assistant which can be performed without any special expertise (e.g. just painting characters in colors), in such case, the visa application will most likely be rejected by the Immigration authorities even if he/she studied animation in Japan. The original guidelines are posted on the government website in Japanese language only.

If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, please contact me by clicking on the “Inquiry” button above.


Reporting Obligation of Mid and Long Term Foreign Residents in Japan

It may be confusing for foreign nationals living in Japan, but there are two types of reporting obligation in terms of where you report to.

Procedures at Municipal (City) Office

When you decide a new (initial) place to live or you change a place to live, you have to report it at a local municipal office within 14 days.

Procedures at Regional Immigration Bureau

For thorough and detailed information, please refer to the following link within the Immigration Bureau website on various kinds of reporting obligation.


Permanent Residency Guidelines Revised on April 26, 2017 by Japan’s Ministry of Justice

If you are “highly-skilled foreign professionals” currently living in Japan, a special exception would be granted in obtaining “permanent residency” according to the revision of the guidelines by the Japanese Ministry of Justice.  Those who score 70 points based on the Ministry’s points calculation table would be eligible for applying for permanent residency after 3 years on the condition that they meet several specific criteria. On top of that, for those who score 80 points, the waiting period could be shortened to just 1 year on the condition that they meet several specific criteria. The Government website is available only in Japanese language on this matter.
For further clarification, please contact me by clicking on the Inquiry button above.


Validity Period of Residence Card for “Permanent Resident” and “Highly Skilled Professional (II)”

When your application for permanent residency is permitted, you may think that you no longer have to renew your visa.  Actually, it’s not as simple as that.  The validity period of Residence Card is 7 years after its delivery date for permanent residents who are aged 16 years old or more.  So, application for renewal of residence card should be made from 2 months before the 7 years’ deadline date.  The same thing applies to “Highly Skilled Professional (II)”, those who have engaged in activities of "Highly Skilled Professional (I)" for three years or more.  Please refer to the following government website.

If you are interested in “Permanent Resident” or “Highly Skilled Professional”, please contact me by clicking on the “Inquiry” button above.


Highly-skilled foreign professional in high demand by the Government of Japan

In order to stimulate breakthrough innovation in technology and economy, the Government of Japan is desperate in attracting so-called “highly-skilled foreign professionals” (who have highly-advanced expert knowledge and skills) from overseas. Recently, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) opened the following information portal website “Open for Professionals,” with strong intention to raise awareness of foreign highly-skilled professionals on this matter. If you think you are “highly-skilled foreign professional”, please send e-mail me to on any question and clarification.

The Government portal URL:

Immigration Control and Refugee Act Amendment 2016

To cope with the problem of “imposter residents (bogus visa holders)” who illegally obtain visa status in Japan by filing false declaration with fake documents, the immigration control and refugee act was amended in December 2016 to include penalty clause for punishing imposter residents as well as anyone who facilitates the execution of such action for the purpose of profit. The criminal penalties include up to three years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of JPY 3 million. Please see the following government website (only in Japanese) in the link below.


Special Exception on the Period of Stay in Japan

You may find yourself in a situation where the expiration date of your visa is just around the corner and you are about to apply for the change or extension of the status of residence. What will happen if your permission to stay in Japan expires while the application processing is still underway? In such case, two months of grace period in maximum may be granted as stated in the Immigration Bureau website. Quote “A special exception shall be made for a foreign national who has filed an application by his/her expiration date of residence, yet has received no official decision on the application by the said date. In such case, he/she is allowed to stay until the point the decision is made for the application or two months after the expiration date, whichever comes earlier.” Unquote. Please confirm with the link below.

*Note: Temporary visitor is beyond the scope of this special exceptional treatment. Temporary visitor visa, in principle, cannot be changed to another visa directly while in Japan.


Point-Based Preferential Immigration Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals

Highly skilled foreign professionals to be defined based on the points evaluation system may be able to get various preferential immigration treatment such as bringing parents to take care of a baby and bringing a household employee to accompany to Japan. For those who are interested in the point evaluation system, please contact me by clicking on the “inquiry” button above.


Importance of Resident Tax Payment

Depending on the previous year’s income, local government shall levy resident tax on city residents including foreigners. If a foreign resident does not bother to pay resident tax, he/she may face problem in renewing his/her visa or in applying for permanent residency. Please refer to the following government website.


Part-time job Restriction for International Students in Japan

In case of Student visa, if an in-advance permission is given by Tokyo Immigration bureau, under certain conditions, it can be possible to engage in part-time work up to 28 hours per week maximum. Foreign students exceeding the limit (by working extra hours and/or working for multiple employers) may face problem including deportation order and denial of visa renewal. Please refer to the following government website.


Trusted Traveler Program

Japan started the Trusted Traveler Program in last November. Under the Trusted Traveler Program, foreign business persons and other eligible foreign nationals who meet certain requirements will be able to use the automated gates in major airports with a “registered user card” issued by the Minister of Justice.


New status of residence “Nursing care” will take effect next year

Finally, it’s official that “Nursing care” will be added to occupation categories which can permit mid-long term residency to foreign nationals. The legislation which passed on November 18th will take effect within the year of 2017, allowing foreign caregivers to continue to work at nursing care facilities in Japan on the condition that he/she passed Japan’s national exam to be certified as “Kaigo Fukushi-shi” (Certified Care Worker).


Attention to "Designated Activities (Long Stay for Sightseeing and Recreation) Visa”

For retired business persons, if you are wealthy enough to have more than 30 million Japanese yen in your bank account, why don't you consider obtaining "Designated activities” visa on “Long stay for sightseeing and recreation” in order to travel across Japan beyond 90 days? With the Japanese yen weakening against US dollar, now is a good time to visit Japan and explore various aspects of traditional Japanese culture. For more details, please see the following government website.


Shortcut for permanent residency under consideration by the Japanese government

For highly skilled professionals (foreign nationals with excellent management or academic / technical expertise), Japan’s Immigration Control Act currently requires at least 5 years to become eligible for applying for permanent residency. According to informed sources, this waiting period would be shortened to 3 years, and there is a possibility for those who are regarded as the best talent among them to get a 1 year pathway to the permanent resident status. The specific details of this plan is still under consideration, but it is expected to be finalized by the end of March next year.


Examples of successful and unsuccessful visa applications to work in the Japanese anime industry sector.

Thanks to “Cool Japan” strategy, increasing number of foreign students come to Japan for studying how to design and create “Anime” at vocational schools (professional training colleges / Senmon Gakko) in Tokyo. According to Immigration Bureau, here are some information on both successful and unsuccessful visa application examples.

- Successful example: A foreign student, completing a cartoon & anime specialized course and graduating from a professional training college (Senmon Gakko) in Japan with Diploma (Senmon-shi), applies to work at a computer IT service company in Japan for dealing with anime gaming application development including anime character design.

- Unsuccessful example: A foreign student, completing a cartoon & anime specialized course and graduating from a professional training college (Senmon Gakko) in Japan with Diploma (Senmon-shi), applies to work at an anime creation company for dealing with assistant job only such as background painting without having any initiative in creative activity.


The lower house of the Diet approved a bill to add "Nursing Care" visa as a new status of residence.

On Oct. 21, the House of Representatives Judicial Affairs Committee approved a bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act for adding "Nursing Care" as a new status of residence. Subsequently, the House of Councilors will deliberate the bill and most likely pass it into law during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session. The purpose of the revision is to allow foreign nationals who hold Japan’s nursing care license to live and work for a long period in Japan as professional care-givers at senior care homes.


Are you aware of the Departure Order System?

Under the Deportation Procedure, in principle, illegally-staying foreign nationals are detained and deported from Japan by Immigration Bureau.  However, under the Departure Order System, overstaying foreign nationals can be allowed to leave Japan without detention if they meet criteria such as


(1) Voluntarily appearance at a regional immigration office

(2) Intention to leave Japan as soon as feasible

(3) No crime record (imprisonment) such as theft after entry into Japan

(4) Non-repeater of illegal-stay

(5) High reliability of leaving Japan at the earliest possible convenience


Another advantage of the Departure Order System is the prohibition period before reentering Japan.  Those who are deported from Japan under the Deportation Procedure cannot reenter Japan for at least five years.  In contrast, the reentry prohibition period for those who leave Japan under the “Departure Order System” is one year.  This difference deserves attention.  For more information, please visit the Immigration Bureau’s website.


Heads-up on Residence Card

Foreign nationals have to notify local regional immigration bureau within 14 days in cases such as…

If you have any questions on necessary procedures and documentation, please send e-mail to


Government of Japan considers shortcut to permanent residency for highly skilled foreign professionals.

Currently, those who are staying in Japan with the “highly-skilled-professionals” visa can apply for permanent residency after five years. This waiting period could be reduced to less than three years. By obtaining permanent residency, it gets easier to make a home mortgage loan with a bank in order to buy a house in Japan. Legislative bill to make a change in the waiting period will most likely be submitted to the regular Diet session in 2017.


Prospect for the creation of new visa category “Nursing Care”

Diet discussion has been carried on for a legislative bill to create a new “Nursing Care” visa (status of residence) from last year’s 189th session to this year’s 190th session which is still ongoing. Considering Japan’s super-aging society and serious shortage of caregivers, people have high expectation for this legislation.


National strategic special zones allow foreign nationals to enter Japan for working as a housekeeper.

In principle, Japan’s immigration control policy prohibits foreign nationals from entering Japan with intention of engaging in housekeeping service. However, this ban can be lifted under certain conditions within the “National Strategic Special Zones”, designated special areas where regulations are relaxed for stimulating Japan’s economy. The conditions for foreign nationals include (1) basic capability to communicate in Japanese; (2) experience of working as a housekeeper at least for 1 year; (3) employment contract with a government-approved organization, etc. Link to the government relevant page.


Ota-Ku (Tokyo) is planning to start a new type of accommodation facilities (Min Paku) in 2016, targeting foreign nationals.

With the number of foreign visitors increasing, Ota-Ku (Tokyo) has drafted a local government ordinance (so-called “Min Paku Jourei”) to relax regulation on accommodation facilities for foreign nationals who stay at least for 7 days. The Japanese government selected Ota-Ku as one of the “National Strategic Special Zone” which is entitled to relax various administrative regulations. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic is expected to attract increasing number of visitors from overseas, because Haneda international airport is located within Ota-Ku. As an incentive for foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses, it is also planned to relax Immigration Control Law’s visa requirements within the “National Strategic Special Zone” including Ota-Ku.


A legislative bill to create a new status of residence (Nursing Care category) did not pass in this year’s 189th Diet in Japan.

A legislative bill to create a new “status of residence” category for foreign nurses and caregivers did not pass the Diet approval process this year. It should be discussed again in the next Diet session, most likely in 2016. Related link (in Japanese)


The Social Security and Tax Number System (so-called My Number System) starts on October 5, 2015

You will be notified of your Social Security and Tax Number (so-called My Number) at your registered address in or after October. If you are unable to receive your Social Security and Tax Number (My Number) at your registered address for reasons beyond your control, please hand-deliver or mail the application form to the municipal office where you are registered between 24 August and 25 September. For more details, please see the following homepage.


Designated activities (long stay for sightseeing and recreation) visa to nationals and citizens of visa waiver countries started on the 23rd of June 2015.

Wealthy foreign nationals meeting criteria can obtain specified visa (designated activities) to stay long for sightseeing and recreation in Japan.

For more details, please see the following homepage.


Impact of newly introduced "Exit Tax" on foreign nationals in Japan

The national tax agency Japan sets the following rule on "exit tax" to be introduced from 1st of July 2015.

Link to relevant page on National Tax Agency Japan website (available with only Japanese language)


For any inquiry, please click here. (e-mail consultation for free of charge)