Hello, I'm Hong from IMS Legal Professional Corporation. Foreign students who graduate from vocational schools are attracting attention for their increased ease of finding employment or expanded job opportunities. I would like to explain specifically how this relaxation has been implemented.

Vocational School versus Training Colleges

Firstly, I would like to briefly explain the terms "senmon gakko" (vocational school) and "senshu gakko" (specialized training college), as "senshu gakko" is the term commonly used in immigration laws. According to Japan's School Education Law, a "senshu gakko" is an educational institution with a study period of one year or more, an annual curriculum of 800 hours or more, and at least 40 students enrolled at all times. Within "senshu gakko," there are three courses: advanced courses, specialized courses, and general courses. Schools that offer specialized courses are referred to as "senmon gakko" (vocational schools).

Titles After Graduation

Graduates of vocational schools are granted the title of "senmonshi" (vocational specialist) or "kodo senmonshi" (advanced vocational specialist). Since foreign students need the title of "senmonshi" (or "kodo senmonshi") to obtain a work visa after graduating from a Japanese vocational school, it is generally perceived that many students graduate from the specialized courses (vocational schools) of senmon gakko, which have a study period of two years.

The relaxation measures for obtaining a work visa for foreign students who have graduated from the aforementioned vocational schools have been revised in guidelines and other documents as of February 2024, and the implementation has already begun. Let's take a closer look at how they have changed from the past, particularly in the areas of the residence statuses "Engineer/Humanities/International Services" and "Designated Activities (No. 46)."

Relaxation in Requirements

There has been a relaxation in the requirements for the "Engineer/Humanities/International Services" visa category, where judgments are made flexibly regarding the relevance to the major subject and are assessed comprehensively. However, the implementation varies depending on whether the applicant has graduated from a "certified vocational school specialized course."

In other words, if the applicant has graduated from a "certified vocational school specialized course," they will be judged flexibly similar to graduates from universities or graduate schools. This means that the previous requirements such as strict relevance between the major subject and job duties are no longer necessary. However, if the graduation is not from a "certified vocational school specialized course," although strict relevance between the major subject and job duties is not required as it was before the revision, judgments are made comprehensively based on the entire curriculum. Moreover, for those who have engaged in related duties for approximately three years, flexibility is applied when assessing the relevance to the intended job duties after considering their overall experience.

Designated Activities (No. 46)

On the other hand, for the "Designated Activities (No. 46)" visa category, previously limited to graduates of Japanese universities or graduate schools, the recent revision has added graduates of Japanese "certified vocational school specialized courses" and junior college graduates, among others. Additionally, unlike the "Engineer/Humanities/International Services" visa category, the condition now includes graduation from a "certified vocational school specialized course" along with obtaining a "kodo senmonshi" (Advanced Specialist). Obtaining a "kodo senmonshi" requires more than four years of study, so while there has been some relaxation, it raises questions about how many foreign students are aiming for a "kodo senmonshi" with over four years of work experience.

Even though there have been relaxations, if companies or individuals are concerned about the application process for prospective hires, please feel free to contact us.

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