Highly-Skilled Professional Visa

Highly-Skilled Professional Visa

Employment Eligibility: Highly-Skilled Professional visa

The Highly-Skilled Professional visa is a working visa that provides preferential immigration treatment to foreign professionals with a high level of expertise in their field. The activities of the highly-skilled foreign professionals are classified into three categories: (1) advanced academic research activities, (2) advanced specialized/technical activities, and (3) advanced business management activities. Points are given for different items such as "academic background", "professional career", and "annual salary", and when the sum of points reaches a certain amount (at least 70), the applicant receives preferential treatment.

The Highly-Skilled Professional visa is divided into two categories: (i) (a, b, c), and (ii). Applicants need to submit documents and materials to prove each applicable item in the point system (e.g. certificates of degree/s, proof of work history, certificates for qualifications, and proof of income documentation). If the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) status is granted, the period of stay will be a fixed 5 years.

After three years on the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) visa, it will then become possible to switch to the Highly-Skilled Professional(ii) status. The Highly-Skilled Professional(ii) visa allows for the foreign professional to stay in Japan indefinitely as long as the scope of work falls under the category of advanced professions.

Point Calculation Table (download URL)

Activities Descriptions

(1) Advanced academic research activities -- Highly-Skilled Professional(i)(a)
Activities of engaging in research, research guidance or education based on a contract entered into with a public or private organization in Japan.
Examples: University researchers, faculty members, researchers at government agencies or private enterprises

(2) Advanced specialized/technical activities -- Highly-Skilled Professional(i)(b)
Activities of engaging in work requiring specialized knowledge or skills in the field of natural sciences or humanities based on a contract entered into with a public or private organization in Japan.
Examples: Many professional careers such as system engineers, programmers, or management consultants in general companies

(3) Advanced business management activities -- Highly-Skilled Professional(i)(c)
Activities of engaging in the operation or management of a public or private organization in Japan.
Examples: Company owners, managerial workers

Preferential Treatment

Highly-Skilled Professional(i) visa:

  1. Permission to do multiple activities
    Example: In addition to university research activities (activities corresponding to the "Professor" visa), the foreign professional will also be able to do business activities at a research-related company (activities corresponding to the "Business Manager" visa).
  2. Fixed period of stay of 5 years
  3. Relaxation of residence history requirements for the Permanent Resident visa
    (May qualify for a Permanent Resident visa application in 1 or 3 years, depending on accumulated points.)
  4. Spouse employment
    (The spouse of the foreign professional can obtain employment qualifications without meeting requirements such as academic history and work history.)
  5. Parents allowed to come to Japan under certain conditions
    (If certain conditions such as annual salary are met, then the parents of the foreign professional or spouse are able to come to Japan to help raise children under the age of 7.)
  6. Domestic workers allowed to come to Japan under certain conditions
    (If certain conditions such as annual salary are met, then the foreign professional can hire domestic workers.)
  7. Preferential processing of entry and residence procedures
    (Shorter examination period, processed before other applications)

Highly-Skilled Professional(ii) visa:

  1. In addition to the activities allowed by the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) visa, almost all activities permitted by the various work visas are allowed
  2. The period of stay will be "indefinite"
  3. Highly-Skilled Professional(i) preferential treatment items 3-6 above also granted

Notes on the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) Visa

If you change jobs after receiving the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) visa, you will need to either reapply for the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) visa or apply for a Change of Status of Residence, such as changing to the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa.

On the other hand, changing jobs on the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa only requires a notification ("Notification Concerning a Contracting Organization") to the Immigration Bureau, as long as the job activities are permitted under the same visa.

Therefore, even though the Highly-Skilled Professional(i) visa has a "5-year fixed term" period of stay, please keep in mind that this does not mean that applications to the Immigration Bureau are only required every 5 years.