Specified Skilled Worker Visa

Specified Skilled Worker Visa

Employment Eligibility: Specified Skilled Worker visa

The Specified Skilled Worker visa is a new work qualification newly established in April 2019 and covers 14 industries.

The designated industries are: ①Construction, ②Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery, ③Automobile Repair and Maintenance, ④Aviation, ⑤Accommodation, ⑥Care Workers, ⑦Building Cleaning Management, ⑧Agriculture, ⑨Fishery and Aquaculture, ⑩Manufacture of Food and Beverages, ⑪Food Service, ⑫Machine Parts and Tooling, ⑬Industrial Machinery, and ⑭Electric, Electronics and Information.

There are two types of the Specified Skilled Worker visa -- Specified Skilled Worker (i) and Specified Skilled Worker (ii) -- and each has various requirements such as support plans and obligations to notify.

1. Specified Skilled Worker(i)

This visa is a way for companies to hire foreign workers who can be put to work immediately in one of the above 14 categories. As a rule, no family members (spouses or children) are allowed. In addition to passing the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) exam (level N4 or higher), the foreign worker must also pass a field skill test.

There are three durations for period of stay: 4 months, 6 months, and 1 year.

2. Specified Skilled Worker(ii)

The Specified Skilled Worker(ii) visa is intended for those who have already maxed out the 5 years on the Specified Skilled Worker(i) visa and would like to advance to the next step, allowing companies among the various industries to secure skilled and proficient foreign workers.

As of April 2019, when this visa category was implemented, the only two applicable industries for the Specified Skilled Worker(ii) visa are ① Construction and ② Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery. Unlike Specified Skilled Worker(i), Specified Skilled Worker(ii) has no limitation on the total period of stay or the number of visa renewals. Family members (spouse and child) are also able to accompany the foreign worker.

There are three durations for period of stay: 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years.

Differences between the Specified Skilled Worker Visa and the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services Visa

  Specified skilled worker Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services
Specified Skilled Worker(i) Specified Skilled Worker(ii)
Academic Requirement No No Yes
Work Experience Not necessary Not necessary Not necessary
(Required if academic requirements are not met)
Japanese Proficiency Requirements Equivalent or better to the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N4 level No No
Period of Stay Up to 5 years in total No limit No limit
Accompaniment by Family Members Not allowed Allowed Allowed
Permanent Residence Application Not allowed Allowed Allowed
Target Industry ・Construction
・Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery
・Automobile Repair and Maintenance
・Care Workers
・Building Cleaning Management
・Fishery and Aquaculture
・Manufacture of Food and Beverages
・Food Service
・Machine Parts and Tooling
・Industrial Machinery
・Electric, Electronics and Information
・Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery
No relevance

Accepting Organization Requirements

  1. The foreign worker has signed an appropriate employment contract (equivalent or better salary/compensation as that of Japanese employees who do the same work)
  2. No violations of labor laws or regulations within the past 5 years
  3. Must have a support system for foreign employees (Establishing an implementation scheme for a "support plan" is described below)
  4. The support plan for foreign employees is appropriate

Accepting Organization Duties

  1. Ensure that employment contract is fulfilled (no nonpayment or unreasonable deductions; salary and compensation duly paid; etc.)
  2. Appropriate support for foreign employees
  3. Ensure that the various and obligatory notifications to the Immigration Bureau are reliably and punctually made.

※If an accepting organization fails to fulfill its duties, it may no longer be able to hire foreign employees and/or receive a written notice and improvement order from the Immigration Bureau.

About the Support Plan

Accepting organizations should create a plan ("support plan" hereafter) -- and provide support based on that plan -- to its foreign employees on the Specified Skilled Worker(i) visa ("skilled foreign workers" hereafter), allowing them to smoothly and steadily carry out their activities in Japan whether in their work life, daily life, or social life. Support plans are able to be delegated to "registered support organizations" as described below.

【Summary of Support Plan】 (records of past implementation required)

  1. Pre-departure orientation
    ※This orientation shall be conducted via in-person or videoconference interview, and go over working conditions, job duties, immigration procedures, and if social security will be collected from salary/compensation. Time required (target): roughly 3 hours. The foreign worker should be able to fully understand the above details and their contracts.
  2. Transportation upon arrival and departure
    ※Transportation from the airport at time of entry to either office or residence. Transportation to the airport and accompaniment until airport security at time of departing Japan.
  3. Support for necessary contract procedures such as securing housing and daily life
    ※Provide information on real estate brokers and rental properties (and become a joint guarantor if necessary) as well as support for necessary contracts such as opening a bank account and setting up phone, electric, gas, and water services.
  4. Conduct daily life orientation
    ※This orientation should go over how to use financial institutions, medical institutions, transportation options, traffic rules, manners, ways of obtaining disaster information, illegal activities in Japan, and other important information required for life in Japan. Time required (target): roughly 8 hours.
  5. Support for official procedures
    ※These procedures include assistance with document preparation such as compulsory reporting to the Immigration Bureau and local residential administration office, social security and tax-related procedures, etc.
  6. Consultation and response to grievances
    ※In addition to the above, the person in charge of supporting the foreign worker at the accepting company should also provide information on public organizations that can offer assistance and support for consultations and grievances, such as the Immigration Bureau, Labor Standards Inspection Office, local police stations, etc.
  7. Provide Japanese language-learning opportunities
    ※Provide guidance on Japanese language classes, information on Japanese learning materials, and procedural support as needed.
  8. Promote cultural exchange with Japanese people
    ※Introduce places where foreign workers can interact with local residents, assist in participation, and accompany if needed.
  9. Job change support
    ※In the case of contract cancellation by the accepting company, such as personnel reduction, the company should provide assistance with changing jobs.
  10. Conduct periodical interviews, report to government agencies
    ※ Once every 3 months, the person in charge of support should have a meeting with the foreign worker and their direct supervisors or representatives. Notification to the relevant government agencies is required should any violation of laws or regulations be found.

Registered Support Organizations

A registered support organization is an individual or group that can carry out all the implementation of a support plan for specific skilled foreigners, through prior registration with the Immigration Bureau.

By outsourcing support plan contracts to registered support organizations, this allows for implementing a support plan on behalf of an accepting organization that would have difficulty enforcing the plan on its own. Registered support organizations are obligated to submit various reports to the Immigration Bureau at regular intervals or as needed.

Notification Obligations of the Accepting Organization

【As Needed Notifications】 (within 14 days of event occurring)

  • When the employment contract is changed, terminated, or new employment contract is signed
  • When changes occur in the support plan
  • When an outsourced support plan is signed, changed, or ended with a registered support organization
  • When it becomes difficult for the accepting organization to accept specified skills workers
  • When there is awareness of impropriety concerning immigration or labor-related laws and regulations

【Notifications at Regular Intervals (Quarterly)】

  • The status of acceptance of specified skills workers (total acceptance numbers, personal information of specified skills workers, number of days of activities, locations, job duties, etc.)
  • Report detailing the state of implementation of support plan (consultation contents, results of response, etc.)
  • The status of activities of specified skills workers (payment of salary/compensation, turnover numbers, number of missing workers, etc.)

Notification Obligations of the Registered Support Organization

【As Needed Notifications】 (within 14 days of event occurring)

  • When there are changes in the information on file
  • Abolition of support services

【Notifications at Regular Intervals (Quarterly)】

  • Report detailing the implementation status of support services (personal information for specified skills workers, name of accepting organization, contents of consultations with specified skills workers, status of company response, etc.)

Sectoral Councils

Both the accepting organization and the registered support organization need to be members of sectoral councils established by the responsible ministry for their industry. The council consists of responsible government ministries, accepting organizations, industry organizations, relevant ministries, and experts.

The council takes on roles such as disseminating the purpose of the Specified Skills visa system and good practices, enlightenment of legal compliance, information analysis on changes in employment structure and economic situations, situation analysis by region, and sharing countermeasures and issues.