So... What are highly-skilled foreign professionals?
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
A special visa designed for "talented" foreign workers with specialized skills. Let's see what advantages it has.
[Updated March 2020]
Companies are taking in individuals considered by the government to be highly-skilled foreign professionals. The term "highly-skilled foreign national" has popped up a few times in past articles, and it's time we revisit that term and get into what it actually entails.
What are highly-skilled foreign professionals?
Introduced in 2012, the highly-skilled foreign professional visa (also known as the HSP visa among foreigners) many advantages and has been designed for talented foreign workers with advanced skills.
First introduced in According to the Ministry of Justice, Japan hopes these "highly skilled" individuals will be able to meet new demands to help spur on Japanese economic growth.
There are three categories that highly-skilled foreign professionals can fall under; advanced academic research activities, advanced specialized/technical activities, and advanced business management activities. Academic researchers, engineers, administrators, and others with specialized knowledge and abilities are put into one of those three categories.
Who qualifies as a highly-skilled foreign professional?
Highly-skilled foreign professionals are elected via a points system. Frankly speaking, I'm not so sure about scoring people like this with points...but currently points are given according to various attributes like academic background, professional career, annual income, age, university, etc. Once at least 70 points have been acquired, the Immigration Bureau will grant preferential treatment in hopes of enticing highly-skilled foreign professionals to come to Japan.
In other words, highly-skilled foreign professionals are individuals who have acquired a score of 70 or more points in a Japanese government-created point calculation table. These people are encouraged to come and live in Japan as part of a government strategy.
See here for the Ministry of Justice point calculation table (this is the latest one as of March 2020).
Preferential treatment for highly-skilled foreign professionals
Highly-skilled foreign professionals who've accumulated 70 or more points enjoy an array of preferential treatment within Japan.
1) They're able to engage in various activities.
Typically, foreign nationals who hold work visas are only able to work in the field specified by their visa. So, someone with a visa for engineering can only change jobs within the scope of engineering work. However, highly-skilled foreign nationals may partake in all sorts of different activities.
2) They're granted a 5 year visa from the get-go.
Highly-skilled foreign professionals are granted the longest period of stay legally permitted of 5 years from the very beginning.
3) Permanent residency is made easier to apply for and obtain.
In principle, it's required that one live in Japan for a continuous period of 10 years to be given permanent residency. However, highly-skilled foreign professionals get that time frame shortened down to 3 years, and those with 80 or more points get the requirement shortened down to just 1 year.
4) Work limitations for spouses are reduced.
The spouses of highly-skilled foreign professionals who do not meet academic background and work experience requirements may still engage in work that falls under "Instructor," "Engineer," or "Specialist in Humanities/International Services" status of residence.
5) Their parents may also stay.
Under certain conditions, the parents of highly-skilled foreign professionals or the parents of their spouse may be granted permission to stay in Japan.
6) Domestic workers may be brought over.
Highly-skilled foreign professionals, under certain conditions, may be accompanied by foreign domestic workers.
7) They get priority on entry and residence procedures.
Visa procedures at immigration bureaus are handled with high priority.
(Details on the above: Immigration Bureau of Japan)
◆Benefits of Highly-Skilled Foreign Professionals for Business
We've gone over what is means to be a highly-skilled foreign professional, so now I think the most important question for a company would be "what benefits are there for working with highly-skilled foreign professionals?"
Our company, Active Gaming Media Inc., is made up of 65% foreign nationals from 35 different countries, all of whom could classify as highly-skilled foreign professionals. Many benefits come into play simply by employing just a few highly-skilled foreign professionals when compared to only employing Japanese.
- Expanding a company's field of view
- Improving the language skills OF THE COMPANY
- Ability to gather information from overseas before your competitors
- Ability to expand overseas
There are benefits that may overlap depending on the company, but in the end there are no disadvantages to employing highly-skilled foreign professionals. Of course, upon employing foreign staff, they may face issues with living in a new environment and other such problems, but the same thing goes for employing Japanese staff. The hurdle may seem high, but the rewards can be great.
To read about the application process for the Highly Skilled Professional Visa we recommend you read, "Qualifying for the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional Visa Schedule (1) in Japan." If gives a step by step process of how to apply for the visa.