Japan relaxes immigration policy for foreign workers
Posted on November 21, 2019
In April 2019, facing acute labour shortage, Japan announced certain changes in its immigration policy.
Japan’s revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act came into force on April 1, 2019.
As per the revised Act, about 345,000 blue-collared foreign workers are to be inducted into the workforce in Japan over a 5- years’ period.
A declining birth rate and an aging population are believed to have led to the acute labour shortage in Japan.
Another important change introduced by the amended Act was that online visa renewals for work-sponsored visas were to be accepted by the Ministry of Justice.
A new Immigration Services Agency was also launched by Japan.
Which work permits will be available for foreign workers?
From April 1, 2019, Japan has begun issuing “Specified Skill Visas” (tokutei ginou, 特定技能).
There are 2 work permits specifically designed for foreign workers –
Specified Skilled Worker No. 1
Duration – 5 years
Who can apply? – Foreigners that have the requisite industry-specific skills as well as proficiency in the Japanese language.
With the Specified Skilled Worker No. 1, a foreign worker can work in any of the 14 sectors of middle and lower level of skilled jobs.
Japan’s new immigration system plans on inviting foreign workers into 14 sectors of –
- Building cleaning services
- Car Maintenance
- Electrical and electronic information
- Food and beverage manufacturing
- Industrial machinery manufacturing
- Nursing care
- Restaurant business
- Shipbuilding and marine equipment
As per the new immigration system, foreign workers 18 years and above can apply for 2 new residence statuses.
- Will have to pass technical exams
- Will have to pass Japanese language test
- Must have good work experience in the workstream that they plan on working in
- To be initially granted for 5 years
- Family members not included
- Can be renewed for a limited number of times
- Quota announced – 47,550 visas for the first year
Specified Skilled Worker No. 2
Only the workers already staying in Japan on Specified Skilled Worker No. 1 can apply for Specified Skilled Worker No. 2.
Applications for Specified Skilled Worker No. 2 will be accepted from 2021.
To be eligible, the worker must have acquired a higher level of specialization in the field.
- As of now, can only apply for Shipbuilding and Construction.
- Can bring family members along.
- Unlimited visa renewals.
- Can apply for Japan permanent residency later, that is, after 10 years of continuous stay in Japan.
- No language proficiency test.
- Skills are tested in an exam.
- Quota announced – none
The Justice Ministry of Japan has also passed an ordinance to the effect that foreign workers be paid wages either equivalent to or higher than those of Japanese nationals.
For the successful integration of foreign workers into the culture and society of Japan, various support measures – Comprehensive Measures for the Acceptance and inclusion of Foreign Human Resources – have been adopted on December 25, 2018
According to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, efforts were needed to achieve an “inclusive society” in which both the Japanese nationals as well as the foreign nationals could enjoy a mutual respect to such an extent that “foreign nationals feel that they want to live in Japan”, especially outside the major cities in Japan.
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