There are 2 new visa types being introduced: Specified Skilled Worker Type 1 and Specified Skilled Worker Type 2. Of the two, Specified Skilled Worker (SSW) Type 1 is the more immediately accessible. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Specified Skilled Worker Type 1
Unlike other visas for foreigners in Japan, such as Specialist in Humanities or Instructor, which typically require a university degree or a decade or so of practical experience if you don’t have a degree, the manual nature of the work involved for this new visa means that the bar to entry is different. There are just certain requisites that will need to be met.
Firstly, you will need to have some Japanese ability. It is thought that Japanese Language Proficiency Test level N4 is the minimum standard, though this may be higher depending on which industry you enter. It stands to reason that a customer-facing role will require a higher command of the local language than factory work would.
Secondly, you will be required to have a degree of skill in the industry you have applied for. Though the government hasn’t been too specific on this so far, based on past cases, this means either a locally recognized certification in the area of work or at least a year or two of experience. If you are currently in Japan on the Technical Intern Training visa, then it may also be possible to upgrade to the Specified Skilled Worker Type 1 visa when your internship is complete, should you wish to remain in Japan. There are, however, some additional caveats.
Specified Skilled Worker Type 1 visa holders are only allowed to remain in the country for a maximum of 5 years, and they are not, in principle, allowed to bring their family with them. If you wish to stay in Japan for longer or to bring your family to live with you, then, in time, you will need to upgrade to a Specified Skilled Worker Type 2 visa. This can be done if you can prove that you have achieved a higher level of specialism in your area of work during your time in Japan. For example, if you attained additional certification or gained a promotion within your company.
Specified Skilled Worker Type 2
This second visa type is a step up from the Type 1 visa and recognizes those workers who are more highly qualified or better experienced in their field of work. If you qualify for a Specified Skilled Worker Type 2 visa, then there are some additional benefits to it.
Firstly, provided you continue working, obeying the law and paying your taxes, the visa can be renewed indefinitely; there is no limit on how long you can stay in Japan and like most other visa types, you could, in principle, apply for permanent residency after 10 years of continuous residence.
However, as this new status doesn’t exist yet, there is currently no data available to determine the likelihood of your application for permanent residency being approved.