The “Highly Skilled Foreign Professional” visa (often referred to as the HSP or HSFP visa) was first introduced in May 2012.
This is a special visa with more advantages than the standard work visa, designed for talented foreign workers with advanced and specialized skills.
Note that this is a special visa which is still one variation of the work visa, hence it is not possible to apply for this visa without a specific job or job offer from a Japanese sponsoring organization.
Points are awarded according to the applicant’s educational and professional background, income and academic achievements based on a fixed point chart prepared by the Immigration Authorities, and if an applicant can prove that he/she scores 70 points or more, this special visa status is given.
Holders of the Highly Skilled Visa can receive the following preferential treatment:
Possibility of engaging in multiple activities that cover different visa categories (for example, this visa gives its holder the option to establish a company and operate a related business as the CEO/representative director, while maintaining the main role for which the HSFP visa has been granted) The length of the visa is 5 years Faster access to Permanent Resident visa
The length of the visa is 5 years
Faster access to Permanent Resident visa
Preferential (faster) processing of Immigration procedure (new visas, change of visa status, renewal etc.)
The HSFP visa holder’s spouse can also work full-time under certain conditions
Possibility of bringing parents to Japan under certain conditions
Possibility of hiring a domestic helper/nanny under certain conditions
The Highly Skilled Professional visa is comprised of the following 3 sub-categories based on activities (positions/roles), and for each sub-category, the points are allotted differently.
A special note that the salary requirement for those applying under (C) the business management sub-category is much higher than with the other 2 sub-categories – thus generally it is usually more difficult for applicants who are in the CEO/representative director position to fulfill the criteria when compared to skilled employees.
(A) Advanced academic research activities (pertaining to the activities permitted under the Researcher or Professor visa)
(B) Advanced specialized / technical activities (pertaining to the activities permitted under the Engineer, Specialist in Humanities or Intra-company transferee visa)
(C) Advanced business management activities (pertaining to the activities permitted under the Business Manager visa)
To give a general idea of the points allotted:
30 points for a Doctor’s degree, 20 points for a Master’s degree.
5-25 points depending on professional experience
10-50 points depending on the amount of income earned from the Japanese sponsoring organization
5-15 points depending on age (more points are allotted to applicants at a younger age)
10-15 points depending on Japanese language ability (points are allotted to those who have passed the designated language proficiency test)
For more details, please refer to the Point Calculation Table.
Points will only be awarded for the items that can be supported with sufficient documentation.
Therefore, for example, even if an applicant has many years’ worth of relevant work experience, points are only allotted for the years that are proved with employment verification letters etc. from the previous employer(s).
In addition to the documents supporting all of the scored points, it is also necessary to provide all of the other basic documents relating to the company/job that are required for a standard work visa application.
Therefore, the document load for this visa is higher than with standard work visa applications.
Also, unlike the standard work visa, the HSFP visa is strictly tied to the sponsoring organization – therefore, once the applicant leaves the job for which the HSFP visa was granted, he/she must change over to a different visa without delay (for example, changing over to another HSFP visa sponsored by a different company, or changing over to a standard work visa, etc.).
The Highly Skilled Visa system has undergone a number of changes, and the most recent change has taken effect on 26th April 2017.
Based on this new amendment, applicants who obtain the Highly Skilled Visa by scoring 70 points or 75 points in this Point Calculation Table will be able to apply for Permanent Residency after 3 years of working and living continuously in Japan.
Those who obtain the Highly Skilled Visa by scoring 80 points or more will be able to apply for Permanent Residency after 1 year of working and living continuously in Japan.
What is more, the criteria for the Permanent Residency has largely been relaxed, and it has now become possible for applicants to apply for the Permanent Resident visa directly (without even having to spend 3 years or 1 year (as the case may be, based on points scored) on the Highly Skilled Visa itself) if one is able to prove that he/she is:
(i) currently substantially fulfilling the 70 point criteria or 80 point criteria and (ii) has been doing so continuously and at all times during the past 3 year or 1 year term (again, as the case may be, based on points scored).
Please note however that when applying for Permanent Residency, there are other requirements that must also be fulfilled.
For example, the applicant needs to have a job in Japan that satisfies the point requirements at the time of application, needs to have had one that satisfied the point requirement 3 years or 1 year ago (as the case may be), needs to have paid taxes and official social security contributions during the required period based on the salary that is at least the same amount that is declared on the point chart, needs a guarantor to support the application, needs to have spent a significant amount of time physically in Japan during the years leading up to the application, needs to have abided by laws and Immigration related procedures, and must have at least a 3 year visa at the time of the application, etc.