Japan: New Points-Based System for Skilled Workers
Posted on May 2, 2012
Foreign nationals who meet a points threshold will benefit from expedited application procedures, broader work authorization rights, expanded spousal work benefits, and a shorter path to permanent residence.
Japan will introduce a new points-based immigration program for skilled workers on May 7, 2012. The program – which is being implemented to attract greater numbers of highly skilled foreign workers – will offer expedited processing and other benefits to qualified applicants.
A sponsoring employer will be able to request that a foreign national be considered under the points system when the employer applies for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), one of the early stages of Japan’s work authorization process. Foreign nationals will earn points based on their work experience, professional licenses and other qualifications, and expected income in Japan.
Those earning sufficient points will be granted a COE that is tied to their sponsoring employer. They will receive expedited application processing, permission to operate their own business while working for their sponsoring employer, and the ability to be accompanied in Japan by their parents (in addition to a spouse and dependent children). Their spouses will receive work authorization, unlike dependents of regular work permit holders. They will also qualify for permanent residence after working and living in Japan for five years. The standard permanent residence requirement is ten years of prior residence.
Applicants who do not meet the threshold for the points system will have their application adjudicated under standard procedures.
What this Means for Foreign Nationals and Their Employers
Determining whether an individual foreign national would benefit from the new points system compared to the standard work authorization process can be quite complicated and will depend on the circumstances of the individual’s case. Employers and prospective foreign workers considering whether to take advantage of the system are advised to consult with their immigration counsel before proceeding.
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