This is a topic interesting to those Filipinos—maybe millions of them—who, among the many millions working abroad or hoping to become OFWs, have their eye on Japan.
Many Filipinos, up to at least a hundred thousand of them, are in Japan, employed as temporary technical and technological workers and as caregivers.
News that the Japanese government and lawmakers are now more willing than ever to loosen permanent residency and other rules governing overseas employers have just come out. This is because Japan needs more global talent.
A Japan Times article by Susuke Murai published yesterday says that “the the requirement time for highly skilled foreign professionals to apply for permanent residency may be shortened under a move being considered by the government to help lure more global talent to Japan.”
Since April 2015, a new evaluation system has categorized some foreign professionals, including entrepreneurs, technical experts and academic researchers, as “highly skilled” workers who are granted some privileges.
One such privilege is giving the foreign profession a “fast-tracked application for permanent residency.”
The system now allows highly skilled workers to apply for permanent residency after five years of living in Japan. Other foreign residents must live for ten years in the Land of the Rising Sun.
An official of Japan’s Justice Ministry said on Tuesday that the government is now thinking of shortening this temporary residence period “significantly” to make the Japanese system one of the world’s fastest in giving “green” cards” to top-ranking professionals. How much shorter than five years is still being studied.
But Nikkei financial daily reported Tuesday the time frame could be shortened to three years, or even only one year, for professionals with exceptional management or technical skills. The article says the new rules would be formally in place by March.
The Japan Times story says: “A Justice Ministry official said the government aims to boost economic growth by actively accepting more highly skilled foreign specialists.
“The existing points-based system evaluates foreigners based on criteria such as annual income, academic background and language skills.
“Those who receive more than 70 points can stay in Japan under a five-year ‘designated activities’ visa.
“For foreign residents in highly skilled professions, this can be extended to working visas for their spouses and the right to bring their parents and housekeepers to Japan.
“The five-year requirement for permanent residency for skilled professionals is comparably longer than other developed countries.
“For example, the United Kingdom requires at least five years of residency for foreign nationals to become permanent residents, though this shrinks to three years for certain entrepreneurs. South Korea also has a five-year requirement, but it falls to three years for experts with a college degree in cutting-edge technology, and one year for those with a doctoral degree.
“As of June, Japan has 2,688 foreign nationals recognized as highly skilled foreign workers, of which 65 percent are Chinese nationals. That constitutes a mere 0.12 percent of the 2.3 million foreign residents in Japan.
“Luring more foreign workers is seen as critical, with the graying society contributing to a shrinking workforce.
“In a separate move, the Lower House passed an amendment to the immigration law last month to allow foreign caregivers to enter Japan under a new visa status aimed at boosting workers in the notoriously low-paid profession.”