For those who are aiming to become permanent residents of Japan (not through marriage), the 10-year wait is a long one. Some years ago, the Points-based Preferential Immigration Treatment for Highly Skilled Professionals cut that down to 5 years for professionals.
The rules were somewhat simple, look up a checklist of points and hope to hit 70 or more points. If you pass the screening, you will get a Highly Skilled Professional (i) visa. Hold on to it for 3 years, maintaining the minimum points, and level up to Highly Skilled Professional (ii). Part of the perks of being a level (ii) is that you get an indefinite stay visa. In principal, you also qualify for permanent residency after holding the visa for 5 years.
At the start of this year, news sources reported that a revision was to be enacted by the government. One discussion was on cutting down the number of years required to 3 years. A second was on having a faster track for those with 80 points or more, i.e. adding a new “upper” track. Apart from information snippets in the news reports, no official guidelines were provided.
The speculations can now be confirmed. The Ministry of Justice has released the official revised guidelines (Japanese) on 26 April 2017. The guidelines explicitly state the following in item 2(6) and footnote (1).
An applicant with 70 or more points qualifies, in principal, for permanent residency if he/she:
- is an existing holder of the 70-point Highly Skilled Professional visa for 3 years or more; OR
- has been living in Japan for 3 or more consecutive years, and is judged to have retrospectively met the 70-point requirement for the 3 years prior to the day of application.
For those with 80 or more points, item 2(7) and footnote (2) states that the applicant qualifies for permanent residency if he/she:
- is an existing holder of the 80-point Highly Skilled Professional visa for 1 year or more; OR
- has been living in Japan for 1 or more consecutive years, and is judged to have retrospectively met the 80-point requirement for the single year prior to the day of application.
However, it remains to be seen if new point categories will be added (as suggested by reports) since the official website providing the calculation spreadsheets has not been updated at the time of this article’s publication.