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What is a "Specified Skilled Worker" Residency Status?

In December 2018, an extraordinary session of the Diet passed and enacted “the Act on Amending the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and the Ministry of Justice Establishment Law”. The main purpose of this act was to establish “Specified Skilled Worker” as a new residency status. It will be possible for industries that are experiencing extreme labor shortages to accept foreign human resources as specified skilled workers as of April 1, 2019.

Under the program relating to the Specified Skilled Worker residency status, businesses, including small and medium scale businesses, in industries that are having difficulty in recruiting human resources despite the efforts made to raise productivity and recruit domestic human resources, will be permitted to hire the foreign nationals who possess certain specialized knowledge or skills and will be immediately able to work in order to respond to extreme labor shortages.

Overview of the Program

1Fields in which specified skilled foreign workers can be accepted

Fields in which specified skilled foreign workers can be accepted are industrial fields (the specified industrial fields) that need to recruit the foreign nationals to make up for labor shortages despite the efforts made to raise productivity and to recruit domestic human resources.

The specific specified industrial fields, which are designated in “the Notice on Basic Policy concerning Operation of the Program Relating to the Specified Skilled Worker Residency Status” and “the Policy on Operation of the Program Relating to the Specified Skilled Worker Residency Status” (both adopted by the Cabinet meeting on December 25, 2018), are as follows:

The Specified Industrial Fields (14 Fields)

  • (1) Nursing care
  • (2) Building cleaning
  • (3) Material Processing industry
  • (4) Industrial machinery manufacturing industry
  • (5) Electric and electronic information related industry
  • (6) Construction
  • (7) Shipbuilding and ship-related industry
  • (8) Automobile maintenance
  • (9) Aviation
  • (10) Lodging
  • (11) Agriculture
  • (12) Fisheries
  • (13) Food and beverages manufacturing industry
  • (14) Food service industry
  • *Specified Skilled Worker (i) can be accepted in all 14 industries. Specified Skilled Worker (ii) can be accepted only in the two underlined industries (Construction, and Shipbuilding and ship-related industry).

2Residency Statuses

Specified Skilled Worker (i)

Residency status for the foreign nationals engaged in work requiring skills that need considerable degree of knowledge or experience belonging to the specified industrial field.

Specified Skilled Worker (ii)

Residency status for the foreign nationals engaged in work requiring experts skills belonging to the specified industrial field.

  Key Points of the Specified Skilled Worker (i) Key Points of the Specified Skilled Worker (ii)
Period of stay Up to five years in total with renewals every one year, six months, or four months Renewals every three years, one year, or six months
Skill level Confirmation by an exam, etc( those who have completed technical intern training (ii) are exempt from the exam) Confirmation by an exam
Level of Japanese language proficiency Japanese language skills necessary for day-to-day activities and work, confirmed by an exam, etc.(those who have completed technical intern training (ii) are exempt from the exam) Confirmation by an exam is not required
Accompaniment by of family members In principle, not permitted Permitted if conditions are satisfied (spouse and children)
Support by accepting organization
or registered support organization
Eligible Not eligible

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3Accepting Organizations and Registered Support Organizations

Regarding Accepting organizations (Organization of affiliation of the specified skilled worker),

Criterias for accepting organizations to accept foreign workers
  • (1) The employment contract (specified skilled employment agreement) is being properly executed with the foreign nationals (e.g., remuneration must be equivalent to or greater than the one a Japanese worker would receive).
  • (2) The accepting organization is appropriate (e.g., no violations of immigration or labor-related laws and regulations within the past 5 years).
  • (3) There is a system to support foreign nationals (e.g. support is provided in a language that the foreign nationals are able to understand).
  • (4) The support plan which is prepared for foreign nationals is appropriate(in respect of the support for specified skilled workers (i)
Duties of Accepting Organizations (Organization of affiliation of the specified skilled worker)
  • (1) Employment contracts with foreign nationals are ensured to be fulfilled (e.g., remuneration is properly paid)
  • (2) Proper support is provided to foreign nationals
    → Support may be outsourced to a registered support organization. If all the detailed support designated later are outsourced to a Registered Support Organization, the above criteria of (3) is deemed to be satisfied.
  • (3) Various notifications are filed with the Agency for Immigration and Residency.
  • Note:If (1) to (3) are not satisfied, it will not be possible to accept foreign workers and the accepting organization may be subject to directions or improvement orders from the Agency for Immigration and Residency.

Regarding Registered Support Organizations,

What is a Registered Support Organization?
  • Anyone that provides all the detailed supports designated later, according to the support plan for specified skilled workers (i), pursuant to a support outsourcing agreement with an accepting organization, can receive the registration as Registered Support Organization from the Commissioner of the Agency for Immigration and Residency.
  • Organizations that undergo registration are registered in the registered support organization register and are listed on the Agency for Immigration and Residency website.
  • The registration period is five years, and more if renewed.
  • A Registered Support Organization must file various notifications with the Commissioner of the Agency for Immigration and Residency periodically and at any necessary time.
Criterias for Registration
  • (1) The support organization is appropriate (e.g., no violations of immigration related laws and regulations within the past five years)
  • (2) A system that provides support for the foreign nationals is placed sufficiently. (e.g., support is provided in a language understood by the foreign nationals)
Registration Requirements
  • a support manager and at least one support staff member are appointed
  • Any one of the following is satisfied:
    • The individual or organization that seeks to become a registered support organization has experience accepting mid to long-term foreign residents within the past two years.
    • The individual or organization that seeks to become a registered support organization has experience providing various types of consultations relating to foreign nationals as a business for the purpose of receiving compensation within the past two years.
    • The selected support staff member(s) have at least two years’ experience working in the provision of consultation on day-to-day activities to mid to long-term residence within the past five years.
    • Other than the above, the individual or organization that seeks to become a registered support organization is permitted to be the one as capable of appropriately providing support at a level equivalent to the above.
  • No specified skilled foreign workers or technical intern trainees have absconded due to a cause attributable to the registered support organization within the past one year
  • The foreign nationals are not caused to bear the costs of support directly or indirectly
  • The registered support organization has not been subject to penalty for violation of criminal laws and regulations (imposition of penalties pursuant to laws and regulations relating to immigration or labor within the past five years)
  • The registered support organization has not engaged in any markedly inappropriate or improper conduct relating to immigration or labor laws within the past five years
Duties of Registered Support Organizations
  • (1) Proper implementation of support to the foreign nationals
  • (2) Filing of various notifications to the Agency for Immigration and Residency
  • Note:If (1) and (2) are not performed, registration may be canceled.

4Support for Specified Skilled Workers (i)

The details of support to be provided to Specified Skilled Workers (i) by accepting organizations (Organization of affiliation of the specified skilled worker) or registered support organizations designated in “the Notice of Policy on Operation of the Program Relating to the Specified Skilled Worker Residency Status” are as follows:

Support For Specified Skilled Workers (i)

  • (1) Provide guidance for the foreign nationals regarding day-to-day life before entering Japan (in a language understood by the foreign nationals; this also applies to (4), (6), and (7))
  • (2) Meet the foreign nationals at the airport at the time of entry to Japan and accompany foreign nationals to the airport at the time of departure from Japan
  • (3) Serve as foreign nationals’ guarantor and provide other support for the foreign nationals to secure accommodation
  • (4) Implement orientations on day-to-day life during the foreign national’ residence (including support to open saving accounts and relating to agreements regarding the use of mobile phones)
  • (5) Support Japanese language proficiency acquisition for day-to-day life
  • (6) Respond to consultations and complaints from the foreign nationals
  • (7) Provide information in support relating to various administrative procedures that the foreign nationals must perform
  • (8) Provide support for the promotion of exchanges between foreign nationals and Japanese nationals
  • (9) In cases where employment agreement for specified skilled workers has been cancelled due to causes not attributable to their fault, provide support enabling them to work in the Specified Skilled Worker (i) residency status pursuant to an employment contract for specified skilled worker with a different public or private organization in Japan
Accepting Organizations and Registered Support Organizations for the Specified Skilled Worker (i) Residency Status

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