I want to apply for a Highly Skilled Foreign Professional (HPS/HSFP) visa in Japan

By 管理者 on September 1, 2017 — 18 mins read

Last updated : 27/Aug/2017

The Points-Based Preferential Immigration Treatment for Highly Skilled Professionals (HSP) began on 7 May 2012. A revision came into effect from 24 December 2013 making it easier for applicants. Then on 1 April 2015, HSP became a type of visa. The latest revision to the HSP came into effect on 26 April 2017. This section explains about the HSP visa.

The HSP visa system uses a point system to give preference to people whose skills are considered as beneficial to Japan. There are three areas within this system:

  1. advanced academic research activities ;
  2. advanced specialized/technological activities ;
  3. advanced business management activities.

For each area, the point system includes categories of academic achievement, work experience, annual income and other factors. These are used to calculate the total points for the applicant.

When the HSP system began, if the applicant’s total points reached 70, and if they were approved as an HSP, then the Status of Residence (visa type) was issued as “Designated Activity“.

From 1 April 2015, HSP became an independent visa type. This visa type was established by further revising the system to allow highly skilled foreign professionals to live and work in Japan more easily than before. It is a part of a Japanese government strategy of to encourage highly skilled foreign professionals to contribute to Japan’s economic growth and in other ways that benefit the nation.

Changes made in April 2017 increased some point categories, especially in the bonus points. Also, the period required to apply for a Permanent visa has been shortened for an HSP approved person. Now, you can apply for a Permanent Residency in 1 year if you reached 80 points. If you reached 70 points but not 80 points, you can apply for a Permanent Residency in 3 years.

For the major changes to the HSP system from the most recent amendment (in the Japanese language) see
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_3/pdf/h29_04a_minaoshi.pdf

For Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals (HSP), there is a HSP No. 1 visa and a HSP No.2 visa. If you are assessed as a HSP, a HSP No.1 visa is granted. Then when you hold the HSP No.1, for 3 years, a HSP No.2 visa can be granted. If you hold the HSP No. 2 visa, you can continue your work in Japan indefinitely if you stay with the same employer that the assessment was based upon. HSP No.2 is the highest status of work visa in Japan.

As mentioned earlier, until the end of March 2015, Designated Activity, Status of Residence, was issued to those who were assessed as HSP reaching 70 points and being approved as an HSP. If you have held the Designated Activity Status by having been assessed as an HSP, you are now recognised as an HSP No.1. If you hold this equivalent status to HSP No.1 for 3 years, you can apply to change your Residential Status to HSP No.2.

Explanation of Preferential Treatment for HSP

The following preferential conditions apply if you are assessed as HSP No.1 by reaching the minimum of 70 points through the HSP point assessment system.

  1. Duration of stay is granted for 5 years.
  2. You can engage in multiple types of activities.
  3. Your spouse can work.
  4. You can invite your parents, if your annual income reaches a certain amount and your circumstances meet certain other requirements.
  5. You can apply for a Permanent Residential visa after 3 years (1 year if your points are assessed as 80 or more).
  6. You can bring your household worker, from your own country, if your annual income reaches a certain amount and your circumstances meet certain other requirements.
  7. Immigration procedures, such as re-entry and others, are prioritised for HSP visa holders compared with other applications.

How to Apply for HSP No.1

Points can be gained for given categories. Basic points categories are academic background, work history, annual income, and age (age is excluded for those engaged in business and management). This system also accommodates bonus point categories. These vary depending on which area you are engaged in. If the total points reach 70, the Japanese Ministry for Justice will approve you as an HSP and you will be issued with a 5-year visa.

Your points are assessed after your application is submitted, so that you must provide copies of certificates that validate the points you are claiming. Without validating documents, the claim for the relevant points would not be gained. In the case where awards and academic papers are used to gain points, it is necessary to explain the relevance of the awards and papers mentioned to help the government assessor to understand your claim. It is necessary to have the explanations in Japanese.

  1. For your academic background, provide copies of academic certificates.
  2. For your work history, you need to provide documents such as a work certificate and leave of work certificate.
  3. For your age, the verification is provided by your passport.
  4. For your annual income, if you are already earning income in Japan, you should provide the certificates of your tax payment and taxation certificates issued by your Japanese municipality office. Your assessable annual income is based on the Japanese Income Tax Act and may differ from your total annual salary. You can include any payments received from overseas companies.
  5. For your bonus points, you will need proof and explanations as mentioned above.
  6. You will also need to provide a copy of your Certificate of Residence, “juminhyo” in Japan.

After filling in the application form issued by the Japanese Ministry of Justice and preparing the set of certificates and explanations for the claims in your application, you make application yourself at the Immigration Bureau.

When the assessment is completed, the Immigration Bureau will inform you, in writing, of its decisions. The visa issued will be an HSP No.1 (a), (b), or (c) visa, and you will receive a Resident Card that shows your status as an HSP No.1.

Points Explained for Each Area of Activity

For an explanation of the point system is in the Japanese language in an Excel type format, see http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_3/evaluate/index.html.

A. Advanced academic research activities

Points are given for foreign nationals who are likely to make or have already contributed to Japan, in their academic research.

Academic background

For academic background: 30 points are given for a PhD (excluding Doctor’s degrees for specialized jobs), 20 points for a Master’s Degree (including Doctor’s degree for specialized jobs), or 10 points for a Bachelor degree or an equivalent.
An additional 5 points may be given for having academic degrees (PhD, Masters, academic degree for specific jobs) in multiple areas.

Work history

For work (research or educational) history: 15 points are given for 7 years or more of active engagement; 10 points for 5 years or more; 5 points for 3 years or more. No points are given for less than 3 years active engagement.

Annual income

There is no minimum income required in this area since the amendment in December 2012.

For annual income from your employer in Japan: the maximum of 40 points are given to all age groups when annual income is at least 10,000,000 yen per annum. The lowest limit of annual income for which the points are given varies according to the age group you are in. Basically, 5 points are added for each additional 1,000,000 yen.

If you are 29 years old or younger, points begin at 10 points for earning 4,000,000 yen per annum:

 

pointsearning
10 points4,000,000 – 4,999,999 yen
15 points5,000,000 – 5,999,999 yen
20 points6,000,000 – 6,999,999 yen
25 points7,000,000 – 7,999,999 yen
30 points8,000,000 – 8,999,999 yen
35 points9,000,000 – 9,999,999 yen
40 points10,000,000 or more

 

  • If you are from 30 to 34 years old, points begin at 15 points for earning 5,000,000 yen.
  • If you are from 35 to 39 years old, the points begin at 20 points for earning 6,000,000 yen.
  • If you are 40 years old or older, the points begin at 30 points for earning 8,000,000 yen.

If you are working in Japan for an overseas employer, you can include payments from overseas. The annual income can include rewards and bonuses.

Age

For age: 15 points are given for 29 years old or younger, 10 points for 30 – 34 years old, or 5 points for 35 – 39 years old.

Bonus points for academic research

There are 10 bonus categories that apply to advanced academic research activities area. There are co-exclusions such as for Japanese fluency (see Bonus 9 for an example).

For further explanation on additional bonus points with the 2017 amendment, see the section below, “New Bonus Points for HSP 1“.

Bonus 1: up to 25 points are given for the following research achievements:

    • 20 points for one or more inventions resulting in a patent;
    • 20 points for engaging in 3 or more research projects that obtained grants from public organizations;
    • 20 points for 3 or more academic papers where the applicant is the leading author (as shown in academic databases);
    • 20 points for achievements equivalent to above, such as prestigious awards as determined by the Minister of Justice.

Note: It is necessary to explain in Japanese the relevance of the awards and the academic papers. If you have achieved more than one in the list, the maximum points for this section is set at 25 points.

Bonus 2: does not apply to this area.

Bonus 3: does not apply to this area.

Bonus 4: 10 points are given if you are employed by an organization that receives support from the Japanese government to promote its innovation. An additional 10 points are given if your employer in Japan is a small or medium sized enterprise.

Bonus 5: 5 points are given if you work for a small or medium sized enterprise whose experiment and research expenses are more than 3% of the total revenue.

Bonus 6: 5 points are given for an overseas job qualification relevant to your work in Japan.

Bonus 7: 10 points are given for a degree from a higher educational institute in Japan.

Bonus 8: 15 points are given for Japanese proficiency proven by one of the following:

  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test 1st grade or equivalent (such as 480 or higher grade in BJT Business Japanese Language Proficiency Test);
  • A degree from a university overseas, with a major in Japanese language.

Bonus 9: 10 points are given (excluding those who qualify for Bonus 7 or 8) for Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2nd grade or equivalent (such as minimum of 400 points in BJT Business Japanese Language Proficiency Test).

Bonus 10: 10 points for people engaged in a leading project in a growing field as specified by the Japanese ministries.

Bonus 11: 10 points are given for a degree (includes postgraduate degree) from universities that are decided by and published by Minister of Justice. People who gained points for Bonus 7 are excluded.

Bonus 12: 5 points are given for completing a course published by the Minister of Justice.

Bonus 13: does not apply to this area.

B. Advanced specialized/technological activities

This area applies to those who are likely to contribute to the growth of Japan by their expert skills. You may be an IT professional or an engineer who is engaged in the development of new materials. Under the rules for this area, you must be earning a minimum of 3 million yen per annum.

Academic background

For academic background, 30 points are given for a PhD (excluding Doctor’s degrees for specialized jobs), or 20 points for a Master’s Degree (including Doctor’s degree for specialized jobs), or 10 points for a Bachelor’s Degree or an equivalent qualification. An additional 5 points may be given for having academic degrees (PhD, Masters, academic degree for specific jobs) in multiple areas.

Work history

For work history, 20 points are given for 10 years or more of active engagement, or 15 points for 7 years or more, or 10 points for 5 years or more, or 5 points for 3 years or more. No points are given for less than 3 years.

Annual income

As mentioned before, for annual income, you must be earning a minimum of 3,000,000 yen to be assessed. For annual income from your employer in Japan, a maximum of 40 points are given to all age groups when the annual income is at least 10,000,000 yen per annum. The lowest limit of the annual income for which the points are given varies according to the age group you are in. Basically, 5 points are added for each additional 1,000,000 yen.

    • If you are 29 years old or younger, points begin at 10 points for earning 4,000,000 yen per annum:
pointsearning
10 points4,000,000 – 4,999,999 yen
15 points5,000,000 – 5,999,999 yen
20 points6,000,000 – 6,999,999 yen
25 points7,000,000 – 7,999,999 yen
30 points8,000,000 – 8,999,999 yen
35 points9,000,000 – 9,999,999 yen
40 points10,000,000 or more
  • If you are from 30 to 34 years old, points begin at 15 points for earning 5,000,000 yen.
  • If you are from 35 to 39 years old, the points begin at 20 points for earning 6,000,000 yen.
  • If you are 40 years old or older, the points begin at 30 points for earning 8,000,000 yen.

If you are working in Japan for an overseas employer, you can include payments from overseas. The annual income can include rewards and bonuses.

Age

For age: 15 points are given for 29 years old or younger, 10 points for 30 – 34 years old, or 5 points for 35 – 39 years old.

Bonus points for high specialization and technology

There are 11 bonus categories that apply to advanced specialized/technological activities area. There are co-exclusions such as for Japanese fluency (see Bonus 9 for an example).
For further explanation on additional bonus points with the 2017 amendment, see the section below, “New Bonus Points for HSP 1“.

Bonus 1: up to 15 points are given for the following research achievements:

      • 15 points for one or more inventions resulting in a patent;
      • 15 points for engaging in 3 or more research that obtained grants from public organizations;
      • 15 points for 3 or more academic papers where the applicant is the leading author (as shown in academic databases);
      • 15 points for achievements equivalent to above, such as prestigious awards as determined by The Minister of Justice.

    Note that it is necessary to

explain in Japanese

    the relevance of the awards and the academic papers.

Bonus 2: does not apply to this area.

Bonus 3: Up to 10 points are given for Japanese national qualification related to your job: 5 points for one qualification.

Bonus 4: 10 points are given if you are employed by an organization that receives support from the Japanese government to promote its innovation. An additional 10 points are given if your employer in Japan is a small or medium sized enterprise.

Bonus 5: 5 points are given if you work for a small or medium sized enterprise whose research and experiment expenses are more than 3% of the total revenue.

Bonus 6: 5 points are given for overseas qualification for your job.

Bonus 7: 10 points are given for a degree in higher educational institute in Japan.

Bonus 8: 15 points are given for Japanese proficiency proven by one of the following:

  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test 1st grade or equivalent (such as 480 or higher grade in BJT Business Japanese Language Proficiency Test);
  • A graduation from a university overseas majoring in Japanese language.

Bonus 9: 10 points are given (excluding those who qualify for Bonus 7 or 8) for Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2nd grade or equivalent (such as minimum of 400 in BJT Business Japanese Language Proficiency Test).

Bonus 10: 10 points for people engaged in a leading project in a growing field as specified by the Japanese ministries.

Bonus 11: 10 points are given for a degree (includes postgraduate degree) from universities that are decided by and published by Minister of Justice. People who gained points for Bonus 7 are excluded.

Bonus 12: 5 points are given for completing a course published by the Minister of Justice.

Bonus 13: does not apply to this area.

C. Advanced business management activities

If you engage, or are going to engage, in business management in Japan, the point system in this area is designed to let high tax payers have better chances to be assessed as HSP No.1. Under the rules for this area, you must be earning a minimum of 3 million yen per annum to be assessed. If you run a business that shows deficit in its annual balance sheet, you are unlikely to be assessed as HSP No.1 in this category.

Academic background

For academic background, 20 points are given for a Doctor’s or Master’s Degree, or 10 points for a Bachelor’s Degree or an equivalent qualification. If you have professional degree relating to business management (Master of Business Administration (MAB)/Management of Technology(MOT)), then an additional 5 points are given. An additional 5 points may be given for having academic degrees (PhD, Masters, academic degree for specific jobs) in multiple areas.

Work history

For work history, 25 points are given for 10 years or more of active engagement, 20 points for 7 years or more, 15 points for 5 years or more, or 10 points for 3 years or more. No points are given for less than 3 years.

Age

There are no points regarding your age.

Annual income

As mentioned before, for annual income, you must be earning a minimum of 3,000,000 yen. Maximum points for your annual income is 50 points. The points assessment for income is not affected by the applicant’s age.

  • 50 points if your annual income is at least 30,000,000 yen per annum;
  • 40 points if your annual income is at least 25,000,000 yen per annum;
  • 30 points if your annual income is at least 20,000,000 yen per annum;
  • 20 points if your annual income is at least 15,000,000 yen per annum;
  • 10 points if your annual income is at least 10,000,000 yen per annum.

If you are working in Japan for an overseas employer, you can include payments from overseas. The annual income can include rewards and bonuses.

Bonus points for business management

There are bonus points in the business and management area as well. In this area, your application must explain using a variety of documents about your business and make it clear what type of business you manage and what the business does. This information must be explained in the Japanese language. Your HSP application is more likely to be accepted if you can demonstrate the stability and continuity of the business you manage.

For further explanation on additional bonus points with the 2017 amendment that may affect this area, see the section below, “New Bonus Points for HSP 1”.

There are 11 bonus categories that apply to advanced business management activities area. There are co-exclusions such as for Japanese fluency (see Bonus 9 for an example).

Bonus 1: does not apply for this area

Bonus 2: 10 points are given for being a representative director or representative executive officer, or 5 points for being an executive or a director.

Bonus 3: does not apply for this area.

Bonus 4: 10 points are given if you are employed by an organization that receives support from the Japanese government to promote its innovation. An additional 10 points are given if your employer in Japan is a small or medium sized enterprise.

Bonus 5: 5 points are given if you work for a small or medium sized enterprise whose research and experiment expenses are more than 3% of the total revenue.

Bonus 6: 5 points are given for an overseas job qualification relevant to your work in Japan.

Bonus 7: 10 points are given for a degree from a higher educational institute in Japan.

Bonus 8: 15 points are given for Japanese proficiency proven by one of the following:

  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test 1st grade or equivalent (such as 480 or higher grade in BJT Business Japanese Language Proficiency Test);
  • A graduation from a university overseas majoring in Japanese language.

Bonus 9: 10 points are given (excluding those who qualify for Bonus 7 or 8) for Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2nd grade or equivalent (such as minimum of 400 points in BJT Business Japanese Language Proficiency Test).

Bonus 10: 10 points for people engaged in a leading project in a growing field as specified by the Japanese ministries.

Bonus 11: 10 points are given for a degree (includes postgraduate degree) from universities that are decided by and published by Minister of Justice. People who gained points for Bonus 7 are excluded.

Bonus 12: 5 points are given for completing a course published by the Minister of Justice.

Bonus 13: 5 points are given for investing 100 million yen or more.

New Bonus Points for HSP No.1

This point system for HSP was reviewed, amended, and implemented on 26 April 2017. This section provides additional information on the major new point categories for the HSP No.1 assessment.

Bonus 10: 10 points for people engaged in a leading project in a growing field as specified by the Japanese ministries. Please check the links in the Japanese language pages of this site for more detail.

Bonus 11: 10 points are given for a degree (including postgraduate degree) from universities that are listed by the Minister of Justice. The ministerial decision is based on the following:

  1. University ranking, among the top 300 ranked universities, as identified by two of the following three criteria:
  2. The universities that receive subsidies through Super Global University Creation and Support Project by the Ministry of Education and Science
  3. The universities that are specified as partner universities through Innovative Asia project run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The current listing of universities is on:
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_3/pdf/h29_06_daigaku-ranking02.pdf.

Bonus 12: 5 points for people that completed an educational course that uses Official development assistance (ODA).
http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/ic/ap_m/page22_002808.html

End Note

To have a smooth assessment of your application using this point system, it is important to supply explanatory documents in Japanese with your application. After submitting your application, you may be asked to submit additional documents in Japanese. It is important that your document make it very clear that you have the benchmark of 70 points or more under this system. You must provide verification of the points you are claiming and explain clearly in the Japanese language how your documents prove your case.

First, you must assess yourself, then decide whether to apply. You may either apply yourself or else use a proxy. When you apply yourself, you may find that the preparation can be overwhelming. Also, it is compulsory to attend an interview at a specified day and time requested by the Immigration Bureau and you may find that the date and time is inconvenient for you.

If you are going to apply for permanent residency, the time you have lived in Japan before the date you were approved as an HSP will not be counted. You can apply to become a Permanent Resident at the stage when you have stayed in Japan for 3 years beyond the date you were approved as an HSP.

Note that the HSP visa is only valid while you are working for the same employer as when you made your application. If you change your employer, you need to apply for the change and re-apply for the HSP No.1 visa (it was named “Designated Activityvisa until the amendment took place on 1 April 2015). If you hold a “Designated Activityvisa and change your employer, you need to apply for an HSP No.1 visa again. This point is unique to this type of visa.

Need Help?

Our firm, the office of Masami Sato, “gyoseishoshi Sato Masami jimusho”, is solicitors’ office that specialise in visa matters. We can also advise you about rules involved with changing to a Permanent Resident visa from the HSP. Contact Us for any enquiries regarding this Points-Based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Professionals in Japan.