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Japan set to fast-track permanent residency for skilled foreign professionals

JIJI

The Justice Ministry is moving to ease requirements for the permanent residency for highly skilled foreign professionals such as researchers in cutting-edge fields by the end of March, sources said Tuesday.

The ministry specifically plans to allow such foreign nationals to acquire permanent resident status as soon as a year, after hearing public comments from Wednesday, they said.

Unless it receives strong opposition, the ministry will proceed with work for the deregulation including ministerial ordinance revision, the sources added.

In the current Japanese immigration control system, introduced in 2012, foreign workers are graded by points on their personal features, including occupation, income and academic background. People who have 70 points or more are recognized as “highly skilled professionals” and are granted permanent residency in five years at the earliest.

The envisaged system change will give workers assigned at least 70 points the permanent resident status in three years, and one year for those with 80 points or more, the sources said.

A total of 6,298 foreign nationals were certified as highly skilled professionals as of the end of October last year. Of them, about one-third are expected to be able to gain the status in a year under the new system, according to the ministry.

Britain and South Korea have already adopted policies to give permanent residency to highly skilled foreign professionals. The Japanese government aims to follow suit as part of its growth strategy.