Speculation is rife that, in a long-awaited move, Japan is readying to relax its strict entry restrictions on foreign nationals to allow more new visa applicants to seek entry clearance.

Citing several government sources, several nationwide media outlets reported Wednesday that in as early as October the country will start allowing entry for residents with permission to stay more than three months and international students, regardless of where they come from. However, the planned change will not cover tourists.

Under the current travel restrictions, which have been met with harsh criticism from Japan’s foreign community and international business groups, travelers from 159 countries and regions have been denied entry in principle. From September, Japan has been allowing its foreign residents to seek re-entry permission without strict preconditions, albeit under strict entry procedures. However, entry permission for new arrivals has been granted only in limited situations.