The Immigration Services Agency (ISA) on Thursday relaxed the conditions for the granting of residential status to foreign students who have graduated from vocational schools in Japan, in an attempt to retain highly skilled professionals amid a chronic labor shortage.

Prospective non-Japanese vocational school graduates who finish education ministry-accredited academic courses will be granted the “technology, humanities and international affairs” residence status intended for white-collar workers such as engineers, interpreters and designers, even if their jobs don’t necessarily relate to what they have studied.

Before the revision, in order for such graduates to obtain the above residence status, they had to get a job related to their major, which often limited their job opportunities, causing many to return to their home countries.