Main Distinction between Specified Skilled Worker and Highly Skilled Foreign Professional

With the chronic labor shortage in Japan as a result of the country’s aging population, low birth rate and decline in inward migration, the Land of the Rising Sun is determined to find ways in order to open more and more employment opportunities for foreign professionals and specified skilled workers in Japan.


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In particular, there are fourteen sectors that are identified to suffer the worst labor problem such as but not limited to construction, agriculture, nursing or care giving and food and service industry. To encourage more foreign workers to come to Japan and work in these fields, the new immigration law introduced a new type of visa which is known as the “Specified Skilled Worker” visa.


Applicants under the Specified Skilled worker may work in the particular field that they intend to apply for provided that they pass the industry specific exam that is to be conducted by the sector that they want to work for. Moreover, they must also obtain at least an N4 Level in Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Having basic knowledge of the Japanese language is necessary so as to enable them to integrate successfully in the society.


However, applicants under the Specified Skilled Worker visa need not be professionals who possess a college or university degree provided that they have considerable experience and skills in the particular area.


On the other hand, Highly Skilled Foreign Professional visa is intended for scientists, engineers, lawyers and business executives whose expertise in their field cannot be substituted or replaced by local Japanese. To attract more foreign professionals in the country, the Japanese government has offered more benefits and even preferential treatment to this special group of foreign nationals.


As opposed to specified skilled workers, highly skilled professionals are allowed to engage in multiple fields or area. In addition, they may apply for permanent residency after three years of working and staying in Japan. Meanwhile, other foreigners who do not fall within this visa type may only apply for permanent residency after ten years of residing in the country.


Reference: Highly-Skilled Foreign Professional Visa for Japan: How and Why to Apply


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