The Japanese government will introduce a new, simplified system for granting highly skilled professional visas to foreign workers next Friday to attract overseas talent, the Immigration Services Agency said Friday.
Under the new measure, the government will grant the visa to foreign applicants and introduce preferential treatment for those who meet certain conditions, such as having an annual income of 20 million yen ($151,000) and a master's degree.
Under the government's current points-based system, points are allocated according to categories that include academic and employment backgrounds, as well as annual income. But the move has been seen as overly complicated as the global race to acquire skilled workers heats up.
Currently, applicants with points exceeding a certain level will be granted a five-year highly skilled professional visa and can acquire a visa with an indefinite period of stay after three years.
Highly skilled professional visas are granted for three types of activity -- advanced academic research, advanced specialized/technical activities and advanced business and management activities.
While retaining the points-based system, the new measure will enable applicants conducting advanced academic research or advanced specialized/technical activities to obtain a five-year visa if they have a master's degree or higher and an annual income upwards of 20 million yen, or an employment record of 10 years or more and an annual income upwards of 20 million yen.
For those applying for advanced business and management activities, five-year visas will be granted if they have an employment record of five years or over and an annual income of 40 million yen or more.
Those being granted five-year visas under the simplified requirements will also qualify for a permanent visa after residing in Japan for one year, compared with three years for current holders.
The introduction of the new measure was decided in February after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last year instructed relevant ministries to consider reforms to attract highly skilled human resources to Japan, including the establishment of a new system that "ranks among the best in the world."