The Highly Skilled Professional (HSP) Visa: A Closer Look

The HSP visa, previousy known as the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional (HSFP) visa, is a unique offering established in May 2012. This visa type is intended for exceptionally talented foreign workers who possess high-level and specialized skills.

It’s essential to note that this unique visa category is a variation of the work visa. As such, it’s necessary to have a specific job or job offer from a Japanese sponsor to qualify for this visa.

The applicant’s eligibility for the HSP visa is determined through a points system. Points are allotted based on the applicant’s educational background, professional experience, income, and academic accomplishments, following a set points chart devised by the Immigration Authorities. If an applicant can amass 70 points or more, they qualify for this unique visa status.

Benefits of the HSP Visa 🎁

Holders of the HSP visa enjoy several benefits, including:

  • The option to engage in various activities encompassing different visa categories.
  • A visa duration of five years.
  • Accelerated access to the Permanent Resident visa.
  • Expedited processing of immigration procedures.
  • Spousal permission to work full-time under certain circumstances.
  • The possibility of bringing parents to Japan under specific conditions.
  • The option to employ a domestic helper or nanny under particular conditions.

HSP Visa Sub-Categories 🗂️

The HSP visa consists of three sub-categories based on activities or roles, and points are distributed differently across these sub-categories:

(A) Advanced academic research activities (related to activities allowed under the Researcher or Professor visa)

(B) Advanced specialized/technical activities (related to activities allowed under the Engineer, Specialist in Humanities, or Intra-company transferee visa)

(C) Advanced business management activities (related to activities allowed under the Business Manager visa)

Note: The salary requirement for applicants under the business management sub-category is much higher, making it more challenging for applicants in CEO/representative director positions to meet the criteria compared to skilled employees.

Points Allocation 🎯

To give an idea of the points allocation:

  • Doctor’s degree: 30 points, Master’s degree: 20 points
  • Professional experience: 5-25 points
  • Income earned from the Japanese sponsoring organization: 10-50 points
  • Age (younger applicants receive more points): 5-15 points
  • Japanese language ability: 10-15 points

Only points supported with sufficient documentation will be considered. For more details, please refer to the Point Calculation Table.

Documents Required 📄

In addition to the documents supporting all the scored points, it’s necessary to provide all other basic documents related to the company/job required for a standard work visa application. This means the document requirement for this visa is higher than with standard work visa applications.

HSP Visa Tied to the Sponsoring Organization 🤝

The HSP visa is strictly tied to the sponsoring organization. Thus, when the applicant leaves the job for which the HSP visa was granted, they must promptly switch to a different visa.

Changes to the Highly Skilled Visa System 🔄

The Highly Skilled Visa system has undergone several changes, with the most recent change taking effect on 26th April 2017. Based on this new amendment, applicants who score 70 or 75 points can apply for Permanent Residency after three years of continuous work and living in Japan. Those who score 80 points or more can apply for Permanent Residency after just one year.

Furthermore, the criteria for Permanent Residency have been relaxed considerably, making it possible for applicants to apply directly for the Permanent Resident visa. This can be done without spending the prescribed 3 or 1 year on the Highly Skilled Visa, provided they meet certain conditions.

However, other requirements must also be met when applying for Permanent Residency. These include having a job in Japan that satisfies the point requirements at the time of application, having paid taxes and official social security contributions during the required period, having a guarantor to support the application, having spent a significant amount of time physically in Japan during the years leading up to the application, having complied with laws and immigration procedures, and having at least a 3-year visa at the time of the application.

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