The length of time for highly skilled foreign professionals to apply for their permanent residency may be shortened under a new move which Is being considered by the Japanese government. This news comes as Japan is aiming to lure more global talent as they have a shortage of skilled workers. The current system only grants privileges to certain highly skilled workers including entrepreneurs, technical experts and academic researchers. The system allows highly skilled workers to apply for permanent residency after five years of living in Japan.

The Japanese is considering to shorten the time frame significantly to create a faster system to issue out green cards to top level professionals, a Justice Ministry official said Tuesday. However officials are yet to decide what the new time frame would be. it has been rumoured that the term could be shortened to three years or even one year for people deemed to have exceptional management or technical skills. The new guideline will be finalised and set to be announced at the end of March 2019.

The Justice Ministry official said the government aims to boost economic growth by actively accepting more highly skilled foreign specialists. The existing points-based system evaluates foreigners based on criteria such as annual income, academic background and language skills. It will work on a points based system and those who score 70 points can stay in Japan under a five year ‘designated activities’ visa. For foreign residents in highly skilled professions, this can be extended to working visas for their spouses and the right to bring their parents and housekeepers to Japan.

Thew new five year requirement for permanent residency for skilled professionals plan will comparably be longer then other developed countries. Currently the United Kingdom requires foreign nationals to live in the UK for five years before they become permanent residents, and for certain entrepreneurs this is down to three years. South Korea also has a five-year requirement, but it falls to three years for experts with a college degree in cutting-edge technology, and one year for those with a doctoral degree.

Statistics show that as of June Japan has 2,688 foreign nationals recognised as highly skilled foreign workers, 65 percent of them are Chinese nationals. That only constitutes to a small 0.12 percent of the 2.3 million foreign residents in Japan.

Luring more foreign workers is seen as critical, with the graying society contributing to a shrinking workforce.

In a separate move, the Lower House passed an amendment to the immigration law last month to allow foreign caregivers to enter Japan under a new visa status aimed at boosting workers in the notoriously low-paid profession.