Are you a “Humanities Specialist”? I was and it sucked. I renewed every year or three, I couldn’t start extra businesses and it seemed like a waste of time when I planned on living hear long term!
What I really wanted was permanent residency. But coming up on a visa expiry in about 3-4 months had me less than certain it was a good idea to roll the dice. I knew people who applied and got it, but I also knew at least three times as many who didn’t. It seemed so subjective.
In one case, three friends I knew who worked at the same company, doing the same job, all applied at once. Two of those friends were married and one was single. Only one of the married friends was married to a Japanese female. They all applied but only the married guys got it. Why? The one data point that the two married friends shared was they both wrote, “I want to buy a house” on their application. Not enough data for me and it still seemed super subjective.
So I hired an attorney and asked her advice. That’s when she told me about the “Highly Skilled Professional” visa. At first glance it sounded a lot like the permanent residency application process. I had to get together as much paperwork, but one of the differences in the application process is no letters of reference from upstanding Japanese people. I also was told not volunteering or contributing to Japanese society didn’t matter. Lucky for me because I’m a working stiff that just likes to party.
Then she told me about the benefits being very similar to permanent residency and how it transitions you over to PR!
Multiple activities (own business, research, work)
Spouse may work any type of job
Relaxed requirements for permanent residency
5 year visa
Parent visa for child care starting with pregnancy
Preferential processing of procedures of entry and residence
The full writeup can be found here on the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s website.
Now, why are they “relaxing” the requirements for PR? I don’t think it’s being relaxed but rather being a bit more transparent and direct. In my opinion it’s because the application process for this via, the Highly Skilled Professional visa. You have a similar points-based system with requirements such as
Age (it favors the young!)
Patents and research performed
japanese work visa highly skilled professional
Another reason to study hard for the N1? You betcha.
In total I hit ~90 points so I was pretty confident going into the process. Also I hired an attorney for the whole process, costing 166,000 yen and saving me quite a bit of time. Head on over to their website here if you also hate paperwork and long lines.