Specified Skilled Worker Visa – Door to Japan

Specified Skilled Worker Visa - Door to Japan

The Specified Skilled Worker Visa is an opportunity for many foreigners who want to work in Japan. But currently, it can be hard to find information about requirements, tests, and the process.

This article addresses this issue by giving you an overview of what you need to know and where to get up-to-date information. (Last Update: February 9th, 2021)

What is the Specified Skilled Worker Visa

The Specified Skilled Worker Visa (Japanese: 特定技能, とくていぎのう) has made working in Japan easier than ever before. The visa was created to make it easier for foreigners to work in the 14 industries hit the strongest by Japan’s growing labor shortage.

What makes it so different from other work visas is that the education requirements have been dropped. For this type of visa, you don’t need a university degree. This opens the door to many who were previously unable to come to Japan to work before.

Additionally, Japanese language requirements for positions under the visa are also lower than usual.

Can you get the Specified Skilled Worker Visa?

Requirements

To get the Specified Skilled Worker Visa, you need to first find a job or a supporting organization and then pass a Japanese language test as well as an industry-specific skills exam to show that you have what it takes.

✔ Support from “Accepting Organization” or “Registered Supporting Organization”
✔ Minimum required Japanese level (test)
✔ Experience in relevant industry (test)
✔ Over 18 years of age

No need for:
✖ University degree
✖ Business level Japanese

Nationality

The Specified Skilled Worker Visa is in theory available to candidates of all nationalities. In practice, there are two exceptions to this rule.

Bilateral Agreements: Japan has bilateral agreements with a number of partner countries from where they expect many candidates.
As a result, the application process may go smoother for nationals from the following countries: Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thai, Myanmar, Nepal, Mongolia, Bangladesh [link].

The bilateral agreements are meant to prevent abuse of the system as has previously happened under the Technical Intern visa an also allows skills and Japanese tests to be held directly in the partner countries.

Excluded Countries: Japan reserves the right to exclude nationals from certain countries from being able to apply for the Specified Skilled Worker visa.
At the time of writing excluded countries are Iran and Turkey.

The reasoning being that with nationals of unstable countries it cannot be guaranteed that they will (be able to) return to their home country and leave Japan after their period of stay runs out.

Specified Skilled Worker Visa Type 1 and 2

It’s actually not just one visa that was launched in spring 2019, but two!

The specified Skilled Worker Visa comes as Type 1 and Type 2. International workers coming to Japan under the Specified Skilled Worker Visa for the first time will start with Type 1.

Type 2 requires more work experience and higher skills and, in return, offers holders better visa conditions. Most importantly, Type 2 holders can renew their visa as often as they want. Type 1 holders, on the other hand, can only stay in Japan for a maximum of five years.

Currently, only two industries are scheduled to allow for the transition to Type 2: Construction and Shipbuilding/Ship Machinery. Applicants that want a Type 2 visa have to pass additional skills tests, but the specifics haven’t been decided on yet.

Specified Skilled Worker Type 1 Type 2
Period of Stay 1 year, 4 or 6 months 1 or 3 years, 6 months
Skills Test Yes Yes
Japanese Test Yes No
Renewable Yes, up to 5 years Yes, without limitations
Bring Family Members No Yes
Permanent Residence No Yes

Which industries are covered?

In the near future, Japan expects to welcome over 300,000 new foreign workers under the Specified Skilled Worker Visa.
Below you can find an overview of the relevant industries and the expected intake of foreign employees over a five-year span (from 2019 to 2024).

  1. Care Worker (60,000) >> details
  2. Building cleaning management (37,000) >> details
  3. Machine Parts & Tooling Industries (21,500) >> details
  4. Industrial Machinery Industry (5,250) >> details
  5. Electric, Electronics and Information Industries(4,700) >> details
  6. Construction Industry (40,000) >> details
  7. Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery Industry (13,000) >> details
  8. Automobile Repair and Maintenance (7,000) >> details
  9. Aviation Industry (2,200) >> details
  10. Accommodation Industry (22,000) >> details
  11. Agriculture (36,500) >> details
  12. Fishery & Aquaculture (9,000) >> details
  13. Manufacture of Food & Beverages (34,000) >> details
  14. Food Service Industry (53,000) >> details

Before diving into the details for each industry, let’s first take a look at the general application process.

Application Process

1. Find a company: The first step on your way to the visa is the same as with any other work visa – you need to find a company that wants to hire you. Make use of job-matching events like this one to look for companies and get job interviews.

2. Take the tests: Once you know what industry and job you would be doing you can take the industry-specific skills test and the general Japanese language test.

3. Apply for a CoE: Once you passed all your tests and you signed an employment contract with the company, you can apply for the certificate of eligibility (paperwork usually handled by your sponsoring organization).

4. Visa application: With your Certificate of Eligibility you can then go to the consulate and apply for your Specified Skilled Worker visa.

Japanese level Test

Basic Japanese skills are necessary to be eligible for the Specified Skilled Worker visa. Applicants need to be at least advanced beginners, meaning N4 or A2 level Japanese skills. This is the level where you’re able to handle simple everyday conversations in Japanese and can understand clearly given instructions.

For candidates who have previously lived and studied in Japan for at least 3 years, the Japanese test can be waived. For everyone else, there are currently two tests available to show that your Japanese is good enough.

JLPT

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is the standard Japanese test. While the JLPT tests general language skills, it does not focus on the specific skills needed to succeed in positions under the new visa.

READ ON  JLPT – What it is and when to take it

JFT-Basic

The Japan Foundation Test for Basic was created to meet the new testing requirements of the Specified Skilled Worker Visa. Tests can be taken on the PC, and questions focus on the basic and industry-relevant Japanese that candidates need to know to be able to work in the position.

READ ON  How to apply for the JFT-Basic

Skills Test

In addition to the Japanese test, Specified Skilled Worker Visa applicants also have to pass a skills test for the industry they want to work in. Candidates can be exempt from the skills test if they finished the Technical Intern Training or if they’ve completed relevant training or certification in Japan.

With a few exceptions, the skills tests are offered in the local language – so if you take the test in Indonesia, it will be in Indonesian. Tests held in Japan are in Japanese, but with furigana over the kanji.

The tests differ slightly by industry. However, generally speaking, most of them take between an hour and 80 minutes and test-takers need to get at least 60% right to pass. For the most part, the tests are set up in multiple-choice style, often employing a simple Yes/No (Correct/Incorrect) answering scheme.

Since April 2019, foreign applicants are able to take tests in Japan even with “temporary visitor” status. So you can come here and take the test on a tourist visa. However, be aware that passing the test doesn’t mean you’re allowed to stay and work in Japan – you have to receive your working visa first!

If it is hard for you to find information on tests for your industry there is no need to worry. The first step to getting a visa is always finding a company that wants to hire you. To do so companies have to sign up for the program and should be able to give you information on test contents and dates.

Test information by Industry

※The regular Japanese test (JLPT or JFT-Basic) is both necessary and the same for every industry. Because of this, we didn’t list it separately here.

1. Care Worker

Jobs: Nursing care (excluding at home) >> Website (Japanese)

Tests: Japanese test, skills test, industry-specific Japanese test
Industry-specific tests: CBT (computer-based testing), cost around ¥1,000, passing grade is 60%, test schedule

1. Skills test (介護技能評価試験); 45 questions in 60min
Covering: Fundamentals of care (10Q), mechanisms of the mind and body (6Q), communication skills (4Q), physical care (20Q), practical exam (5Q)
>> Example Questions

2. Care Worker Japanese test (介護日本語評価試験): 15 questions in 30min
Covering: Technical terms (5Q), communication (5Q), documents (5Q)
>> Example Questions

2. Building cleaning management

Jobs: Interior building cleaning (excluding homes) >> Website (Japanese, English at the bottom of the page)

Tests:
1. Paper-based test (20 minutes; passing grade: 60%) >> (2019 test for reference)
2. Practical test, covering three tasks: Floor cleaning, glass surface cleaning, bathroom cleaning (12 minutes)

3. Machine Parts & Tooling Industries

Jobs: Casting, Metal press, Finishing, Welding, Forging, Factory sheet metal work, Machine inspection, Die casting, Electroplating, Painting, Machine maintenance, Machining, Aluminium anodizing >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Computer-based testing (CBT), divided into theoretical and practical part
Passing grade for the theoretical part: 65%
Passing grade for the practical part: 60% (criteria vary depending on skill tested for)

Cost: ~¥2,000

>> List of upcoming tests outside of Japan
>> List of upcoming tests in Japan

4. Industrial Machinery Industry

Jobs: Casting, Painting, Finishing, Electrical equipment assembling, Welding, Forging, Ironwork, Machine inspection, Printed writing board manufacturing, Industrial packaging, Die casting, Factory sheet metal work, Machine maintenance, Plastic molding, Machining, Plating Electronic equipment assembling, Metal press >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Grouped with 3. Machine Parts & Tooling Industries (see above)

5. Electric, Electronics and Information Industries

Jobs: Machining, Finishing, Printed writing board manufacturing, Industrial packaging, Metal press, Machine maintenance, Plastic molding, Factory sheet metal work, Electronic equipment assembling, Painting, Plating, Electrical equipment assembling, Welding >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Grouped with 3. Machine Parts & Tooling Industries (see above)

6. Construction Industry

Jobs: Formwork construction, Earthwork, Interior finishing/material mounting, Plastering, Roofing, Concrete pumping, Telecommunications, Tunnel and Propulsion, Reinforcement construction, Construction machinery and construction, Reinforcing bar joints >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Type 1 Visa:
Divided into theoretical and practical part
Theoretical part: Computer-based testing (CBT); 30 questions in 60 minutes; passing grade: 65%
Practical part: Range and passing criteria depending on skill tested for

>> Example questions (in Japanese) and upcoming test dates

Type 2 Visa: TBA

7. Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery Industry

Jobs: Welding, Finishing, Painting, Machining, Ironwork, Electrical equipment assembling >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Type 1 Visa:
30 questions in 60 min
Passing grade 60%
The first 10 questions are about general safety, the other 20 about job-specific knowledge (ex. welding, machining) >> More info (in Japanese)

2. Type 2 Visa: TBA

8. Automobile Repair and Maintenance

Jobs: Automobile everyday inspection and maintenance, Regular inspection and maintenance, Disassembly >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Computer-based testing (CBT), divided into theoretical and practical part
Theoretical part: 30 questions in 60 minutes; passing grade 65% >> Example questions (in Japanese)
Practical part: 9 questions in 20 minutes, passing grade 60% >> Example questions (in Japanese)

Cost: ¥4,300 (in Japan); 2,000 PHP (in the Philippines)

For test schedules and example questions, see this website (in Japanese, with English-language PDF links)

9. Aviation Industry

Jobs: Airport ground handling, Aircraft maintenance >> Website (Japanese)

Tests: One of the following
1. Ground Handling Test (info)
Paper-based test, Divided into theoretical and practical part
Theoretical part: ~30 questions in 60 minutes
Practical part: ~15 questions in 30 minutes
Passing grade for both parts: 65%

Cost: ¥2000

>> Study Guide Safety/Quality (Japanese with Furigana)
>> Study Guide Ground Handling (Japanese with Furigana)

2. Aircraft Maintenance (info)
Divided into theoretical and practical part
Theoretical part: Paper-based test, 30 questions in 60 minutes
Practical part: 1~ 3 tasks (fastening, electrical measuring) in 30 minutes

>> Test Schedule (in Japanese)
*No Aircraft Maintenance tests scheduled for 2021 due to Covid-19.

10. Accommodation Industry

Jobs: Providing accommodation services such as working at the front desk, planning/public relations, hospitality, restaurant services >> Website (Japanese)

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
Covering 5 areas: front desk work, planning and public relations, interacting with customers, restaurant service, and safety/hygiene (info)
Computer-based testing (CBT); divided into Theoretical and practical part
Theoretical part: 30 questions in 45 minutes
Practical part: 4 questions in 10 minutes
Passing grade for both parts: 65%

Cost: ¥3,500

11. Agriculture

Jobs: General crop farming, General livestock farming >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Computer-based testing (CBT); up to 70 questions in 60 minutes
1. General crop farming test or
2. General livestock farming test

Cost: ¥8,000 (in Japan)
In other countries:
– Cambodia, Myanmar: 33 USD
– Philippines: 1,700 PHP
– Indonesia: 450,000 IDR
– Thailand: 1,050 THB

>>More info on the test (English)
>>Study guides/textbooks (English)

12. Fishery & Aquaculture

Jobs: Fishery or Aquaculture Industry >> Website (Japanese)

Tests: One of the following
1. Fishery test
2. Aquaculture industry test

Both tests are divided into theoretical and practical parts.
Theoretical part: 40 ~ 50 questions in 50 minutes
Practical part: 10 ~ 25 questions in 20 minutes
Passing grade for both parts: 65%

>> Study guides/textbooks for both job types (Japanese and Indonesian, bottom of the page)

13. Manufacture of Food & Beverages

Jobs: General food and beverages manufacturing excluding alcoholic beverages manufacturing >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Paper-based skills test (飲食料品製造業特定技能1号技能測定試験), 40 questions in 80min
Divided into theoretical and practical parts
Passing grade: 65%
Cost: 8,000¥

>> Test website (Japanese with Furigana)
>> Study guides in various languages (at the bottom of the page)

14. Food Service Industry

Jobs: General restaurant industry >> Website (Japanese)

Tests:
Paper-based skills test (外食業技能測定試験), 45 questions in 80min
Test covers customer service, preparation of food and drink, hygiene controls
Divided into theoretical and practical parts
Passing grade: 65%
Cost: 7,000¥

>> Test website (Japanese with Furigana)
>> Test schedule and study guides (study guides are at the bottom of the page)


What are your experiences with the new Specified Skilled Worker Visa so far?
At this point there still isn’t much available information on the topic, so please share any experiences or questions you may have in the comments for others.

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Madelaine

After traveling around for a while, I found my home in Tokyo. Now working in Shinjuku and discovering something new about Japan every day.