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.

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. This opens the door to many who were previously unable to get Japanese work visas for the simple reason of not having graduated from university.

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 are ready to work!

✔ 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

Now, it is actually not just one visa that was launched in spring 2019 but two visas.

The specified Skilled Worker Visa comes as Type 1 and Type 2. International workers coming to Japan under Specified Skilled Worker Visa will start with a Type 1 visa.
The difference between the type 1 and type 2 visa is that the type 2 visa requires more work experience and a higher skill set from the candidate and in return offers holders better visa conditions.

When the Specified Skilled Worker visas were first announced it seemed as if everyone type 1 visa holder would have the chance to apply for a type 2 visa, after their stay but currently the type 2 visa is only available for two industries, whereas employees in other industries are asked to leave the country after their maximum period of stay is up.

The two exceptions are employees in the construction or the Shipbuilding/Ship Machinery industry. Candidates of both industries have the opportunity to receive a Type 2 visa if they pass additional skills tests.

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?

Over the next 5 years, 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 the next 5 years.

  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.

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. That is why the Japanese test check for upper beginner skills at the N4 or A2 level Japanese skills. At this level candidates will be able to handle simple everyday conversations in Japanese on their own and can understand clearly given instructions. For a few industries like nursing care, an additional industry-specific language test may also be required.

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

To qualify for the Specified Skilled Worker Visa applicants have to pass both a skills test for the relevant industry as well as a Japanese language test.

Candidates can be exempt from the skills test if they finished the Technical Intern Training (ii) or in certain cases where applicants completed relevant training or certification in Japan.

While each industry is organizing their own skills tests, it seems that most of them take around 1 hour and test-takers need to get at least 60% right to pass.

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 the 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

1. Care Worker

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

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 (Jap)

Tests: Japanese test, skills test (info)
1. Paper-based test (40 points, passing grade 60%)
2. Practical test covering: floor cleaning, glass surface cleaning, bathroom cleaning (60 points)

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 (Jap)

Tests: TBA

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 (Jap)

Tests: TBA

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 (Jap)

Tests: TBA

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 (Jap)

Tests: depending on visa type
1. Type 1 Visa: Japanese Test, skills test or license exam level 3 (info)
2. Type 2 Visa: TBA

7. Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery Industry

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

Tests: depending on visa type
1. Type 1 Visa: Japanese Test, skills test or license exam level 3 (info)
2. Type 2 Visa: TBA

8. Automobile Repair and Maintenance

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

Tests: Japanese test, skills test or official test level 3 (info)

9. Aviation Industry

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

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
1. Ground Handling Test (info) or
2. Aircraft Maintenance (info)

10. Accommodation Industry

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

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
Covering 5 areas: front, 広報・企画業務」「接客業務restaurant service, 安全衛生その他基 (info)
1. Written exam (30 questions)
2. Practical exam

11. Agriculture

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

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
1. General crop farming test or
2. General livestock farming test

12. Fishery & Aquaculture

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

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
1. Fishery test or
2. Aquaculture industry test

13. Manufacture of Food & Beverages

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

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
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
Written exam, passing grade 65%, cost around 8,000¥
>> Info (Eng), Test schedule (Jap), a study guide will soon be made available here

14. Food Service Industry

Jobs: General restaurant industry >> Website (Jap)

Tests: Japanese test, skills test
Skills test (外食業技能測定試験): 45 questions in 80min
Written exam, passing grade 65%, cost around 7,000¥
Covering: customer service, preparation of food and drink, hygiene controls
>> Info (Eng), Test schedule (Jap) and study guides (English version at bottom of 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.