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Specialized Skilled Worker Visa: What is it and how can I apply?

Over the years, many foreign nationals including Filipinos, go to Japan for travel, employment, education, and residency. However, in the case of those who wish to work in Japan, the process had been quite challenging in the past because the Japanese government had been quite strict when it comes to accepting foreign workers into their country.

ALSO READ: Employers Prefer Filipino Workers in Kyushu, Japan – DOLE

But the good news is, starting in 2020, the Japanese government has officially established a new type of visa which will allow foreign workers to join the country’s labor force in support of Japan’s rapidly aging population. 

Specialized Skilled Worker Visa: What Is It and How to Apply

Everything You Need to Know About the Specialized Skilled Worker (SSW) Visa in 2020

In this post, we will share with you some of the basic things you need to know about the SSW that could help you find work in Japan much easier than before. 

But first, you need to understand that the SSW visa is intended to help Japan’s economy by supporting the 14 industries that have been greatly affected by the country’s growing labor shortage.

And what makes this new Japanese work visa type is the fact that it does not have any educational requirements connected with it. This move has opened the door to many who were previously unable to get Japanese work visas for the simple reason of not having graduated from university.

Moreover, the Japanese language requirements for positions under the visa are also lower compared to the standard used in the past.

What are the Requirements to Apply for the SSW Visa?

Applying for an SSW visa will require you to look for 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.

In a nutshell, these are the things that you need to apply for the SSW visa:

What You Need:

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

What You Don’t Need:

  • University degree
  • Business level Japanese

Who Are Eligible to Apply?

In theory, the SSW is available to candidates of all nationalities. However, in practice, there are two exceptions to this rule.

1. Bilateral Agreements. Japan has enforced several bilateral agreements with several partner countries from where they expect many candidates. For this reason, the application process may go smoother for those who will come from any of these partner nations:

    • Vietnam, 
    • Philippines, 
    • Cambodia, 
    • Indonesia, 
    • Thai, 
    • Myanmar, 
    • Nepal, 
    • Mongolia, and 
    • Bangladesh

The establishment of a bilateral agreement aims to prevent abuse of the system, which had happened under the Technical Intern visa. The SSW also allows skills and Japanese tests to be held directly in the partner countries.

2. Excluded Countries. With the new guidelines set for the SSW visa, Japan, as the host country, also reserves the right to exclude nationals from certain countries from being able to apply for the Specified Skilled Worker visa. As of October 2019, these countries include Iran and Turkey.

The reason for this is that nationals of unstable countries may not be guaranteed that they will (be able to) return to their home country and leave Japan after their period of stay runs out.

Two Types of Visa: SSW Type 1 and Type 2

Since its launch in the Spring of 2019, two visas have been rolled out: the Specified Skills Worker Visa Type 1 and Type 2. International workers coming to Japan under the Specified Skilled Worker Visa will start with a Type 1 visa.

The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 visa is that the latter requires more work experience and a higher skill set from the candidate and in return offers holders better visa conditions.

When the SSW visa had first been announced, it seemed as if every type 1 visa holder would have the chance to apply for a type 2 visa after their stay. However, 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.

These two industries are the construction or the Shipbuilding/Ship Machinery industries. SSW Visa type 1 holders from both industries have the opportunity to receive a Type 2 visa if they pass additional skills tests.

What are the 14 Industries Included in the SSW Visa Program?

Over the next five years, Japan is looking to welcome over 300,000 new foreign workers under the Specified Skilled Worker Visa.

Below is the list of the 14 industries and the expected intake of foreign employees over the next 5 years.

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

What is the Application Process for the SSW Program?

After you’ve checked out which industry you are most likely qualified to apply in, it’s important to know the general application guidelines to follow:

Step#1:  Find a Company: Similar to how you would apply for a work visa, you also need to look for a company that wants to hire you. 

Step#2: Take the tests: Once you have identified which industry you can apply work for, you can then take the industry-specific skills test and the general Japanese language test.

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

Step#4: Visa Application: After you have secured a CoE from your sponsoring company, the next thing to do is to go to the consulate and apply for your Specified Skilled Worker visa.

As mentioned, the SSW visa is one that is covered by bilateral agreements with partner nations. If you are from the Philippines and other partner countries, you may visit your embassy’s website for more details. Meanwhile, Filipinos who are interested to apply for an SSW visa may refer to the advisory posted by Tokyo POLO to learn more. 

Have you tried applying for the SSW visa yet? Although travel restrictions are still in place, if this is part of your long-term goals, now would be a good time to get to know and prepare all the requirements needed to apply for the SSW visa. If you’ve already applied for this visa status, how was your experience, and what was the result? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below!

ALSO READ: 3 Challenges You Need to Face Before Becoming a Trainee in Japan

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