Here’s a Detailed Guide on the Application Process for the Specified Skilled Worker Visa in Japan

For this new working visa, you can work in Japan without a university degree.

Photo Pixabay

The newest working visa type started in Japan in April 2019. This visa allows you to work in Japan without a university degree! However, nothing comes easy, as there are certain conditions you have to satisfy in order to be granted this visa. If you are interested in becoming a Specified Skills Worker in Japan, here is how you can. 

Requirements for the Application

The basic requirements are as follows:

1. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age;
2. The applicant must be in good health;
3. The applicant must possess a valid passport; 
4. The applicant must pass the Knowledge Test (Ginou Shiken) as well as the minimum Japanese Language Test (Nihongo Shiken) stipulated (for those who are Technical Intern Trainees in their 3rd year onwards (ii and iii), they are exempted from these exams);
5. The applicant must not have been staying in Japan for more than 5 years under the Specified Skilled Worker visa (i);
6. The applicant must have completed the procedures to be done before acquiring the visa in your home country/ Japan for those who are living in Japan; (see application flow below)
7. The applicant must have the financial capability and liberty to pay for fees that they will be required to pay. However, the applicant should not pay for any “guarantor fees”, and must not undergo any contract that will incur penalty charges with the company they will be working for;

Side note:
The fees that you are required to pay when applying for the Specified Skilled Worker visa are different from the Technical Intern Training visa. The reasons for this is that (1) You are coming as a worker, not a learner; and (2) because of that, the company will also shoulder or reimburse some of the fees for you to come to Japan. 

Application Process

The application process is different for those who live outside and inside Japan. 

Before anything
, you would need to sign your employment contract as well as pass the Skills test and Japanese language test. You also need to take a complete medical health exam. The medical exam is very important as this determines whether or not you are fit to work in Japan. 

For those who live outside Japan
, you would need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility and Visa and attend pre-orientation before you come to Japan. For those who already live in Japan, you only need to apply for the Change of Status of Residence. 


The Specified Skilled Worker visa is open to those who are currently Technical Intern Trainees in all their stages, and even to those who
don’t have working visas yet and are staying outside Japan. It sounds like it is open to all, but as previously mentioned, an advantage for those who have completed Technical Intern Trainees (ii and iii) is that they are exempted from taking the compulsory exam before entering the Specified Skilled Worker (i) visa. The chart below explains the process and flow in order to upgrade or change your visas. 

Once you completed the process, you are set to move to Japan. Afterwhich, you would need to attend the orientation by your employer or agency, register your residence, open a bank account, and secure everything you need to start or extend your life in Japan! 

Skills Test

One should
at least have a considerable degree of knowledge and experience as specified by the Ministry of Justice in Japan, meaning the person is ready to work, without formal training whatsoever. In Japan, this is equivalent to passing the third-level (san-kyuu) skill test, which is the test for beginners. 

For Specified Skilled Worker (ii), of course, it goes without saying that a highly advanced degree of experience and knowledge is a must. This is equivalent to passing the first-level (
ikkyuu) skill test, which only masters of the field will be able to pass. 

Depending on the industry, the tests are conducted in either Japanese or the local language, and will be comprised of either a written (theory) and/or a practical exam. 

Japanese Language Test

Another question here is:
Should I even know Japanese? The quick answer is yes, but what level should you be? While the tests depend on the industry you are going into, one must at least be able to (1) understand frequently used sentences and basic expressions to be used in daily conversations; (2) respond to information exchange on familiar and everyday matters; (3) be able to explain in simple words about yourself and your needs. These are basically the Japanese Language Proficiency Test N4 level standard, which one must attain prior to application. 

Another option is the Japanese Language Skills Test done at The Japan Foundation centers in different countries (
Nihongo Kiso Test). The Japanese language test also focuses on reading and listening, as these are the two skills you will most likely use in your job. 


For the Japanese tests, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test is conducted twice a year on the first Sundays of July and December, and the exam conducted by The Japan Foundation is conducted about six times a year.  

What the future is looking like

The number of technical interns has risen to almost 275,000 people last December 2017, but with the new Specified Skilled Worker visa, the Japanese government has announced that it will be accepting 350,000 people for the Specified Skilled Worker (i) visa in the first five years.

Working in Japan has never been easier with the country opening its doors to foreign workers. Do you think you have what it takes to apply for this type of visa? Which industry are you looking to get into?

 (11 April 2019)

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