Japan Invites 820,000 Nigerians, Other Foreign Workers to Tackle Labour Shortage

The Japanese government has disclose a plan to welcome up to 820,000 foreigners in the transportation and logistics sectors under its skilled worker visa over the next five years which is more than double the previous estimation for the five years.

The country aims to alleviate the shortage of drivers by extending their stay of up to five years and to revise current regulations to facilitate the acceptance of skilled workers in the newly added sectors.

During a meeting ahead of the cabinet decision, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi requested relevant ministers to, “make preparations to accept (the foreign workers) without delay and to make efforts to realize an inclusive society.”

This cabinet decision to expand the eligible industries under the Specified Skilled Worker No. 1 visa to 16, is the first expansion since the program’s inception in 2019.

Demand for Foreign Labour

Japan’s demand for foreign labor has intensified due to factors such as a declining birthrate and significant shortages in transportation and logistics sectors, which are expected to worsen with the implementation of new overtime regulations for drivers starting in April, known as the “2024 problem.”

Under the expanded program, skilled foreigners will be recruited as drivers in the road transportation sector, including buses, taxis, and trucks, by certified companies.

Language proficiency requirements, particularly for drivers of buses and taxis who interact with passengers, include passing the N3 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

In the railway sector, skilled workers will be engaged in roles such as train car manufacturing, track maintenance, and operation as drivers, conductors, and station staff.

Additionally, operations related to textiles, iron and steel, and printing in the manufacturing industry have been included in the program.

Foreigners holding the No. 1 visa must demonstrate professional and Japanese language skills, while the No. 2 visa allows for unlimited renewals and potential permanent residency, enabling workers to bring their families to Japan.

The government’s move to expand the skilled worker visa program coincides with efforts to overhaul the foreign trainee program, aiming to address issues such as labor rights violations and unpaid wages. The new program will facilitate trainees’ transition to the Specified Skilled Worker No. 1 visa by allowing them to switch workplaces within the same industry under specific conditions while acquiring necessary skills.

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Japan Begins Issuance of New Visa Types

The Specified Skilled Worker No. 1 visa programme now includes 16 industries, including the newly added transportation and logistics sectors and operations related to textile, iron and steel, and printing in manufacturing.

The country’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshimasa Hayashi, stressed the importance of the integration for foreign workers, asking relevant ministries to prepare to accept them without delay and to include them in the society.

The new programme offers a clear route for foreign workers in the country, allowing for unlimited visa renewals and potential permanent residency. It also allows workers to bring their families to Japan. 

Per the reports, the move comes as efforts to reform the foreign trainee programme, which aims to create a smoother transition for trainees to the Skilled Worker programme, which allows them to switch workplaces in the same industry under specific conditions as they acquire the necessary skills. 

Japan Work Visa Application and Requirements

When you apply for a Japan Work Visa, you have to submit the following supporting documents:

  • The Certificate of Eligibility
  • Japan Work Visa Application Form, completed and signed. You can download a copy of the application form from the website of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (here).
  • Your valid passport along with photocopies of it
  • Passport-size pictures in line with Japan following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4cm x 3cm
    • Taken within the last three months
    • Plain white background, without any patterns and shadows
    • You must be starting straight ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your face has to be fully visible
    • The picture must be good quality (focused, clear, and sharp)
  • Documents detailing your position in the company/organization, the salary you will receive, and the duration of the work.
  • Documents attesting to your previous academic and professional history
  • Documents related to the receiving company, such as company registration, statement of profit and loss, etc.
  • For artists: Any documents which show your artistic achievements.
  • For religious workers:
    • Documents which show the details of the religious organization sending you to Japan
    • Documents which show the details of the receiving Japanese organization
    • Documents attesting to your religious position and career
  • For researchers:
    • Documents related to the receiving organization
    • Academic and professional qualifications
  • For instructors or teachers:
    • Documents related to the receiving organization
    • Academic qualifications or an educational license.
  • For intra-company transferees: Documents attesting to the relationship between the two offices/companies.
  • Any additional documents that the Japanese Embassy or Consulate requests, depending on your profession

Note:

  • Before you apply for the Japan Work Visa, you have to send most of the documents to your employer or sponsor on Japan so they can apply for the Certificate of Eligibility at the Immigration Services there.
  • This is not an exhaustive list of documents and the Immigration Service in Japan as well as the Japanese Embassy or Consulate reserve the right to request any documents as they see fit.

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