What is the change? As Japan readies for the introduction of a new immigration law in April, authorities will begin implementing a few significant changes before then.

What does the change mean? This month, an online application system will begin accepting extension applications, re-entry permits and special permission for extra work permission; thereafter, the online system is expected to accept initial applications. Beginning April 1, immigration authorities will be more closely managing foreign employees’ stays, and employers should anticipate stricter enforcement measures.

  • Implementation time frame: March and April.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work-permit extension applications, re-entry permits and special permission for extra work permission.
  • Business impact: The online system is intended to streamline procedures. Employers should anticipate reforms in the immigration agency in April with greater monitoring and enforcement of foreign-worker registration and compliance with employee and employer obligations on social security.
  • Next steps: Employers should review their procedures and make sure that all foreign employees are properly registered.

Background: Japan’s new immigration law, passed in December, represents a historic shift in the country’s immigration framework. The law will establish two new visa types: Specific Skills categories 1 and 2. Specific Skills category 1 allows foreign workers with lower-level skills in designated industries to apply for five-year visas; they may not be joined by family members and are not eligible for residency. Specific Skills category 2 is for higher-skilled foreign workers in designated industries and allows them to apply for residence status. Thus far, the government has only designated two industries – construction and shipbuilding – as category 2.

Analysis & Comments: Employers and employees should plan to lodge applications for work permit extensions and re-entry permits online beginning in March and eventually for initial applications (applicants also have the option of lodging in paper form as now). With implementation of the new law starting April 1, employers should also anticipate greater enforcement, including registration procedures for all employees including those staying at hotels. Immigration officers have already begun checking employers to verify that their foreign employees are properly registered.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.