Forget H1-B: Japan just eased green card norms for skilled foreigners

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In a bid to attract global talent Japan has said it will soon introduce a new Green Card programme —billed as the fastest such system in the world — and expedite the granting of permanent residency to highly skilled professionals.

Come April, Japan will expedite issuance of green cards to highly skilled professionals in IT and other cutting edge fields from foreign countries, including India.

“It will now take just one-two years for skilled foreigners to get permanent residency in Japan as opposed to five years,” said Kazuya Nakajo, Chief Director General, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), at a press conference co-organised with industry body CII on Tuesday. Nakajo said the relaxation of the Green Card system and of visa requirement was part of the country’s three-pronged strategy to improve the environment for foreign companies.

A spokesperson for JETRO told PTI that the new system will be introduced from April.

He said the new type of Japanese visa system entails fastest issuance for talented and highly skilled individuals, including IT personnel. Under the proposed system, individuals having a valid visa residing and working in Japan can apply for a green card after 1-2 years, from 5-6 years earlier.

The move will expedite permanent residency for highly skilled foreign professionals as they can apply for a green card as soon as after a year.

According to the present Japanese immigration control system introduced in 2012, foreign workers are graded by points based on aspects like occupation, income and academic background. Individuals who score 70 points or more are recognised as “highly skilled professionals” and granted permanent residency in five years at the earliest.

JETRO officials are here to participate in the Invest Japan Symposium organised in collaboration with CII and attract Indian companies’ investments to Japan under the Invest Japan initiative.

The Invest Japan programme offers consulting, information and facilities to Indian companies who are looking to explore Japan as an investment destination. Japan welcomes investment in areas like IT, pharma, auto and tourism, among others.

Urging Indian firms to invest in Japan, Maeda said that while investments from Japan to India stood at Rs 955.98 billion up to 2015, those from India to Japan were a paltry Rs 5.02 billion.

He said that Japan is keen on attracting investments from Indian companies, especially in the pharmaceutical and ICT sectors.