Up until now, applying for permanent residency in Japan was a lengthy process and only an option if you’d been living in the country for 10 years. But Japan’s Ministry of Justice has just announced new rules, which could see highly skilled foreigners being fast-tracked through the process after just one year.

If you’ve read our article on “Getting Permanent Residency in Japan,” you’ll be familiar with the rules up to this point. In the past, while there were some cases in which you might have become eligible for permanent residency (PR) after less than ten years, these were generally limited to those married to a Japanese national, or those who had “made substantial social, economic, cultural or diplomatic contributions to Japan.”

In 2012, the Points-based System for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals was introduced, which shortened the waiting period to five years for skilled applicants who fall into three categories: advanced academic research activities, advanced specialized or technical activities, and advanced business management activities.

This week the Ministry announced its plan to further shorten the waiting period in order to attract and retain more highly skilled workers from abroad. The new rules will become effective in March 2017, and will mean that skilled applicants, who fall into the above-mentioned categories and who score over 70 points can apply for PR after three years, while those who score over 80 points can apply after just one year of living in Japan. The criteria used on the immigration scorecard will also be expanded, giving applicants a better chance of adding up sufficient points.

According to an article in the Japan Times, “a total of 6,298 foreign nationals were certified as highly skilled professionals as of the end of October last year. Of them, about one-third are expected to be able to gain the status in a year under the new system.”

For more information on the points-based system, and to download a points calculation form, click here.

To read more about the current PR rules, click here.