On July 9, 2012, the new Japanese immigration laws and regulations will be enforced.
I will briefly explain the points of the new laws and regulations.
One of the carrots of the new immigration law is that the term of visa is extended from the maximum of 3 years to 5 years. BUT, do not get delighted too much.
Minimum working visa term is also shortened from 1 year to 3 months! In the worst case, your visa term will be only 3 months when you apply for 5 year visa extension.
Minimum term of Spouse Visa (Japanese spouse or permanent resident spouse) is also shorten from 1 year to 6 months.
This is another big carrot. From July 9, 2012 on, if you come back to Japan within one, you no longer need a re-entry permit. Only when you need to go out of Japan and stay for 1 year or longer, you should obtain a re-entry permit.
If you have valid re-entry permit, you opt to use it or not at the airport on or after July 9. Re-entry permit can be extended at the embassy for 1 year. But if you go out of Japan without using re-entry permit, you have no way to extend the period of 1 year to be back in Japan.
The immigration abolish the system of alien registration and introduce the system of Resident Card. Resident Card is issued by the immigration office for the foreigner with the visa status longer than 3 months (3 month visa is excluded). This means the Japanese government will not issue any official certificate if you have a temporary visa, 3 month or shorter visa, or without a valid visa.
If your visa is longer than 3 months, your current alien card deems to be a resdient card until your next extension or change status (or 3 years for permenent resident). If your visa is 3 months or shorter (such as temporary visitor), your alien card will be automatically invalid on July 9.
At the same time, if you have resident card, you will be able to obtain the same type of resident certificate (Juminhyo) as a Japanese resident.
From July 9, 2012 on, a foreigner can also obtain a residence card as a Japanese. For this reason, report of residence is rather severe.
First of all, a foreigner who newly comes to Japan must decides the residence within 90 days and report to the CITY HALL within 14 days after the decision. If you quit your residence, you must report to the city hall within 14 days.
Then you need to determine your new residence within 90 days and report to the CITY HALL within 14 days after you determine your new residence.
If you fail to decide and report your residence to the immigration office within 90 days, the immigration can CANCEL your visa and make you go out of Japan. Also, the residence you report must be the true one, not a tempory hotel, office address, or friend home address.
If you change your name, date of birth, nationality, or sex, you need to report the change to the IMMIGRATION office within 14 days. If you fail to do this, the immigration might fine you.
If you have a working visa such as "investor/business manger", "engineer", "specialist in Humanities/International Services", "Skilled Labor", "Intracompany Transferee", etc, you need to report to the IMMIGRATION office when you quit jobs or change jobs within 14 days. If you fail to do this, the immigration might fine you.
If you have "Dependent", "Spouse to a Japanese National" or "Spouse to a Permanent Resident", you need to report to the IMMIGRATION office when you get divorced or your spouse died within 14 days. If you fail to do this, the immigration might fine you.