Japan is a non-immigrant country. This means that unlike the US, no body can obtain a permanent visa at the time of entry to Japan. You always have to enter Japan with a non-immigrant visa, even though you get married to a Japanese national.
While you are staying in Japan, you have determined to live in Japan for good. Unlike US visa, for example, technically, you can extend your visa for ever. This means you can live in Japan for good.
However, you may feel making an extension application at the immigration office is very annoying. You surely want a permanent visa status. How can you get one?
First of all, check if you have any criminal records. Small traffic law violations do not affect your permanent visa application.
Next. Check your visa. You need to have a 3-year or longer visa.
Third. Check how long you are in Japan. Generally, you need to stay in Japan for at least 10 years to be eligible to apply for permanent. Look at your alien registration card and see your date of landing. If ten years has already passed since then and that you have 3-year or longer visa satus, you can apply for permanent.
You may say 10 years is quite long. There is some exceptions for 10-year-of-stay requirement.
- 1) Spouse to a Japanese National or Permanent Resident
If your wife is a Japanese or a permanent resident, you need to have 3 year stable marriage life and 1 year stay in Japan. Type of visa is no concern. Even if you have a working type visa status (engineer, for example), you can directly apply for permanent resident without changing your status to spouse type if you clear these requirements.
- 2) Long-Term Resident
If your status is long-term resident, you just need to live in Japan for 5 years.
- 3) Contribution to Japanese Sociaety
If you can prove you have greatly contributed to Japan, you just need to live in Japan for 5 years, rather than 10 years. However, this contribution requirement is really tough to clear.
Now, how to apply for permanent resident status.
First of all, get the application form here. And fill out the form.
Then collect supporting documents.
- 1) Certificate of family relation (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc)
If you are single, you do not need any, of course.
- 2) Residence related certificate of all the family
You need address registration certificate (juminhyo) from the city hall for all of your family members.
- 3) Work related certificate
You need your employment certificate. If you run a company, you need your company's registration certificate. If you are dependent, you need your supponsor's work related certificate.
- 4) Copy of your bank book
As proof of your assets.
- 5) Tax related certificates
You need to collect your income certificate (kazei shomei sho) and tax payment certificate (nozei shomei sho) from the city hall for 3 years. If you are spouse to Japanese national, one year certificate is enough.
Next. Find a guarantor.
In general, Japanese or permanet resident can only be a guarantor. If your spouse is a Japanese, he/she can, of course, be a gurantor. The guarnator has no legal binding obligations in related to permanent visa application.
The documents to be collected from the guarantor are;
- 1) Letter of Gurantee (You can download from here
- 2) Work Related Documents
Employment certificate or other similar document. If the guarantor doesn't work, this document is not necessary.
- 3) Income Related Documents
If the guarantor has no income, this document is not necessary.
- 4) Address registration certificate (juminhyo)
If you have everything with you, go to the immigration offce. You have to go to the immigration office that has the jurisdiction on your address. Please see here for location of immigration offices.
Do not forget to bring your application forms, supporting documents, residence card (Alien registration card is also considered residence card), health insurance card and passport.
Please note that your photo (3cm x 4cm) taken within 3 months is attached on the application form. When your application is accepted, you will be asked to write your mailing address on the post card given at the immigration counter.
Wait for the result. You will receive the post card when the examination is finished. It normally takes 6 months to 1 year. It is a long process.
Be careful not to forget to extend your current visa. Unlike the normal visa change, permanent visa application has no effect of your current visa status. When your current visa is going to expire, you need to apply for extension. If you fail to extend your visa status, your permanent visa application will end in refusal.
Finally, you receive your post card. Go to the immigration office with your passport, residence card, post card you receive and 8,000 yen to buy a revenue stamp.