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There are approximately 2,5 million foreign residents living in Japan, out of whom the four main countries of origin are China, Korea, Philippines and Brazil.
Registered foreign residents in Japan by origin
Gyoseishoshi lawyers are Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialists qualified by the Government of Japan and certified as Immigration Lawyers by the Immigration Office to proceed to visa and status of residence application on behalf of our clients. We are willing to help you with obtaining visas for Japan, proceeding to renewal or change of residence status and setting up business in Japan including all other related legal issues.
We are also legal specialists in international marriage/divorce and naturalization. We can offer you our attentive and professional service as the administrative procedures are somewhat complicated and time-consuming for those who do not have enough experience.
(1) Types of status of residence (Visa)
Foreigners wishing to stay in Japan are required to obtain a residence status (so-called "visa") which is most appropriate for the intended activities in Japan. There are 27 types of residence status in Japan and the requirements as well as the authorized activities are different for each of them.
Registered foreign residents categorized by the types of residence status
Basically, the types of residence status are classified in the following three categories;
(A) Working activity visa
(B) Non-working activity visa
(C) Family-related residence visa
(A) Working activity visa: with these, you are allowed to work legally in the specified field.
Main examples of this group are the following 3 types of residence status.
Other types of this group are the following.
Working visas only cover the kind of work that requires high level of professional knowledge or skills; therefore, there is no working visa for a simple, manual labor work such as a construction worker, a waitress, a salesclerk or a hairdresser.
(B) Non-working activity visa: with these, basically you are not allowed to work in Japan.
The main examples of this group are the following.
Under some of these non-working visas, however, some allow you to work under certain condition or you can work within the limited hours on condition that you obtain from the Immigration Office the "permission to engage in a non-authorized activity."
(C) Family-related residence visa: these visas are granted according to the family status.
These are the following 4 types of residence status. Under these visas, basically you are allowed to work without any restriction and you are free to change jobs.
(2) New Residency Management System effective July, 2012
Since July, 2012, a new Resident Card has replaced the old Alien Registration Card. At the arrival at major Japanese airport (Kansai, Narita, Haneda, Nagoya), you will receive a Resident Card at the immigration office if you have a Certificate of Eligibility and a long term visa (period exceeding 3 months) issued at a Japanese Consulate overseas. You don't receive a Resident Card only if you are a temporary visitor or with a visa valid for 3 months or less.
If you change your address, you must report to your municipality which will update your Resident Card and, in turn, will report the change to the Immigration Office on your behalf. If you change your job or marital status, you must report to your Regional Immigration Office directly. The new Resident Registration law requires that you report the change of employer to the Immigration Office within 14 days; otherwise you receive a penalty for lack of correct "certificate of authorized employment."
It was previously not compulsory to notify the change of employer to the Immigration office, as the application for the "certificate of authorized employment" was optional, not an obligation. With the introduction of the new law, it is required to report the change within 14 days and there is a penalty if you fail to comply with this regulation. The notification, however, can be submitted by sending the document by post.
As the new Resident Card shows your residence status, naturally your employer can see if you have an effective working visa. A new Resident Card is issued each time you renew or change your residence status. For most of the types of residence status, the maximum period of stay has been extended to 5 years, and you don't need to have a re-entry permit if you are coming back to Japan within 12 months. (You will need a re-entry permit if you are coming back in more than 12 months.)
With the introduction of the new Resident Registration system, the foreign residents are registered under the same residence record system as the Japanese citizens, thus making it possible for foreigners to appear in the same Japanese resident certificate (juminhyo) as that of Japanese spouse and children. The foreign residents can now become the head of household of the family with Japanese spouse and children.
If you have an Alien Registration Card, it is still valid until the next visa renewal. However, if you wish, you can have a new Resident Card issued at your Regional Immigration Office any time. If you travel abroad frequently, you don't need to ask for re-entry permit if you have a new Resident Card.
New Residency Management System homepage (Immigration Bureau of Japan)
(3) Visa exemption countries
If you are coming to Japan only for a short period of time and do not intend to work, you can apply for the "temporary visitor visa" (namely "tourist visa") directly at the Japanese Embassy / Consulate nearby.
However, citizens of the countries having visa exemption arrangements with Japan can arrive in Japan only with the passport without going through any procedure in advance. There are currently 61 countries with such agreement with Japan, and you are automatically given a temporary visitor visa (status of residence) at the Immigration Office of the airport of your arrival; the maximum period of stay is 90 days. Please see the following website if your country has such an agreement with Japan. http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html
(4) Preferential treatment for highly skilled professionals
This system was first introduced in May 2012 in order to attract highly skilled foreign nationals who are likely to contribute to Japanese economy. An applicant's educational and professional background, income, academic achievement, age, etc. are evaluated in points, and you need to reach 70 points to be qualified in this category with preferential treatment.
Visa processing time for this category has a priority; generally the time required will be less than half of the standard processing time. If you have this special visa, you will get a 5-year visa from the beginning, and, moreover, you are allowed to obtain a Permanent Resident visa after staying in Japan for only 5 years. Other benefits include that you can bring your parents to Japan, your spouse is allowed to work in Japan, you are allowed to have a housekeeper or a nanny from your country, etc. Since April 2015, this status of residence has been changed from "Designated Activities" to "Highly Skilled Professional."
The point system gives you the points as follows (in case of Type 1 Class B):
(a) 30 points for a Doctor's degree, 20 points for a Master's degree, 10 points for a Bachelor's degree
(b) 5-20 points depending on the professional experience (e.g. 10 points for 5 years, 20 points for 10 years)
(c) 10-40 points depending on the amount of your income (e.g. 30 points for 8 million yen, 40 points for 10 million yen)
(d) 5-15 points depending on the age (younger the more points, e.g. 15 points under 30 years old, 5 points under 39 years old)
(e) 15 points for holder of Japanese Proficiency Test N1 or equivalent
(f) 10 points for holder of Japanese university diploma
It is expected that 2,000 foreign nationals fall into this special visa status category every year with such residence status as Engineer, Researcher, Professor, Specialist in Humanities / International Services, Engineer and Executive / Business Manager.
There are 3 classes of Type 1; Class A for researcher/professors, Class B for engineer/specialist in humanity or international services, Class C for executive / business manager.
Highly skilled foreign professionals are classified in two categories; Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 corresponds to the conventional "highly skilled professionals" whereas Type 2 visa holder will be given an indefinite term of residence. Type 1 visa holders have the option of upgrading to a Type 2 visa after 3 years with Type 1. Once you are upgraded to Type 2, your period of stay becomes indefinite like a permanent resident, and you are free to change your work in Japan under this visa.
(5) International Marriage
When a foreign national is getting married with a Japanese national in Japan, you are required to meet the condition set by the law of your own country. The Embassy or Consulate of your country must prove that you comply with the requirement by providing a document called Affidavit of Competency to Marry (USA) , Certificate of No Impediment (UK, Australia, New Zealand), Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage (Philippines), Certificado de capacidad matrimonial (Spain or Spanish speaking countries), or Certificat de capacite a mariage (France), etc.
With this document, you have to visit your municipality to fill out a Registration of Marriage Form together with your passport, Resident Card and certificate of Family Registry of a Japanese national. Two witnesses must sign and stamp the Registration of Marriage Form. In order to declare your marriage in your own country, you simply present a certificate of marriage issued by your municipality to your country's Embassy or Consulate. When you want to change your visa status to Spouse of Japanese National, you need a certificate of marriage issued by your country's Embassy or Consulate.
(6) International Divorce
When a spouse of Japanese national is divorced, you lose the residence status of "Spouse/Child of Japanese National," therefore, you must report to the Immigration Office and apply for a change of residence status. It is eventually possible to change your spouse visa to a "Long Term Resident" visa if you have lived long enough in Japan (approximately 5 years) or if you have a child of Japanese nationality to raise in Japan. If you do not apply for a change of your residence status after divorce, the Immigration Office may revoke your spouse visa within 6 months from the divorce.
→List of immigration offices in Japan
We provide certification of passport, signature, residence, etc. When a spouse of Japanese national is divorced, you lose the residence status of "Spouse/Child of Japanese National," therefore, you must report to the Immigration Office and apply for a change of residence status. It is eventually possible to change your spouse visa to a "Long Term Resident" visa if you have lived long