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Visa & Immigration Procedure in Japan

Permanent Resident Visa

If you intend to stay in Japan for an extended period of time, you might consider applying for a Permanent Resident visa.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The benefits of the Permanent Resident visa are:

  • No restriction in the kind of activities you can engage in
  • No more visa renewal, the Permanent Resident visa is valid for life (although it is still necessary to renew the Residence Card and Re-entry Permit if you will be outside of Japan for more than one year)
  • Easier to get loans from Japanese banks

One possible downside of the Permanent Resident visa may be the tax implication for some.

Generally in Japan, the scope of taxation on income is defined by the number of years that one has resided in Japan, and is not linked to the specific type of visa held (in other words, changing over to the Permanent Resident visa does not directly change the tax classification that one falls under).

However, as your residency in Japan gets longer, it will be required to pay the income tax not only on your income in Japan, but also on your worldwide income.

Japan has recently introduced an “exit tax” on unrealized gains of certain financial assets valued at 100 million yen or more (in Japan or overseas), and while this tax generally does not apply to work visa holders, it will be imposed on holders of relationship-type visas (e.g. Permanent Resident, Spouse etc. of Japanese national visa, etc.) who have resided in Japan for a certain period of time when they leave Japan permanently.

It is therefore advised to consult a tax accountant in advance if you have a significant amount of overseas income or financial assets that may have tax implications.

Requirements to satisfy

The requirements that you need to satisfy for the Permanent Resident visa application are :

  • Good behavior and conduct (no criminal records, payment of taxes...)
  • Having sufficient assets or ability to make an independent living (stable job, enough savings...)
  • Satisfying all the requirements to maintain the current visa status (maintaining an appropriate job in case of a work visa holder, maintaining a stable marriage in case of a spoues visa holder for example)
  • 10 years of consecutive residence in Japan, which should include 5 years of residence under a work visa or those granted according to the family status (Spouse of Japanese national, Long Term Resident...)
  • Currently having the longest period of stay (3 years in most cases)
  • Havind paid taxes and contributions to the official Japanese social security system during the required period
  • Having a guarantor (Japanese national or permanent resident visa holder) to support the application
  • Having stayed in Japan physically for more than 6 months in total in a 12 months period prior to and during the application process

The requirement of the 10 year consecutive residency is shortened in the following cases:

  • Spouses of Japanese nationals and Permanent Residents having been married for more than 3 years and lived more than one year consecutively in Japan
  • children of Japanese nationals and Permanent Residents having lived more than one year consecutively in Japan
  • Holder of Long Term Resident visa or Refugee status having lived more than 5 years consecutively in Japan
  • Applicants who scores 70 points in this Point Calculation Table at the time of application and at all times during the most recent 3 years of residency leading up to the application
  • Applicants who scores 80 points in the said Table during the past one year of residency leading up to the application
  • More than 5 years of consecutive residency in Japan for those who have been recognized for having made a considerable contribution to Japan in diplomatic, social, economical and cultural fields.

It is necessary to provide with the resident tax certificates (kazei / nozei shomeisho to be obtaind at the local city hall/ward office) for the required number of years.

This means that if your income was low (due to unemployment etc.) in any year of the required period, the application is likely to be rejected.

Also the Immigration office tends to ask these days for the proof that you are enrolled in the health insurance scheme in Japan, the lack of which also leads to an unsuccessful application.

It is required to physically stay in Japan for more than 6 months in total during 12 months prior to the permanent resident visa application as well as while the application is being processed.

The application for Permanent Resident could take a very long time to be processed (4 to 8 months in general) and you still have to renew your current visa if it will expire before your Permanent Resident application is approved.

Role of a Guarantor

To be able to submit the application for the Permanent Resident visa, it is necessary to find a guarantor who is Japanese national or Permanent Resident visa holder (in case of non-Japanese) and who is willing to sign a Letter of Guarantee (English version here, Japanese version here).

The guarantor for the permanent residency application has only a moral obligation, and no legal obligation. Therefore, the guarantor will not be held legally responsible for any of the applicant’s actions or fees.

A guarantor is required to providew the following documents:

  • Letter of Guarantee, filled and signed (English version here, Japanese version here)
  • Certificate of residence (juminhyo) issued by the ward office / city hall within 3 months
  • Resident tax certificates (kazei shomeisho and nozei shomeisho) issued by the ward office / city hall
  • Certificate of Employment (zaishoku-shomeisho) issued by the guarantor's current employer, or other proof of occupation

After getting the Permant Resident visa

Once obtained, the Permanent Resident visa itself is valid for life, but it is necessary to renew the Residence Card every 7 years. This can be done on the spot at the Immigration office in Japan, but it is not possible to renew the card outside of Japan.

Also if you will be away from Japan for more than one year, it is necessary to obtain the Re-entry Permit at the Immigration office in advance, which will be valid for 5 years. It is necessary to renew the Re-entry Permit every 5 years at the Immigration office in Japan, otherwise your Permanent Resident visa will be automatically cancelled while you are outside of Japan.



Certified as Immigration Lawyers by the Japan Immigration Office, we can help you apply for the Permanent Resident visa.

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