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Visa & Immigration Procedure in Japan

Japan's new Immigration system from July 9, 2012

Resident Card replaces "Alien Registration Card"

Previously, you had your visa in your passport and it was necessary to update your Alien Registration Card at the city hall each time you renewed / changed your visa. From July 9, 2012, the Immigration office will issue Resident Card and consequently:

  • The only time you need to go to the city hall to update the Resident Card is when you change your address.
  • When you move, it is required to report the departure to the city hall of the place where you used to live, then also the arrival to the new city hall where you became resident.
  • All the other changes (employers and their address, name, marital status, etc.) need to be reported to the Immigration office (not to the city hall).
  • It was previously not compulsory to notify the change of employer to the Immigration office, 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 for not doing so. The notification however can be submitted by sending the document by post.
  • A Resident Card is issued at the airport (Narita, Haneda, Kansai or Nagoya) if you enter Japan with a Certificate of Eligibility, and the long term visa is issued at the Japanese Consulate overseas.
  • For those who are already resident in Japan, a Resident Card will be issued at the next visa renewal or change of visa status.
  • New Resident Card is issued each time you renew or change your visa status.
  • Your current Alien Registration Card is valid until the next visa renewal / change of status, so there is no rush to have the new Resident Card made.
  • It is possible to have your new Resident Card issued at the Immigration office if you wish after July 9.
  • For Permanent Residents, your current Alien Registration Card is valid until July 8, 2015. You will need to go to the nearest Immigration office to have a new Resident Card made before then.
  • A Resident Card is not issued to those with a tourist visa or any other type of visa that is valid for 3 months or less.
  • Previously the Japanese nationals and foreigners had different systems of recording residency. With the change in law, foreigners are also registered under the same system with Japanese and it is therefore possible for foreigners to appear in the same Japanese resident certificate (juminhyo) as that of Japanese spouse and children. The foreign residents can also become the head of household of the family with Japanese spouse and children.

Re-entry permit system changes

It is no longer required after July 9th, 2012 to have a re-entry permit if you will be back in Japan within 12 months.

If you are likely to be away from Japan for more than one year, you will still need to get a re-entry permit.

Also, if your visa is valid for 3 months or less (meaning that you don't have a Resident Card), it is still required to get a re-entry permit if you would like to come back to Japan without having the visa cancelled.

If you leave Japan without having a re-entry permit, it is not possible to get a re-entry permit or extend the period of "re-entry permit exemption" at the Japanese Consulate overseas.

Introduction of 5 Year visa

Possibility of visa revocation

"Spouse of Japanese National" visa and "Spouse of Permanent Resident" visa holders were previously allowed to stay in Japan until the visa expires even after a divorce.

However, the new law stipulates that Immigration may revoke the visa if the person is not doing the activities that the visa holder is supposed be doing under the given visa category for 6 months or more.

In fact, even before the law changed, the work visa holders could have the visa revoked if the person is not doing the activities that the visa holder is supposed be doing under the given visa category for 3 months or more.

This rule wasn't rigorously applied, and those who were unemployed for more than 3 months generally didn't have any problem renewing the visa.

It is not certain to what extent the Immigration will apply this rule, but with the introduction of the new Resident Card system, where it is obligatory to notify the change of employment status or marital status (for those with Dependent, Spouse of Japanese National and Spouse of Permanent Resident visa holders) within 14 days, there is a possibility that this visa revocation policy will be applied more strictly than before.

For more detail, you can also consult the following websites:

>> Immigration's website

>> Brochure on the resident registrtaion system

Preferential treatment for highly skilled foreign professionals

This has already been introduced from May 2012 in order to attract highly skilled foreign nationals who are likely to contribute to the Japanese economy.

Points are given according to the applicant's educational and professional background, income, and academic achievement, and if you accumulate 70 points or more in the point evaluation, a special visa status is given which includes the following preferential treatment:

  • Possibility of engaging in multiple activities that cover different visa categories
  • 5 year visa granted
  • Permanent resident visa after 5 years residency in Japan
  • Preferential processing of Immigration procedure
  • Your spouse can also work
  • Possibility of bringing your parents to Japan
  • Possibility of hiring a domestic servant

To give you an idea of the points you can get:

  • 30 points for a Doctor's degree, 20 points for a Master's degree.
  • 5-25 points depending on your professional experience
  • 10-50 points depending on the amount of your income that you earn from the Japanese employers
  • 5-15 points depending on your age (the younger the better)
  • 10 points depending on your Japanese language ability
  • For more detail, please refer to the Immigration's website.

    >> Ask for personalized advice

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