Getting a Japanese spouse visa
Getting married in Japan is a relatively easy process, provided that you have all your documents in order. However obtaining a resident status is a totally different story.
The term you are all looking for is a “Spouse of a Japanese National”, called 日本人の配偶者 (Nihonjin no Haigūsha) in Japanese. Hence the term “haigusha visa”, that is often used among expats, residing here in Japan.
The problem is that unlike other countries (members of the European Union for instance), Japan has a rather strict set of laws concerning obtaining various resident statuses in Japan.
Getting a spouse visa is not an exemption, unfortunately.
Please remembeer, that the fact that you married a Japanese national does not automatically you any additional rights, when it comes to moving to Japan. Therefore, unless you have a different resident status (as a student or as a worker) and you are planning on residing in Japan legally, you must obtain a special document before applying for the haigusha visa.
The name of the document is Certificate of Eligibilty or CoE in short. The Japanese equivalent is 在留資格認定証明書 (zairyū shikaku nintei shōmeisho).
The document is quite infamous for being rather hard to obtain. However this is the most important document you have to present, when applying for a spouse visa at a Japanese consulate in your home country.
Please be advised, that It will usually take around 1-3 months after applying for the document in Japan.
Even though the Japanese immigration Bureau (or now oficially Immigration Services Agency of Japan — 出入国在留管理庁) does share some information regarding the said document in English, but frankly speaking it’s not very precise. It gives you a false impression, that they can accept various documents, which is far from being true. They are looking for a precise set of documents.
If you are not sure about the whole process our just lack time, please contact our legal team. We will guide you through the process.
At first you will need to fill in the application form. You may find one on the official website of the Immigration Bureau.
You will have to take a picture. Standard size (4cm x 3cm). The picture should be clear, please do not cover your face or head. Write your name on the back and paste it unto the application form.
Remember the picture should be taken within 6 months before applying for the CoE. We also strongly discourage you from printing it at home, visit a professional photo studio.
Submit a return-mail envelope with a ¥404 stamp for registered mail. Please clearly write your return address on the envelope and remember that it should be domestic post, the japanese authorities won’t send papers to a foreign country, where you may currently resign.
If you and your Japanese spouse do not currently reside in Japan, you may write your spouse’s parents’ addrees, as they can submit all the necessary papers on your behalf. Once the authorities have issued the CEO it will be delivered to your spouse’s parents instead.
Next you must prepare and submit a copy of your Japanese spouse’s family register 戸籍謄本 (koseki tohōn). If your marriage is not recorded in the national family register, you will to submit a Certificate of Acceptance of Application for Marriage — 婚姻届出受理証明書 (kon’in todoke juri shōmeisho).
Both documents must be issued within 3 months prior to apllying for a Certificate of Elibility. Any older documents will not be accepted by the authorities.
If it’s your spouses parents, who submit all the documents mentioned here, you will have to proof the relation between the spouse and his/her parents.
The next document is your spouse’s residence registration certificate — 住民票 (jūminhyō), confirming the spouse’s domicile, showing all family members (世帯全員 — setai zen’in).
It will be harder if your spouse does not currently reside in Japan. If that is the case, you will have to find a sponsor, who can submit his or her certificate for the CoE application. But of course it can be your spouse’s parents, who reside in Japan.
By submitting the following document — 納税証明書 (nōzei shōmeisho) you will certify the profession and the amount of taxable income and resident tax. If the certificate does not show both the amount of tax and the amount of payment received you will need to submit a separate certificate of taxation — 課税証明書 (kazei shōmeisho). It specifies your spouse’s taxable income and the amoubt of resident tax.
The certificate is issued by the local city hall that has jurisdiction over your spouse’s domicile.
All the aforementioned documents must be issued within 3 months of application.
If you both do not have a stable source of income in Japan or if your spouse cannot prove the source of income, you will have to find a sponse, who can sustain your living. Once again, it may be your japanese spouse’s parents.
Be advise, that the sponsor will have to submit the aforementioned nōzei shōmeisho / kazei shōmeisho, to prove his income in Japan.
The last but not least is the letter of guarantee kazei 身元保証書 (mimoto hoshōsho) written by your spouse, residing in Japan. If once again this is not the case, and you do not have a registered address of residence in Japan, the sponsor we mentioned above should write this letter.
Certificate of Eligiblity: things to remember
It is obviously way better if your spouse finds a job in Japan beforehand if possible, so that the authorities have fewer reasons to question your marriage. Please remember, once again, the current Japanese law tends to be rather strict.
If you were married abroad and did not notify the Japanese authorities, i.e. you are not legally married under the Japanese Law, your marriage will not mentioned in your spouse’s family register.
You would have to submit your wedding certificate obtained abroad (with a Japanese translation, howeve being translated by a sworn translator is not necessary).
If it is issued in English, we at Japan-Law-Tax can translate the document on your behalf.
If you come from a country that has a family register system similar to Japan, you will have to provide a certified copy of the said reigster.
While not being a document, you will have to submit the so-called written inquiry — 質問書 (shitsumon sho). All types of questions will pop up concerning the time of your first meeting, the language you use, the reasons for being married, times you visited Japan (if you reside abroad).
Please do understand, that the immigration workers have a lot of experience dealing with international marriages, including fake ones. Should you make a false statement in this document and they find out, they will reject your application and update your record, sharing this information with other immigration offices — and you will not be able to delete such a record.
Due to the unfornature circumstance of dealing with fake marriages related to the infamous yakuza groups in Japan, the Immigration bureau has become quite harsh and strict.
If you do not currently have a job in Japan or do not live with your spouse together, here in Japan or abroad, the immigration officer may question your marriage. Especially if there’s a huge age difference or perhaps you do not speak the same language.
In order to prove that your marriage is not a fake marriage (or a sham marriage), you will have to proof that in details by providing all sorts of evidence possible: emails, pictures of you as a couple, love letters etc.
Even though it may seem as a violation or invasion of privacy, there’s little you can do in this situation.
Applying for a spouse visa
If you have successfully received your Certificate of Eligibilty — the hard part is over. Getting your visa is a rather simple process compared to getting your CoE.
One thing you should remember — check the validity of your Certificate. It should be 3 mobts from the date of issue of the document. You have to land in Japan before the CoE expires, unless you wanna go through the whole process again.
It will usually take a week or two, depending on the country to issue a spouse visa, so rest assured it won’t take long. They will not ask for any additional documents to confirm your marriage as long as your CoE is in order.
- Certificate of Eligibility;
- Your (valid) passport;
- Your picture (5cm x 5cm);
- Application (usually found on your country’s Japanese embassy’s website);
- Visa fees, paid in your local currency (usually the equivalent of ¥3000).
Some people are concerned regarding the visa being multiple- or single-entry Visa. That is actually not important in this case.
Once you have landed in Japan you can obtain your residence card. In fact, Narita, Haneda and Kansai airports can issue residence cards right on the spot. You can use it, along with re-entry permits to leave and come back to Japan legally.
Should you have question or are in need in legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.