I’m Takashi Akeyama, a representative of the Niseko VISA & Immigration Support Centre. As the only administrative office in Hokkaido specializing in VISA & Immigration and tourism, we help foreigners living in Hokkaido, mainly in Niseko, Otaru and Sapporo areas, to apply new or extend VISA, to change the status, such as working visas and spouse visas etc..
Foreigners who are in Japan to study or work and wish to invite family members from their home country to live with them in Japan, obtain status of residence ‘family stay’. This status of residence is limited to “spouse and children”. In this article, I will explain the important points when you want to bring your children to Japan to live with you.
The children who can be invited under the status of residence ‘family stay’.
Not only biological children, but also formally adopted children and children who have been acknowledged after birth.
Is there an age limit?
Children only under the age 18 can be invited. It means that under Japanese law, minor children can be brought to Japan using this status of residence. This is because the status of residence ‘Family stay’ is granted on the condition that they are dependent on you. It is also possible for adults over 18 years of age to come to Japan with a status of residence other than family residence, such as study abroad or work-related status. Although the age limit for new applicants using the ‘family stay’ status of residence is under 18, there is no age limit for those renewing (extending) the status after arriving in Japan. However, if a parent loses their status of residence, their children and spouse will lose their family residence status, so many people who have lived in Japan for a certain length of time often apply for permanent residence or naturalization and get Japanese citizenship.
Why did you decide to bring your children to Japan at this time?
Why bring your children to Japan at this time, after having lived away from his or her parents in the home country? There must be a rational reason for it. Of course, there is the issue of feelings without reason, that it is better for parents and children to live together because they are parents and children. Let’s put that aside for the moment. The immigration officer needs to have objective reasons why it is better for you to live in Japan, such as a change in circumstances or situation that can be reasonably understood by the immigration officer. Without it, it may be difficult to grant your application. For example, when unavoidable circumstances arise, such as the parents who looked after the child in their home country have become ill or died and are no longer able to look after the child in their place. Another reason could be that the parents decided to raise the child in Japan from now on and wanted the child to be educated in Japan at the age when compulsory education begins. There is no doubt that the change of environment will have a significant impact on the child, as he or she will be living in a foreign country with a different language. Therefore, there should be a good reason for the decision to call in.
Education after coming to Japan
How will you educate your children, not only in Japanese, but in general? This is also something that needs to be considered. A child who has been brought up in a mother tongue environment will have to live in Japan, where not only the language but also the culture and customs are different. Of course, they can communicate with their parents at home in their mother tongue, but once they step outside, they have to speak in Japanese with the townspeople and their school friends. For this reason, the question of how to educate their children in Japan is not only a matter of concern for the parents who call them in, but also for the immigration officer. During the screening process, you may receive a letter requesting you to submit additional materials, asking you to explain your child’s education plan. The Japanese language skills required increase in difficulty as the child progresses from early primary schools to junior and senior high school, and it becomes more and more difficult for the child to keep up with his or her schoolwork. For children, it is also difficult for them to adapt to life in Japan as they get older. Because of this, it is said that the older the children get, the more difficult it becomes to obtain permission to bring them to Japan as a ‘family stay’ status of residence.
Can’t you use a student or working visa?
Children brought to Japan on a family stay may be thinking of attending a Japanese language school or university after arriving in Japan. Alternatively, if the child is close to graduating from high school, some parents may be thinking of having the child work in Japan. Why a ‘family stay’? Wouldn’t a “student” or “work” visa be better? It may be sometimes asked by immigration officer. These suspicions are particularly acute when they are in their late teens and are old enough to attend Japanese language school or university or to find a job. Even if the real reason is that “I want them to live with me and help with the family business, so a family stay is fine”, it is not possible to tell them this as it is. This status of residence, the purpose is not working or studying, so it is necessary to provide a reasonable reason why the applicant must be a ‘family resident’.
In this article, I’v explained important points about when you bring your child to Japan under the status of residence “Family stay”.
1) Why are you bringing your child to Japan at this time?
2) How will you educate your children after they come to Japan?
You need to think about these two things carefully. As children get older, it becomes more difficult for them to adapt to Japanese society, and the difficulty of obtaining this status of residence also increases with the age of the child. If circumstances permit, it is better to bring your children to Japan when they are as young as possible, not only because of the difficulty of the application process, but also because it is easier for them to adjust to life in Japan after arriving.
The Niseko VISA & Immigration Support Centre help and support foreign nationals who are trying to overcome language, cultural and custom barriers and live as a member of Japanese society. If you have any questions or enquiries about this article, or about the status of residence ‘family stay’, please feel free to contact us by phone or via the ‘Free Consultation Form’ on our website.