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 or extend VISA, to change the status, such as working visas and spouse visas etc..

In this article, I will tell you when you should apply a status of residence (visa) as a “Spouse of Japanese” if you are planning to marry Japanese national.

When should you apply for status of residence ‘Spouse of Japanese’ ?

~”Official marriage procedures” first? Or ‘application for status of residence’ first?~

As a general rule, the official marriage procedure should be completed first, followed by the application for status of residence. This order cannot be reversed. It is not possible to apply for status of residence as a ‘spouse of a Japanese’ if you are in a relationship but have not yet entered the family register, if you are in a de facto marriage or if you are only engaged. Among the documents required when applying for ‘Spouse or Child of Japanese’ status,

Marriage certificate of the foreign spouse from his/her country of origin,

A copy of the family register of the Japanese spouse (with the foreign spouse’s name on it),

These documents must be submitted to the immigration office when you apply the status of residence. In addition, certificates from the home country must be translated into Japanese if they are written in a language other than English. In other words, unless a formal marriage has taken place in Japan and in the foreign spouse’s country of origin, and the marriage has been legally formalized, it will not be recorded on an official marriage certificate or in the family register, so the marriage (enrollment) procedure must first be completed. No matter how long the period of life, it is not possible to acquire the status of ‘spouse of Japanese’ if the marriage is a de facto marriage or a common-law marriage.

Order of official marriage procedures.

 ~First in Japan? Or “foreign spouse’s home country” first?~

Should official marriage procedures be done “in Japan first?” Or should it be done in the spouse’s country of origin first? There is no correct answer as to which is better, and both parties can do them in any order that is convenient and easy for them to do. Generally, if both spouses are already living in Japan, it is easier and more convenient to first carry out marriage procedures in Japan and then carry out marriage procedures in the foreign spouse’s country of origin. On the other hand, if the foreign spouse is not yet in Japan and is about to be invited to Japan on the occasion of marriage, some people choose to carry out official marriage procedures in the foreign spouse’s country of origin first, and then carry out the procedures in Japan. As for official marriage procedures, the documents and procedures differ from country to country, so we usually provide individual counselling and research each case individually.

How do I apply for ‘Spouse or Child of Japanese National’ status?

After official marriage procedures have been completed in both countries and the marriage has taken place, an application for ‘Spouse or Child of Japanese National’ status of residence should be made. How should this application procedure be carried out?   

If the foreign spouse lives abroad

If the foreign spouse lives abroad, apply for a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’, obtain a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’ and send it to the foreign spouse’s home country. The foreign spouse then applies for a ‘visa’ to enter Japan at the Japanese embassy or consulate in their home country. Once the ‘visa’ is issued, the foreign spouse can finally travel to and enter Japan. Therefore, if you want to live together in Japan as soon as possible, you need to apply as soon as possible. Please note that certificates of eligibility have a fixed period of validity. It becomes invalid if you do not enter Japan within three months of the date of issue. Therefore, once it has been issued, it should be sent to the foreign spouse as soon as possible to apply for a visa.

If the foreign spouse is already living in Japan

If the foreign spouse is already living in Japan, the application must be completed before the expiry of the current status of residence. If the current status of residence expires even one day after the expiry date, the status of residence will cease to exist. In other words, overstay = illegal stay, and you may be subject to a departure order or deportation. Once you have been ordered to leave the country, you will not be able to re-enter Japan for at least one year. It is recommended that you complete your application to the Immigration Bureau as early as possible. If possible, it is best to complete the application at least two months before the expiry date of your current status of residence. Furthermore, it is recommended to complete the application procedure as early as possible for people with a history of divorce, people with a difference in age between husband and wife, people with a history of overstay or other problems with their status of residence, etc., for whom the Immigration office takes time to examine their application and often requires additional documents and explanations after the application has been submitted.

Even if the application is made just before the expiry date of the current status of residence and the examination result is not available by the deadline, the current status of residence will be extended until ‘until the result of the examination’ or ‘two months from the date of application’, whichever is earlier. This measure ensures that if your application is accepted, you will not immediately overstay. However, if your application is not approved this time, you will have limited time to prepare a re-application (recovery), which is very disadvantageous. For this reason, we recommend that you apply for ‘Spouse of Japanese’ status as soon as possible after completing the official marriage procedure.

In Conclusion

In order to obtain the status of “spouse or child of a Japanese national”, the first step is the official marriage procedure, followed by the application for status of residence. Which country you should first go through the official marriage procedure in depends on the circumstances of the couple. In some countries, it may be easier to complete the procedures in Japan first. The official marriage procedure differs from country to country in terms of the documents to be submitted and the order in which the procedures are carried out. In addition, the information that can be collected in Japan is limited. If you are unsure about the procedures, it is advisable to consult a professional in the field of status of residence and international marriage, such as an application handling administrative scrivener. Another advantage of obtaining ‘Spouse of Japanese’ status is that you will no longer be subject to restrictions on employment in your day-to-day life. Furthermore, it will also affect your later application for the status of “permanent residence” and the “application for naturalization” procedure to acquire Japanese nationality.

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 establishment of the company and status of residence ‘Management’, please feel free to contact us by phone or via the ‘Free Consultation Form’ on our website.