Permanent residency & Naturalization in Japan

Permanent residency & Naturalization in Japan

- by Yogendra Puranik ‘Yogi’ on 11-Jan-2020, Modified on 20-Nov-2022

I have seen people leaving Japan for as simple reason as being unable to talk on phone in the Japanese trains. There are many such reasons for which people tend to leave Japan.

The usual reasons for people leaving Japan are

  • Education of kids and their future
  • Taking care of old or ailing parents
  • Discrimination at work or in day-to-day life
  • Better work opportunities in India or overseas
  • Marriage, in case of singles
  • Health reasons

Usually after a stay of three years, people tend to decide whether to continue living in Japan or think of a different destination or go back to India. And after living in Japan for ten plus years, people start thinking about living in Japan permanently. Not many Indians have chosen life-long kind of stays in Japan. However, such population is growing in recent years.

Long termers can take benefit of following visa categories.

    1.Permanent residence (PR) – for people living in Japan above 10 years. High skill visa owners can apply just after 3 years of stay in Japan after getting the high skill visa. Takes around one year for approval.
    2.Citizenship by naturalization – for people living in Japan above 5 years. Takes around one year for approval.
    3.Long term residence (LTR) – typically for special cases like a dependent living in Japan for long time and used to the life in Japan having lost the visa sponsor (the spouse). Not an easy visa to get.

Key benefit of PR is that, with PR you can keep your original nationality. You increase your credibility in terms of receiving loans etc., by having a PR. However, if you have to move out to overseas, you have to visit Japan once within a certain duration, to keep your PR valid.

With naturalization, you are required to renounce your original nationality. Advantages of naturalization are, higher credibility in terms of receiving loans, contracting for rental homes, possibility of not requiring a guarantor for your transactions etc. The society, your office colleagues, in general trust you more. The Japanese passport certainly receives more respect in global airports. I have personally experienced the differential treatments with my Indian and Japanese passports. You do not require visas for entering hundreds of countries.

LTR visa is special visas given in special conditions. With this visa type, a person can stay in Japan for longer or permanent duration. Please read the LTR section for details.

Permanent residency

For being eligible for a Permanent residency, you must have stayed in Japan for minimum of 10 years with a normal working visa or 3 years with a high skill visa. The application for permanent residence needs lots of supporting documents. The application is submitted to the immigration for a strict scrutiny thereafter. The application process is same as applying for Certificate of Eligibility. The documents required are (a) application form, (b) residence card and passport, (c) reason for applying (d) residence certificate for all family members, (e) employment certificate, (f) tax, health insurance and pension certificates for certain years, (g) bank balance certificate, (h) documents for property in Japan (optional), (i) documents proving social participation or awards. For dependent families, some more documents are required to be submitted. In addition, documents from guarantor are required. These include (a’) residence certificate, (b’) tax certificate, (c’) guarantee letter. Usually, it takes around a year until the declaration of result.

Citizenship by naturalization

The process of citizenship by naturalization is handled by the legal affairs bureau (houmukyoku) in the respective prefectures of Japan. Following is the process.

First interview: Call the legal affairs bureau in your city or prefecture, take an appointment and meet them for a basic interview. You will be asked to carry some documents, basically your identification proofs. At the end of this interview, if they believe that you could be an eligible candidate, they offer you a checklist of documents to be gathered for the next round.

Document collection: You collect the documents. These documents include but are not limited to, (a) your letter of intent (behind naturalization), (b) residence certificate and copies of all of your passports (current + old), (c) residence certificate, (d) your detail resume along with family details, (e) your academic and work-related certificates, (f) proofs of birth and marriage, proofs of your parent’s marriage or death, (g) some proofs about your siblings like birth certificates, (h) documents proving your relationships, family photographs, (i) list of your international travels (along with reason for each tour, and they will tell you where to get this list from), (j) proof of financial stability of yourself and family in overseas (documents for job, salary, returns filings, property, bank passbooks, properties in overseas, , your credit certificate etc.), and (k) map of area around your house and workplace (could be asked for past houses and workplaces). If you are doing a business in Japan, you will have to submit the company registration document, returns filing documents, BSPL sheets, business or shop license, other licenses as necessary and so on. Once you collect all the documents, call the legal affairs bureau and take appointment. They will check all your documents, and hand over the naturalization application form to you. Once you get this form, you have been considered eligible for naturalization. The documents that you gathered will be stamped and given back to you for the final submission later.

Translation of documents: You will have to translate all these documents into Japanese and attest the translation. In my case, I self-attested as I was JLPT N1. So, either you can self-attest or somebody eligible, like your friend, colleague or teacher, can attest.

Unavailability of documents: If you have problem in getting any document, you can discuss with your officer at the legal affairs bureau and they guide you with alternatives. They understand and consider that administrative services in different countries work differently.

Naturalization is easy: What I have found is that, naturalization is a much more welcoming process than the PR process, as Japan really wants good people to be their citizens. Also, the country has higher legal control on the naturalized citizens that the PRs.

Final submission: Duly fill the application form. If possible, get recommendation letters from people you know, possibly one from your office senior, one from your client and one from your social spheres. It is good to show your social participation. Once everything is ready, call the legal affairs bureau, take an appointment and visit them. They will go through the documents, and if everything is found okay, they will accept the same for internal processing. They will hand over a receipt with your case number.

Fees: There is no application fee for the naturalization process. My personal experience is that you do not need a lawyer unless you have too much money to waste. The legal affairs bureau officers support a lot.

Language test: A Japanese language test are required for the application process. The Japanese language test could be exempted in case you possess sufficient language certifications.

Home visit: After a few months, you will receive a call from the legal affairs bureau. They will visit your home to see your living standards. The date will be decided upon discussion with you. Keep your house clean. Talk to them in a friendly manner. You can offer them tea and snacks. They will enquire about your behavior with your building manager and may enquire with your neighbors. So, it is important that you keep healthy relations with your neighbors left, right, up and down.

Overseas enquiry: An enquiry will also be sent to the local police station around your home in India. Your criminal records will be checked. Any kind of criminal record or driving violations work negatively.

Final approval: Once all these stages are completed, your documents are sent to home ministry for approval. And once the documents are signed by the Home Minister, you are called to the legal affairs bureau when you are handed over the mibun shoumeisho (naturalization certificate). Please make multiple COLOR copies of this certificate. The final result is received within one year from the time of final submission of documents.

Registration: Within one month from the receipt of this naturalization certificate, take the original of the certificate and your residence card to your city office. The city office will take this original certificate and the residence card, and register you in their system as a Japanese citizen. They will then issue you a koseki touhon (domicile certificate).

Selection of nationality: Now translate the naturalization certificate and the koseki certificate and submit it along with nationality renunciation form to your embassy. The embassy will process the renunciation. The embassy will give you a copy of your application. The processing fee is quite high. When I applied it was 42,000 yen per person. The Japanese law offers you 2 years after the approval of naturalization to renounce your previous nationality. Indian citizens can apply for OCI (Original Citizen of Indian) card.

OCI card: OCI card offers equivalent economical and financial status as Indians except for two conditions. One, OCI cannot vote and cannot buy agricultural land. OCI can otherwise open bank accounts or insurance policies, hold or hire properties and investments in India. An OCI can enter India any number of times and stay in India for any duration.

Long term residency

Those who are married to Japanese national or their kids can get a ‘Spouse or child of Japanese national’ visa. The allowed period of stay can be six months to five years. A certificate of eligibility (COE) is issued by the regional immigration bureau. Then the visa is stamped based on this COE. The visa processing fees is not so expensive as compared to many European countries or Americas.

Aggrieved residents in Japan, for example a wife being harassed by her husband, parents are subject to deportation however teen kids were born and bought up in Japan, in case if their duration of stay in Japan was longer than 3 years, the wife in prior case and the kids in later case become eligible for receiving a LTR status and live independently in Japan. In such cases, the aggrieved dependents shall reach out to the city office for help.

All the best!

About the author

Yogi is Japan’s first ever Asian-origin assemblyman, first ever foreign-origin public school Principal and first even Indian-origin Gazetted officer. He is the President of All-Japan Association of Indians, and is highly involved in community work. Yogi has 20+ years of international work experience in information technology and banking. He has given hundreds of guest lectures in ministries, universities and corporations on various topics.

Disclaimer: The information mentioned here could be outdated. Please consider this article as a guidance and do refer to the latest information available on the internet etc.

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