Answered Anyone know a good immigration/visa lawyer or service in Okinawa?

Mr. James

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I was wondering if anyone has used an immigration and visa lawyer or service company in Okinawa.
I am looking to apply for a Japanese spouse visa.
The internet describes some difficulties and long procedures to do this on my own.
Usually, I want to do things like on my own, but in this case I wouldn't mind paying someone to double check things and make sure the application is good to go on the first submission.

If anyone has used this type of service before, please let me know.
Much appreciated.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Founding Member
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I am currently in Okinawa.
US passport, Japanese spouse.
Wife and kids are settled in Okinawa (registered, etc) and I was figuring out what to do with myself when covid hit.

I've been calling around to lawyer offices, but I have not been able to find an Immigration Service like we have in the US. There, the lawyers were tripping over themselves to help when we got my wife her green card. I don't seem to see as many such companies here.

So I'm wondering if anyone used a lawyer or service company here in Okinawa and could recommend.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
Coming from someone who had 3 or 4 spouse of a Japanese national visas, you do not need a lawyer.

If you are closer to Naha, get to this building here:

Naha District Immigration Office

Naha  Naha District Immigration Office

The Naha District Immigration office is the main immigration office in Okinawa.

There's also another detachment near where Kadena Circle was (past Gate 1 going north on Route 58).

You can call in and ask what documents are required and how much the application fee is. Then, for good measure because of coronavirus, ask whether they're accepting walk-ins or not. If it's open to all, bring the documents and cash necessary with your Japanese spouse.

They will have a 2 or 3-page form for you to fill out in English, usually done in front of an employee that can explain what a question means. After it's finished, they'll tell you to take it to the desk to pay. This is the odd process, at least at Naha: They don't accept cash. So, you need to go downstairs (Level 1) to the makeshift convenience store to pay the fee and get a "stamp" that you have to take back upstairs to put on your application.

Once you turn in your application, they'll stamp a piece of paper in your passport that you're good to go and awaiting a decision.

Ten to one, your decision will come in about 10 days, hopefully favorable.

At that time, get back to immigration to pick up your resident alien card and get a sticker in your passport. :)

The only reason that you would need a lawyer is to dispute a denial, which rarely ever happens and typically only in a case that they believe there's mischief (a fake marriage) or you are on the run from elsewhere.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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OK, great response, thanks. I was looking for input from someone experienced in this process and you seem so.

If I could ask, is your response that the visa will "come in about 10 days" based on getting the visa AFTER you already have the Certificate of Eligibility?
I still need to get that COE document. It seems like this is what takes some time and effort and may be worthwhile being checked by someone.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
If I could ask, is your response that the visa will "come in about 10 days" based on getting the visa AFTER you already have the Certificate of Eligibility?
This is the PDF of the Certificate of Eligibility. You can print it off at Family Mart or another convenience store and prefill it to save about 30 minutes there, but if you make an error or if it wrinkles, they're not too kind on scribbling out and rewriting things in or trying to flatten it, so you will have to redo it.

http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001290114.pdf

As such, it's best to just fill it in at the immigration office as it's not that long and there's someone there to assist you with a question you may have.

The CoE is the form you will fill out (and I forgot, attach a passport type photo that you can get for 1000 yen at any photo booth, usually located outside of all supermarkets) at Immigration and turn in.

Seen as #12 on the list of visa purposes here.

Necessary documents:
  • Application form 1copy
  • Photo (4cm×3cm) 1copy
    • * A photo that shows the applicant pictured alone.
    • * The applicant should face squarely to the front and should remove any hats, caps or head coverings.
    • * There should be a plain background with no shadows.
    • * The photo must be sharp and clear.
    • * The photo must have been taken within three months prior to submission.
  • A return-mail envelope affixed with stamp(s) worth 404 yen (for the recorded delivery purpose)
  • The supporting documents to be submitted on the occasion of application are shown in Table 3 1 copy
    (As applicant sometimes needs to submit document material(s) other than stipulated in the Immigration Control Act Enforcement Regulations, please refer to your regional immigration office or immigration information center.)
  • A document that proves the status (if a legal representative or agent submits the application form on behalf of the applicant)
  • In principle, documents and materials which have been submitted will Not be returned to you. If you have submitted any original copies of documents and materials, which would be difficult for you to re-obtain, and would like to have them returned to you, please notify us when you file your application.
Reference: Application for Certificate of Eligibility | Immigration Bureau of Japan Website

Though the necessary documents are listed on the site above, I would still call in to ensure that you have everything so you can make only one visit as opposed to more than necessary (filing out the CoE and turning it in and picking up of the resident card at a later date). Also, due to coronavirus as previously mentioned, they may not be taking walk-ins and you may need an appointment; or, an appointment to just extend your visa as is until they can get to you so that you're legally here until you can apply.

I thought the application (CoE) cost, but I suppose I was wrong. You fill out your CoE and hand in the required documents there.

Once approved, in my case usually within 10-days, they will send you a post card in the mail to go get your resident card from the office that you applied at. That's when you pay the fee with the amount owed written on the postcard (from memory, it was no more than 7000 yen, but bring more cash just in case).

Japan is a whole different world from the US when it comes to immigration. A spouse of a Japanese visa is essentially like a green card, for as long as you're married (you cannot break away from a marriage and stay here like you can in the US with a green card), and is the quickest way of obtaining legal status to live and work in Japan for 1-3 years (some get 1 year at first, others like me got 3 years).

Closer to the expiration of your visa, it's just filing an extension instead, which is even quicker.

Neither a spouse of a Japanese visa nor a permanent resident application needs an immigration lawyer unless you're denied, which won't happen if it's not a sham marriage or they find discrepancies and/or lies.

You will be surprised how quick and painless it is to get—as opposed to, in my case, the months it would take my wife to get a green card in the States, not to mention the $10,000 in lawyer fees—and get once you make the call and take the visit to apply. :)

For what it's worth, in order to not prove it's a sham marriage, they looked at photos of my wife and I the first time I applied (it's suggested to bring portraits, pictures out and about, etc. to be prepared for this 'unnecessary' documentation).

(I don't even have to wish you good luck, except good luck not getting road rage in this traffic getting there 🤣)
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Founding Member
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OK, you've convinced me to apply without lawyer.

Well, your response did as well as the lawyer telling me they would charge 30,000 yen an hour (without a maximum fee specified!).

For the sake of others that may need to know the process, I'll try to post updates here as I go through the process.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
For the sake of others that may need to know the process, I'll try to post updates here as I go through the process.
Great!

If you would, after you see how easy it is, make a new thread of it in Everything Okinawa and reply in the process as you go through with it, i.e., the initial post "turned in CoE" and a reply "postcard arrived", etc., so that we can find out a typical time to process (even during a pandemic).

We've been meaning to make a blog post about the process for some time now, as it is that simple, and we may use some of your content (with your permission) on the precise steps taken as it literally is a 30-45 minute "detour" for the day, once all documents are in hand.

However, many people like you, as did I at one time, thought it would be more difficult as we have a view on the opposite spectrum of getting a Japanese citizen a green card/visa in the United States with the need of a lawyer and applying that train of thought here in Japan.
 

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