Getting the Spouse of a Japanese Citizen visa

Mr. James

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As requested, I am making this post to document my attempt to get the Visa for the special case of being the spouse of a Japanese citizen.
My purpose is so that someone going through the process can reference this and hopefully it will be useful.
Probably some of the folks on this site would be interested in that topic.

The original discussion started as to whether I would need a lawyer to help with the process. The overwhelming recommendation was that a lawyer would not be necessary in the simple case of being married to a Japanese citizen. ((*This assumes there are no complications like legal problems, criminal history, refugee status, and those sorts of things. Anything out of the ordinary may require special assistance)).

David has given a lot of background and reference info in that original post, which is referenced here: Anyone know a good immigration/visa lawyer or service in Okinawa?.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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PRE-STEP (Step 0)

My first step was actually a pre-step. Probably, I should have done this before.

Due to Covid and travel restrictions, I am currently overstaying my 90-day "Temporary Visitor" tourist visa. The pre-step for my process is then to officially get a Temporary Visitor visa extension before applying for the Spouse Visa.

Back in May when I knew I would overstay the 90-day visa, I actually went to the Immigration office to address this. Instead of having do the extension at that time, they gave me a simple Form Letter that they said I should present to the immigration officers as I eventually exited the country. It seemed like a non-official sort of way, but the immigration officer in Kadena office told me that due to the virus, there were many people in my situation, and that it is generally understood why I overstayed.

However, that was the case in May. Since I now want the Spouse Visa, my 90-day visa will have to be officially extended.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 0 continued.

Extending my Temporary Visitor (tourist) visa was a simple enough process, however in my case my Japanese wife did most of the talking and was able to produce the required documents.
I can't attest to how simple it would be if someone does not have a Japanese spouse and needs to extend their tourist visa.

The Kadena Immigration office was actually quite empty. There was only 1 other person ahead of me, and only 1 other person arrived after me. This may be due to the fact that I came during the Obon holiday as well as the virus situation. However, I was pleasantly surprized about there being no wait.

The requirements to extend the Temporary Visitor visa were as follows. Please keep in mind, these may change. My wife was able to call the Immigration office ahead of our visit to make sure we brought the required documents:
- my passport (with Temporary Visitor visa inside).
- 4,000 yen duty stamp which can be purchased at a post office (probably other places as well).
- Print out of my airline cancellation email, which I had because of the virus travel restrictions.
- A Letter stating the reason for the overstay. (In my case it was a simple 2 sentence summary of the virus travel restrictions).
- Letter of Guarantee signed by my wife which we filled out at the office.
- Application of Extension of Period of Stay which I filled out at the office.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 0 continued.

Having supplied the above documents, the immigration office stamped my Temporary Visitor Visa as "cancelled" and put another visa right next to it. The extension is for 90 days, so I have already burned up some of those days since they back dated it to June when my original 90 days were up.

Overall, the process was fast and efficient and I left the office with my new visa in my passport (and myself back in "Official" status again).

Since my wife explained that I will be filing for Spouse Visa next, the immigration officers were very nice to sit down with us and go over the upcoming process. They were able to review all the documents I've collected so far and suggest a few more that I was not considering. I will post the results of my Spouse Visa visit after I go back again on Monday.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
They were able to review all the documents I've collected so far and suggest a few more that I was not considering.
Do you by chance know which documents they needed above the necessary ones? I know the 'unnecessary' documentation was a review of photos with my wife and me to conclude it wasn't a sham marriage; I am just wondering if anything else beyond this has added to the "un"-necessary documents during the application process.

Feel free to respond with those or please add them to your Monday update!
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 1 - Applying for the Spouse Visa

Overall, this step was relatively painless at the Kadena Immigration office. I will try to document what I was required to bring for my application, but please keep in mind that this may be different for each situation. Since I have been married 15+ years (with children), I didn't have to face the questions of a "sham" marriage, so my process may be different from someone that is very recently married.

Once again, the office was not very busy, probably due to the Covid situation. There were a few more people here than last time I came, but I was still seen right away without wait. That was a pleasant surprise.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 1 continued.

Please keep in mind, this was for my situation, and others may be different. I will attach a photo of the full list of requirements that I was handed, but I only needed to supply the highlighted items. I am guessing any of these documents can be requested depending on an applicant's individual situation.

The requirements for the Spouse of a Japanese Citizen visa (for me) were as follows.
- Application received and completed at the office. (note, this was not an application for Certificate of Eligibility which I thought I would need. It was a very similar looking form requiring much the same information, but not the COE that I found on the internet). Recommend to get this at the Immigration Office to ensure you will have the correct form.
- Passport with valid visa stamp inside. (will be returned).
- Photo of head/shoulders (important, it must be 40 mm x 30 mm, NOT US passport size).
- Letter of Guarantee signed by my wife.
- Copy of my wife's Family Registry (I believe this is called Koseki Tohon). This showed my name as her husband.
- Copy of my family's Residence Registration (I believe this is called Juminhyo). Because I am not a resident, my name was not on this document, but we needed to show my wife was.
- Copy of my wife's Resident Tax (I believe this is called Juminzei). This was difficult as she does not work, but had a small part time job, and that seemed to fulfill the requirement. I am not sure how this requirement could have been fulfilled without that part-time job she did for a brief time.
- Copy of our US marriage certificate. I brought the original just in case, but a copy was sufficient after they inspected the original.
- Current bank statement showing total amount deposited. I showed a US bank account (not Japanese bank), which seemed acceptable.
- Copy of email showing job offer in Japan which listed my future salary. (I don't have the job yet, this is why I am getting the visa. Even though I don't have the job yet, the offer letter seemed acceptable.).
- Previous W2 from 2019 from my job that I quit. (I'm not really sure why they requested this, as I quit that job in Sept 2019. Perhaps they just wanted to see my earning potential, even though I am not employed there anymore).
- Family photos of my wife and I together. (I supplied 6 photos, which actually proved to be the most difficult part. I have many pictures of our family, but since my wife or I were the photographer, I have hardly any of us together. I had to go way back to births, baptisms and family selfie shots on random tour buses).

Of note: There was NO FEE for this application.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 1 continued.

Here is the list of documents from the Immigration Office listing in the attached photos:
 

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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 1 continued.

I had collected all the above listed documents beforehand. The Immigration Officer stepped through each of the above documents with us, and then took them to the back for a more detailed review.
In about 15 minutes, he returned with my passport stamped with my application number immediately below my current Temporary Visitor visa. Also, there is an Application Receipt stapled into my passport with the verbal instructions of "Do not loose this" given to me.

The Immigration Officer told me that they will be calling me once results of my application are known. I believe I will then be able to go back to the Immigration Office and collect my Spouse of a Japanese Citizen visa. They told me it could take about 1 month before I get called. I will update when I get the call so that others can have an idea how long it may take.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
I know that everyone has varying results.
- Current bank statement showing total amount deposited. I showed a US bank account (not Japanese bank), which seemed acceptable.
However, I forgot this one. Luckily there was an international ATM nearby and I took out 10,000 yen which showed my remaining balance on the receipt—around 900,000 yen if I recall correctly. The receipt showing that was sufficient enough.

Thank you, again, for documenting your experience throughout the immigration process so people don't hunt out a lawyer first thing, as it is simple to do on your own.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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David,

It is my pleasure and I wanted to document this for others, as your advice saved me at least $1000 if I would have went the lawyer route.
I too have nightmares of the US green card system, so I thought it would be same here in Japan.
It seems very much more straightforward in Japan.
I can't stress, though, that my wife did most of the talking and I would have had more difficulty if it was just me.
Hopefully others can benefit from this.

I will update when I get the actual visa (hope I don't have to update about needing further documents or something that would slow down the visa!!!)
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 2: Picking up the Spouse of a Japanese Citizen visa

As requested, I am providing an update because the visa (residence card) has arrived. The card was actually available yesterday (August 26) but I picked it up today.

I turned in all forms on August 17 and it was available on Aug 26. That is a total of 8 working days, and 10 calendar days.

The only thing to add about requirements was that I needed to pay a 4,000 yen stamp duty (picked up at the post office). This surprised me as I thought there was no charge for the application. However, I quickly paid that to ensure getting the visa.

Needless to say, I am quite pleased with the straightforwardness of the process and speed with which it was executed.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 2- continued.

One more thing to add: Upon being issued the Visa (Residence Card), I was told that I have 14 days in which to register my residence at my local city hall. I duly went to the local city hall and went through the process there, which I will describe in the next posts as Step 3.
 

David

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Okinawa.Org Staff
Almost done, fairly pain free, and probably saved thousands without a lawyer.

Just remember when the time comes to renew it, it will be another 4000 yen (unless there's a price increase). It's definitely also a good time to ask if you qualify for permanent residency at that time, and if you do, renew it while concurrently applying for permanent residency.

If city hall doesn't explain the registration process of the card to you, in the off chance that your permanent resident changes, you will have to take yourself with the card (that must be on you at all times) on down to the nearest municipality city office or branch for them to update it—they do it in the system, but fairly certain they handwrite the new address on the back and return it to you.
 
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Mr. James

Mr. James

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Step 3: Register residency at local city hall

I did this the same day as I got my visa /residence card (which I believe is called Zairyu kado). Technically I had 14 days to complete this step but I wanted to complete it right away.

The trip to the local city hall actually took longer than at immigration. This was not due to some inherent inefficiency at the city hall (they worked just fine and efficiently), but rather to more people being here for various things. I definitely needed my Japanese speaking wife along with me as English is understandably limited in this office.

I had four stops to complete:

1) Get my name entered into the residency document at city hall. Previously only my wife and children completed this. I am now considered a resident of Japan. At the same time, this station stamped my new address onto the back on my residence card.

2) Get signed up for health insurance. I now have a new health insurance card that sits right next to my residence card.

3) Medical benefits explanation desk. This step didn't exactly enlighten me (or my wife didn't bother to explain to me what was discussed). I guess I still need to do more research to understand what this new health insurance card will do for me, and how much I will need to pay to contribute into the system.

4) Retirement fund desk. Happily, I was not required to make any contributions into the retirement system at this time because I have no current income. That will change soon as I can now accept a job in Japan. I likewise need to research more about what this retirement fund is, and how much I will have to contribute, if any.

I have completed the entire process in a very reasonable amount of time and cost.
Aside from the open questions about medical insurance and retirement fund, I am very pleased with this process.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
I would apply for permanent residency concurrently with renewing your spouse visa when the time comes.

You never know. :)

Obtaining permanent residency will allow you to be treated the same by banks as a Japanese citizen when you go to purchase a house, which I'm sure you might want to at some point unless you decide to move back to the States. We are currently in the process of looking and am glad, from stories I've heard, that I don't have to put 40% down in order to get a loan now.

Thanks for telling us your story though; I'm sure many in the future will find this very helpful as it hasn't changed one bit since I got my spouse visa in 2009!
 

island cyclist

Well-known member
Founding Member
It's my understanding for health insurance your premium is determined among your income. There is a Max that you can pay for your health insurance.
Currently I think it's right around $8,500 a year.
For general medical expenses is 30% that you have to pay at the time of service.
If for some reason you fall under some health certification type of law that will give you a certain benefit for a certain specialty of a health condition you may have it can go as low as 10% for hospital visit and for drug outpatient only for hospital visit and patient I don't know you'd have to really check on that.
 

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