How to obtain permanent residence for international professionals in Japan?
There are two ways for a foreign residents to obtain a legality to live in Japan permanently: Naturalization and applying for permanent residence permit (or usually abbreviated as PR).
Naturalization is to acquire Japanese citizenship. Some people have dual nationality, but in Japan there is only one nationality. So, if you are naturalized, any other nationalities will no longer be valid and you will be considered legally Japanese. If a naturalized non-Japanese person gets married and has a child, the child will also have Japanese nationality. As with permanent residence, there is no requirement for re-applying for a visa, and a person who has been naturalized can have the right to vote or take a Japanese name. You can also apply for a passport in Japan.
This time, let's talk more in depth about the process and requirements to obtain permanent residency in Japan.
1. Conditions for foreigners to apply for permanent residence
There are various conditions foreigners should adhere to when applying for permanent residence.
- Live in Japan for over 10 years
In order to apply for a permanent residence status, you must, as a rule, stay in Japan continuously for 10 years. If your visa expires and you return to your home country, and later get a visa again, this will not be considered as a continuation.
- Work in Japan for over 5 years
You must be working on a work visa for five of the ten consecutive years. The study visa is for three years, but can be continued for 10 years, so this will leave ample time for work. However, you should be careful as the short-term, limited work with study abroad visa and family stay visa is not included.
- The current visa must have been valid for 3 years or more
At the time of applying for permanent residence, the visa must be long-term. Some visas have a maximum duration of 5 years, but you can apply if you have 3 years.
- Good behavior
One important condition for obtaining permanent residence is living without violating Japanese law. Your examination will consider whether you have broken the law, remained in the country illegally, or paid taxes properly.
- Your circumstances must be stable
It will be checked that you have income and assets sufficient to stay in Japan in the long term. You will have to provide information of your economic growth including savings in you bank accounts (preferably Japanese banks), if it is determined that your financial life will be stable in the future, you will be able to remain indefinitely. Therefore, it may be difficult for those receiving welfare support.
There are some cases where permanent residence can be applied even if you have not lived in Japan for 10 years. The eligibility for this varies depending on the amount of time spent in Japan, and other factors listed below.
1 year residence period
- Spouse of special permanent resident
- Japanese child of a permanent resident,
- Child of special permanent resident,
- Adopted child
- Advanced professional with more than 80 job points (this has requirements for independent living)
In addition to staying in Japan for more than one year, spouses of Japanese citizens, permanent residents and special permanent residents are required to continue their marriage for three years.
3 years residence period
- 70 or more Advanced Professional points (includes requirements for performance and independent living)
5 years residence period
- Refugee status
- Indochina resettlement refugee
- Resettlement visa holder
10 years of residence
- Adoptive children of Japanese citizens
- Permanent Residents
- Special Permanent Residents
2. Documents required for the application of permanent residence
There are documents that are required generally for all applications, whilst some are specific to the particular visa.
- Permanent residence application
- Portrait photo
- Residence card
- Passport or Certificate of Eligibility
- Identification card (with signature)
- Material related to the guarantor
- Identity documents (family register, birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
- Family members’ residence cards (if applicable)
- Documents to prove the occupation of the applicant (or their dependent)
- Documents to prove the applicant's (or their dependent's) income
Documents required for individual visas
- Documentation of contribution to Japan (if applicable) - Resident, working visa, Highly Skilled Professional visa only
- Advanced Professions Point Calculator- Highly Skilled Professional visa only
- Evidence on each item contributing to the point calculation - Highly Skilled Professional visa only
- Evidence of the applicant's property (copy of the passbook, certificate of registration of real estate etc.) - For settlers, employment visas, high-level professionals only
Who can be a guarantor for a permanent residence visa?
An application for permanent residence requires a guarantor. Guarantors can be Japanese citizens or foreign residents with permanent residence rights. If the applicant is the spouse of a permanent resident or Japanese citizen, their spouse can be a guarantor.
The need for a guarantor to apply for permanent residence is that foreigners are required to guarantee their stay expenses, return travel expenses, and legal compliance when they stay in Japan. Unlike a guarantor such as a bank, even if a person who has obtained permanent residence violates the law, there is no question of liability.
What kind of documents are required from a guarantor?
- Letter of guarantee
- Certificate of residence
- Tax certificate
- Certificate of employment
- Identification card
Taxation certificate and tax payment certificate need to be up-to-date. The residence card must not only be for the guarantor, but for their family.
How to write and fill in the application form for permanent residence in Japan
On the application form, you will need to specify:
- the date
- either by year or era
- your nationality
- your name in kanji or romanised alphabet
- phone numbers
- passport details
- residence card number
- details of any criminal record in Japan
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