Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 19th, 2008
Hi Blog. I have been receiving emails recently from people saying that the essential benchmark qualifications for Permanent Residency (eijuuken, or PR)–i.e. five years’ continuous residency if married to a Japanese, ten years’ continuous if not (aside from the obvious bits about law-abidingness and stable income)–don’t seem to be sufficient anymore, even in some cases where one would think candidates would be a shoo-in. Witness:
Dear David, I have just been to the Fukuoka Immigration center at Fukuoka Airport and was planning to submit my forms for Permanent Resident Status (永住権) after taking advice from your web page on this issue.
When I explained myself to the first staff member they said there was no way I would obtain this status because I have not been in Japan 10 years.
But I replied that I have lived in Japan over nine years, employed for all that time, married for six, two children who are Japanese nationals, and I am one of only a handful of people in Japan who has a permanent full-time position in an Elementary School.
I was passed onto another member of staff who told me to fill out some more forms for this application (which is fair enough) but I am seeking advice on this issue – espeically about application and marriage time – for they seemed not to understand the rule about five years of marriage to a Japanese national allows you to apply for Permanent Resident Status.
Any information, English or Japanese, which I could take down and show them on the date of my next meeting with them would be gratefully received.
According to HANDBOOK co-author Akira, Immigration says the requirements for PR are:
Guidelines for Permission for Permanent Residence
(1) The person is of good conduct.
The person observes Japanese laws and his/her daily living as a resident does not invite any social criticism.
(2) The person has sufficient assets or ability to make an independent living.
The person does not financially depend on someone in the society in his daily life, and his/her assets or ability, etc. are assumed to continue to provide him/her with a stable base of livelihood into the future.
(3) The person’s permanent residence is regarded to be in accord with the interests of Japan.
In principle, the person has stayed in Japan for more than 10 years consecutively. It is also required that during his/her stay in Japan the person has had work permit or the status of residence for more than 5 years consecutively.
The person has been never sentenced to a fine or imprisonment. The person fulfills public duties such as tax payment.
The maximum period of stay allowed for the person with his/her current status of residence under Annexed Table 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is to be fully utilized.
There is no possibility that the person could do harm from the viewpoint of protection of public health.
※ The requirements (1) and (2) above do not apply to spouses and children of Japanese nationals, special permanent residents or permanent residents, and requirement (2) does not apply for those who have been recognized as refugees
Special requirements for 10-year residence in principle
(1) The person is a spouse of a Japanese national, special permanent resident or permanent resident, and has been in a real marital relationship for more than 3 years consecutively and has stayed in Japan more than 1 year consecutively. Or, the person is a true child of a Japanese national, special permanent resident or permanent resident, and has stayed in Japan more than 1 year consecutively.
(2) The person has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively with the status of long term resident.
(3) The person has been recognized as a refugee, and has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively after recognition.
(4) The person has been recognized to have made a contribution to Japan in diplomatic, social, economic, cultural or other fields, and has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years.
※ Please see “Guidelines for Contribution to Japan.”[which are not linked from this site, and unavailable despite a MOJ website search; see them here in Japanese]
March 31, 2006, Immigration Bureau of Japan, The Ministry of Justice
Japanese original: http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan50.html
Would have thought the first case cited above would suffice. Same with this case I just heard about the other day:
Bad news on my PR application — I was turned down after half a year on a student visa and 9 1/2 years on the current work visa. They want me to get married, change to a spouse visa, and then wait three more years before trying again. I hate to wait that long — I want to get a mortgage and buy a home; we can’t afford to keep renting!
The above is from a graduate student at Japan’s top university, who got in after passing his entrance exams in Japanese!
But what really beats all is the fact that SAYUKI, Japan’s first NJ geisha (more on her here.) was also recently refused her PR! This despite:
1) A total of fifteen years in Japan, ten consecutive in high school and university
2) Attending Japanese high school
3) Being the first caucasian woman ever to be accepted and graduate as a normal student from Keio University
4) Probably the first NJ caucasian woman to get the teaching degree in Japan (kyoushoku katei)
5) Being the first to work in the Japanese life insurance industry (ippanshoku to shite)
6) Being employed at Kyodo Tsushi, Reuters, NHK etc as a journalist
7) Making more than ten television programmes about Japan
8) Publishing three academic books on Japan
9) Being a Lecturer in Japanese Studies at university (National Univ of Singapore)
10) Currently the first foreign woman ever to be accepted as a geisha.
She concludes that it was in fact easier to get into Keio! This despite guidelines (Article 2(4) above) saying that ten years need not be continuous if, “The person has been recognized to have made a contribution to Japan in diplomatic, social, economic, cultural or other fields (which she clearly has) and has stayed in Japan for more than 5 years” (which she has). So why refused? Unclear.
There is, however, an unusual right of appeal for PR applications (not for other visa statuses), within six months. A person in the know advised:
There are many lawyers (bengoshi or gyoseishoshi) in Tokyo who deal with immigration matters. How about consulting with them? Just one hour or so consultation shouldn’t cost much. They may come up with a better solution after thoroughly examining your explanations/documents.
There is a high court case in which the court ordered to cancel the immigration decision of “non-permission of permanent residency.” But this is (partly) because of Immigration’s fault in the factual finding phase, not because “the guideline” is prejudiced or irrational. So you (or your lawyer) will have to overturn this kind of judgement in court. Hiring a lawyer will take a lot of time and money, and most of all, it’s very difficult even for a specialist lawyer.
So a practical solution would be to wait for another couple of years and re-reapply IF you still can/want to extend your current visa for three more years.
The govenment is planning to change the law next year, and there may be major changes to permanent residency system.
Yeah great. But cripes, how many hoops must one jump through these days just to upgrade to PR? A Green Card in the US, for example, certainly doesn’t take this many years, and without PR in Japan, you can’t get home/car/etc. loans from financial institutions with pinkies, qualify for many credit cards, or, say, obtain the ability to divorce without the threat of visa violation. Also having Immigration demand that people marry or else (not everyone has that affectional preference; civil unions are not legal in Japan) is one of the worst kinds of “local-content requirements” for your working environment.
This much rigmarole from Immigration only puts Japan at a competitive disadvantage for attracting qualified, educated migrants to stay in Japan permanently. After this much dedication from them, then a slap in the face, many of them might think twice about staying on after all. Wise up, Immigration. You’re supposed to be helping Japan face it’s future.
Comments from others with successful (or not) experiences getting PR are welcome. Arudou Debito in Sapporo