New Long-Term Residency Requirements: Prove you’re not a criminal even overseas

–HELLO BLOG. QUOTING A RECENT EXCHANGE ON THE COMMUNITY REGARDING HOW THINGS ARE TIGHTENING UP FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO LENGTHEN THEIR VISAS HERE IN JAPAN:

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October 4, 2007

Hello, Does anyone have any more information about this new (I think) development? What do they mean by long-term residents? Anyone who is not a tourist? Does it include permanent residents?

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New Long Term Residency Requirements: Japan recently modified its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The law now requires that long-term residents provide satisfactory evidence that they do not have a criminal record in their home country when renewing their resident card. To obtain such proof, U.S. citizens with long-term resident status in Japan need to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and provide it with a copy of their fingerprints. To request such service, please follow the guidance listed here. For more details about the Japanese requirements, check with the nearest immigration office in Japan,
http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/ib-09.html

Source:
U.S. Department of State
Consular Information Sheet: Japan
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1148.html
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I am getting really annoyed at being treated like a criminal what with all this fingerprinting. We seemed to be moving nicely away from that trend in recent years with the fingerprints being removed from our Alien Registration Cards. I am feeling distinctly unwelcome in the country I have called home for ten of the past twelve years… Shaney.

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I called immigration just now. I talked with a wise lady who has been at Nagoya immigration ever since I applied for my first visa extension over 12 years ago, she advised me when I got my first marriage visa, and my permanent visa. She also advised me when I wanted to sponsor a friend for permanent residence. So far she’s never steered me wrong.

She was completely baffled by me calling and said *I* personally have absolutely nothing to worry about, no one will be asking for my FBI records.

I tried to explain to her, I wasn’t necessarily concerned for myself but wanted to know if anyone else might have to at some point provide such FBI records. She said the only people she was aware of that required records from the FBI were American nikkeijin. She said this was indeed a new law, and that must be what the US state department is talking about. Even here, I think it might have only been third generation Americans that needed FBI records.

I found this requirement on the web, here it is:
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/HOUREI/h07.html

Now, I read her in English what was at the State Departments site, and explained it in Japanese as well. She could not make any sense of the idea that I would have to provide FBI documents merely to renew my gaikokujin toroku sho. (Gaijin card). She said that didn’t make any sense to her as it has nothing to do with your visa.

That was that. She could be in error.

I think most big changes in immigration law are generally posted here:
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/hourei/index.html

I looked there and could not find anything about needing FBI records. I will have a second look.

If anyone else looks into this, I would be interested in what they find out.

Best,
Matt Dioguardi

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1) “Long term resident (teijusha)” is one of 27 Status of Residence (visa) categories.

The word “long term” is just a translation of “teiju” and has nothing to do with the validity of the Status of Residence nor the number of years you have lived in Japan. It’s just a name of the Status of Residence. So some have three year “long term resident” and others have one year “long term resident” on their passport. You can even obtain “long term residence” on arrival if you have a corresponding Certificate of Eligibility.

“Permanent Resident (eijusha, or eijuken)” is another Status of Residence. It is different from “Long term resident.”

Below is a list of all 27 Status of Residence categories. It has been like this for about 20 years, nothing new.
http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data/icrra.pdf ( p71 – 76, teijusha at the bottom )

2) However, the requirements for each Status of Residence have changed frequently. Part of it is stricter requirements for “Long term resident” because of, I think, recent crimes by the Japanese descendents (nikkei) with “Long term resident” Status of Residence who came to Japan with false documents or criminal records in home country (police clearance was not required back then.)

Not all “Long term resident” holders are required to submit police clearance, but only Japanese descendents (nikkei) and their spouse.

The new requirements below. (Only in Japanese) The phrase “sokou ga zenryou dearu mono = those whose behavior and conduct are good” was recently added to Item 3, 4, 5, 6 (i.e. requirement categories for Japanse descendents and their spouse), and is the legal basis for requiring police clearance.
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/HOUREI/h07-01-01.html
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/keiziban/happyou/nikkei.html

3) The new requirements themselves have nothing to do with “gaijin card” or alien registration card.

Akira HIGUCHI

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COMMENT: THEN I WONDER WHY THE US EMBASSY WAS CONTACTING ITS AMERICANS ABOUT THIS IF IT’S BASICALLY ONLY PERTINENT TO NIKKEI TEIJUU? HERE WE GO AGAIN WITH YET ANOTHER BUNCH OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT A NEW LAW IN PRACTICE AND ON PAPER? ARUDOU DEBITO IN SAPPORO

8 comments on “New Long-Term Residency Requirements: Prove you’re not a criminal even overseas

  • As much as I dislike it, I will jump though whatever hoops are required. Considering that the FBI request takes “approximately 16-18 weeks”, getting this done as early as possible is probably best. Apparently as part of the process you need to send them your fingerprints. I wonder if a Japanese police station would take my fingerprints for me…

    However, the information is indeed confusing. I am not nikkei teijū, and yet my embassy is suggesting that I need to do it. Please keep us updated on any developments or further information.

  • This is quite disconcerting. I’ve been living in Japan only 2 months and I certainly plan on staying here a long time, but it seems like I’m not as welcome here as I was a mere 2 months ago. Personally, I do not feel comfortable contacting the FBI for any reason, as I’m afraid (with good reason) that I will be tracked by them without my knowledge.

  • Could this be an attempt by the FBI to acquire fingerprints of ex-pats in order to keep track of them, or to search for fugitives? It would seem a strange way to go about it, but what other reason might there be for justifying a request for fingerprints with a Japanese law that apparently doesn’t exist? Maybe an honest mistake?

    Additionally, is this rule effecting Americans only? If so, why?

  • Another John says:

    I talked with Yokohama immigration and they said I was speaking Greek to them. OK, lame language pun aside, they said they had no idea what I was talking about and that no such law had been passed. On background, the Yokohama Immigration Bureau has always played straight with me – similar to Matt’s experience in the main body of the blog.

    I went to the UK Embassy ( http://www.uknow.or.jp/be_e/ ) and the Aussie Embassy ( http://www.australia.or.jp/english/ ) to cross-reference and could find nothing at all to this new “law”. There is a new requirement for people wanting UK visas, where they have to submit to fingerprinting and digital photos, but that’s totally different. Nothing about any rules requiring a background check for UK or Oz residents seeking extended or long-term stay in Japan. If anyone has the time, please check for yourself…maybe I was looking in the wrong ares of the site.

    I could be mistaken, but I highly suspect this is a thing from the US side, in which case, the US government can have my prints when the take them from my cold, dead fingers.

  • Another John says:

    Just a little more about this…two key points:

    1) If this was a legal measure from Japan, then wouldn’t it follow that Japanese embassy sites in foreign countries would have information on this? I looked for this or any stay extension reference at the JP embassy sites in UK, Australia and the USA and, again, nothing.

    2) The US State Dep’t page says – quote – New Long Term Residency Requirements: Japan recently modified its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The law now requires that long-term residents provide satisfactory evidence that they do not have a criminal record in their home country when renewing their resident card. To obtain such proof, U.S. citizens with long-term resident status in Japan need to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and provide it with a copy of their fingerprints. To request such service, please follow the guidance listed here. For more details about the Japanese requirements, check with the nearest immigration office in Japan,
    http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/ib-09.html

    The resident card … I assume they mean the Gaikokujin Toroku Shomeisho, right? Well, if so, the Gaijin card is a function of your ward office, not of immigration. I have never received/renewed/amended my card at the immigration bureau directly; I have always gone to the kuyakusho. The discrepancy in the press release, directing people to their nearest immigration office, is wrong. Immigration will know about the residency requirements, but it is the kuyakusho that can tell you about resident card application/renewals. That little detail discredits the source right there.
    Thoughts?

  • Looks like multiple contacts ought to be made: to the press, Japanese Immigration, ward offices, and especially the state department, to inform people of this apparent misrepresentation of Japanese law, and request an explanation for it.

  • SPEAKING OF CRIMINAL RECORDS OVERSEAS…

    Velvet Revolver Forced To Cancel Japan Shows
    http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003673907
    November 16, 2007, 10:55 AM ET
    Steve McClure, Tokyo

    Japanese immigration authorities have denied Velvet Revolver’s request for visas, forcing the band to cancel shows it had scheduled in four Japanese cities later this month.

    In a statement, a band spokesperson says “increasingly tough” Japanese immigration officials took exception to the backgrounds of various Velvet Revolver members, which have included arrests. The band is appealing the decision, which affects planned dates between Nov. 26 and 30, but that process may take “months.”

    “We want to apologize to our fans in Japan that we won’t be able to perform our scheduled concerts,” Velvet Revolver said in a group statement. “We don’t understand why the authorities won’t give us visas, when they granted them for us in 2005 for what was a successful tour and a great experience. We love Japan and look forward to our return there.”

    On Nov. 20, Japan is scheduled to become the second country in the world (after the United States) to introduce biometric screening — including fingerprinting — of all foreign nationals entering the country.

    Velvet Revolver, meanwhile, will proceed with its Australian tour, which begins Dec. 4 in Brisbane.
    ENDS

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