Taikibansei & Cabby on mixed experiences getting Permanent Residency depending on Immigration Office. What about other Debito.org readers?


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Hi Blog.  Today I’d like to ask Debito.org Readers about their experiences with various Immigration offices around Japan.  We had a discussion recently on the JALT PALE list about how they did on their Permanent Residency applications, and have concluded that how NJ are treated both interpersonally and applicationwise seems to depend on the Immigration office they apply at.

Two testimonials follow from Taikibansei and Cabby.  Immigration offices at Miyazaki, Morioka (and for me, Sapporo — story from 1996 here) seem to be very nice and liberal.  However, I’ve heard bad things about Tokyo (and Okayama below).  How about everyone else?   I think collecting information on Debito.org would be a good idea so people have some idea where to apply (stories about applying for the most important visa, PR, most welcome).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Taikibansei: Well, I went to Morioka Immigration for the first time yesterday to get my re-entry permit. Now, the building itself is a bit difficult to find–it’s in the parking lot behind several other, apparently more important (e.g., THEY have prominent signs…), buildings.

I stumbled up there (it’s on the second floor) at five minutes before 1 pm, walking right into the office — office hours begin at 1 pm. Now, in Fukui (at least 10-15 years ago), attempting to enter the immigration office early would have at best earned you a five-minute lecture from the cranky old guy that was in charge there; if you were from Thailand, the Philippines, etc., he would also have made you wait an extra hour or so as “punishment” (seen it happen).

The reaction in Morioka: BOTH guys jumped up with goofy grins and gave me a big “Irasshaimase!” This, quite frankly, threw me–I asked if this was indeed the immigration office, looking around for something to confirm. It was then that I noticed I was early. Bracing myself for the lecture (at least), I apologized profusely, telling them I would return in five minutes when they were officially open.

They would have nothing of it. “It’s only five minutes!” One told me that the day had been slow and that he was “chotto samishii” (they are pretty isolated there). He then asked, “What can we do for you? Do you want a visa-status change form? Do you want to apply for permanent residence?” Me: “Uh, no, I just need the form for multiple entry.” “Oh, only that.”

He gave me the form, then FOLLOWED me to the counter in back to HELP ME FILL IT OUT. Now, as I’m sure everyone here knows, the form is in Japanese and English–i.e., even if you don’t know Japanese, you can still fill out the form pretty easily. Well, the guy wouldn’t go away–worse, he started saying stuff like, “Do you like reimen? I know a great shop for reimen!” or, “Do you have cold like this in America? It gets really cold here at night” or, “You’re really tall, I bet you have many girlfriends!”

Despite his “help,” I finally managed to fill the darn thing out and give it to him. He processed it in five minutes, and I was gone–got a “Douzo mata irasshatte kudasaimase” as I was heading out the door. All and all, a bizarre experience–thought I’d stumbled into a snack bar!

I do think this is one of the best things about having access to an immigration office in a smaller town. Most immigration horror stories originate in big cities like Tokyo. Moreover, I’ve always wondered whether each office has the same limit (say, 100) on the number of permanent residencies they can process in a year. Tokyo, with its huge foreign population, would probably easily exceed that number by mid-year for most years. Miyazaki, on the other hand, would struggle most years to get to one third of that number.

This would explain the apparent difference in ease of getting PR. I mean, if there really is just one rule for everyone, then it should be just as difficult to get PR in Miyazaki as Tokyo. However, XXXX and his acquaintances apparently could not get PR there, while I know of nobody who has been rejected for PR in Miyazaki. (Know of three besides myself who applied while I was down there–including the husband in a foreigner-foreigner marriage–never a problem.) Heck, even shady characters such as myself got it!  Taikibansei


Cabby:  Not sure if the this actually matters. My experiences with Immigration since 1988 have been very mixed. When I moved to Okayama from Osaka my 3-year spousal visa was about to expire. I went to the local and at the time very small Immigration office and told them that I would like to apply for permanent residency. The bozo bureaucrat behind the counter did everything he could to discourage me. I told him that I qualified and there would be no harm in trying. He went so far as to say that the 3-year spousal visa that I had did not count since it was issued in Osaka. That was when I about hit the ceiling. He then said it would take at least six months and perhaps a year to get the visa, if it were granted, adding that I would not be able to leave the country during that time. “Are any family members in the U.S. ill? You should consider this before applying.” Well, not one to be deterred by officialdom, I applied anyway. Three weeks later I got a card in the mail asking me to come to the Immigration office to get my new visa, a PR.

The point I am trying to make is that this fool in the local office really had little if anything to do with the decision. That was made in Hiroshima, the regional office. I suspect that this is the case in many small locales. The paperwork gets sent to a regional center where the decision is made. I must add that in the past few years all the local officers I have had to deal with were closer in demeanor to the one who helped Taikibansei than the one who attempted to discourage me.  Cabby.


48 comments on “Taikibansei & Cabby on mixed experiences getting Permanent Residency depending on Immigration Office. What about other Debito.org readers?

  • So I think besides the paperwork issue, Japan over issued Permanent Residency Permits Until 2008. When they realized they had issued ‘too many’. We can start a discussion on their rationale for numbers, but to get to the point- so you’re going to see a local twist to every location. Japan tries very hard to present itself as a unified, non fractured state. But people are people no matter what, the smaller towns are experiencing substantial migration of their children, and people are going to deal with that in their own ways.

    I think universally, strength and a good sense of humor is necessary when dealing with any sort of exhaustive and mind-boggling bureaucracy. I’ve been living in Germany since September and its not really much better that Japan. At least in Japan, they do have a acute and conscious respect for your time.

  • I sweated a lot about getting PR but in the end had no problems. I went through Shinagawa. It took 9 months.That place is impersonal and foreboding but no more so than in any other country.

  • Well after reading this I feel somewhat at ease as I was thinking about getting PR here in Osaka.I’ve been married to a JN for 6 years, living in Japan for 5 and a half years and also have a son. I sure hope it will be as easy for me.

  • I was just rejected for PR. However I haven’t been here 10y, and neither do I have a Japanese spouse, so I was applying under the “contribution to Japan” category. I think my research record easily meets their published benchmark and I had support from one of Japan’s most eminent scientists, but nevertheless I was rejected with the standard one-liner.

    The (Yokohama) immigration office was pessimistic about my chances (“chotto muzukashii”) but made no attempt to actually discourage me from applying.

  • hi – in 1998 when applying for a 3 year spousal visa renewal was told by one guy at the takasaki immigration to apply for PR. he gave me the forms and off i went to fill-in every single one. i returned a week later with stacks of papers and there was some other guy there and he told me i couldn`t and so, just renewed my spousal visa. i had been married 10 years by then but only in japan for 5. was told by second guy that the “law” says 10 years in japan. apparently no such “law” as i applied one year later, waited about 3 or 4 months and received my PR.

  • H.M. King Joe says:

    I went through the Fukuoka immigration office. The first time I went to renew my one-year spouse visa, I was asked “Why don’t you apply for a three-year one?” The first time I went to renew the three-year visa, it was “Why don’t you apply for PR? Both suggestions from their side. I didn’t have to do anything other than fill in the forms. Everyone very pleasant and a very smooth process. Living in Kyushu obviously has its benefits.

  • it is amazing the variance between them.here in yamagata we can use 2-a branch office at the port in sakata or the main big one in sendai,miyagi.
    the one in sakata has noone ever there and is incredibly friendly.when i went to ask for a spose visa extension there one time ,they told me to apply for pr instead – and i got it almost right away.
    the sendai main one is busy and the people are nasty.one time before pr i was leaving the country for business and noticed my visa was expiring.i phoned them up to see if they could do it in 4 days.”no,you will have to not go on the trip or go and reapply abroad during which time you wont be able to enter japan” pointing out that i lived,worked and had family in japan was irrelevant to them.i then phoned up the branch office and they said come today we will do it straight away.
    needless to say i always use the branch now..
    i hear the sendai one has improved(interested to hear bens etc comments on it) but ill never go there again.
    its the random nature of it which is rather frustrating

  • James in Nara says:

    Everytime except once when I’ve gone to immigration in Nara, I was the only one in the office, and I was helped quickly and out the door in 10 minutes. Of course big decisions like visa renewal have to go the main office in Osaka, but even then, I got a 3-year visa the first time I renewed, so maybe being in the countryside helps.

  • I applied in Osaka the days after our third anniversary. I’d lived in Japan for a stretch of seven years. The application proceeded normally and we even moved to rural Japan during the process, but they let me pick up the certificate at my local immigration bureau rather than going all the way back to Osaka. Not quick per se (it took six months), but entirely painless.

  • Another John says:

    Got my PR in Yokohama in 2001 and it was ridiculously easy. I was renewing my spousal visa for the 2nd time and my case worker/agent said, “Why don’t you just get a permanent?” He drew up a process flow chart, gave me all the paperwork and basically acted as my sherpa, navigating me through the bureaucratic maze and helping to correct any mistakes I made in the application. I applied in September, 2001 and was asked in November to come and get it.
    Ultimate irony? When I went to get my PR, just as I was getting my sticker, a young Thai woman was standing not more than 5 meters away at the next counter. Dressed in showgirl fishnet stockings, a blazing-red mini-skirt and a somewhat see-through halter top, she was getting kicked out of the country. Immigration denied her visa and she had 10 days to leave. Her 60-something Japanese “husband”, who was wearing a white suit and sunglasses – inside the office – was raising hell saying “We were married in Chang Mai 6 months ago. Why do I have to prove it to you? I am Japanese – that’s all the proof you need!”

  • Taikibansei said: “Moreover, I’ve always wondered whether each office has the same limit (say, 100) on the number of permanent residencies they can process in a year.”

    I doubt that we will ever know the answer to this question, so perhaps it is best to examine the behavior of other ministries that may be more transparent than the MOJ.

    Consider the “JSPS Postdoctroal Fellowship for Foreign Researchers” program run by MEXT (the Ministry for Education, Sports, Science, Technology, Culture, Something Else I Am Probably Forgetting, and the Proverbial Kitchen Sink)

    In this program, chances of application success rest most heavily on the region from which one applies and whether that region has accepted its limit of applications. However, the application limits are indeed scaled by region, with recruiting from within Japan having a much higher quota than individual overseas recruiting organizations (for example the NIH in the US, which if memory serves correct, can accept 10 applications per recruiting period). Nonetheless, through my experiences with having a number of friends and colleagues who have participated in the program, many of the overseas recruiting organizations (including NIH) never reach their quota, resulting in a very high success rate for overseas applicants, while on the other hand, applicants applying within Japan are often rejected simply due to the quota having been reached.

    I’ve seen research proposals fail when sent directly to the JSPS from within Japan, only to be accepted with zero changes when forwarded from an overseas agency during the subsequent recruiting period. When my research group is contacted by a potential applicant, we highly encourage that person to apply from their home country, if at all possible, simply due to the higher ratio of application spots to applicants.

  • I got mine back in June of 2007 from the Saitama Immigration Branch. At the time I had applied 16 months earlier, I had been in Japan 9 years and married for 5.

    I was able to take care of all of the paperwork in two visits and one visit to the town office, so that went fairly smooth. The only reason I can think of for having taken so long to process was my long list of addresses and jobs (on my 4th gaijin card at that point from all the updates) so maybe it took a long time to go through it all?

    The staff were friendly and helpful during the application process even though the office was full every time I went. The only exception was when I started phoning after half a year had passed and I asked if everything was ok with the application. I got a “Why? Is there some reason you are in a hurry?” question, but after blowing that off they just said “It will be done when it is done. Please keep waiting”

    Mostly positive, all things considered

  • Heh. Sendai immigration office gets mixed reviews from me. They have two types of staff -actual immigration officers who are in the office at the back and reception staff who seem to be part-time.

    Unfortunately the reception staff are (in my experience) unprofessional, unfriendly, and uninformed. The actual officers are polite and professional. I can think of at least five instances where I was given the wrong information by the reception staff (most memorably when they told me I could apply for PR after three years of marriage. Of course when I went back with all my paperwork I was told it was impossible so I asked to see the director and got an apology from him. A couple of years later my application went through in seven months).

    Now when calling for an inquiry I ask to speak to an officer. If that is impossible I get names, make notes of dates, etc. Recently an acquaintance was trying to get a visa to stay in Japan and was told by one reception staff that the only option was to get married. As he was leaving another member of staff called him over and told him there is a ‘looking for work’ visa he was eligible for (having graduated from a Japanese technical college), and that the first person he talked to didn’t know what they were talking about!

    The main problem with the immigration services as I see it is that there is little accountability. They are dealing with people who don’t vote and are likely to lack the language skills and social status to effectively complain, so they can get away with behaviour that would be unthinkable in say, a ward office. Looking forward to naturalising so I don’t have to deal with them any more…

  • I applied in Niigata a couple of years ago, after being on a spousal visa for nearly 10 years. The immigration officer actually encouraged me to apply when renewing my spouse visa. He said that I was a shoe in and there would be no problems at all. I applied one week later after I had gotten all the paperwork in order and less than three weeks after that I got my PR. It was entirely painless and overall a very pleasant experience. (excluding running back and forth of course)

  • I got my PR in Sendai. I am American. The process took 3 months, and on the day I picked it up, the nice girl hit on me and told me that I had “beautiful hands”….whatever that means. She must have known that I had a spousal visa before the conversion. Alas, the gesture did make me happy nonetheless. If you can speak Japanese or at least communicate, then you will have no problems. At least I didn’t, and I never saw anything out of the ordinary either.

  • Going for my PR in a month or so and will be applying to a satellite office in Tachikawa. They’re not personable there, but they’re not impersonal either. Efficient and to the point. Never had a problem with them and they’re helpful when asked. I’m collecting my materials at this moment, can anyone who recently got their PR let me know what paperwork they turned in? I am half tempted to throw everything at them, but that could be seen as overkill as well; is the list on the MOJ website accurate?

  • Will be applying to the dreaded Shinagawa this year in a few months as soon as I hit the magic 10 year mark. Any hints? I am not married to a Japanese – it seems that those on spousal visas go through a lot more quickly.

  • Great topic! I have had the pleasure of having a personal relationship with someone who worked for immigration and meeting the people who work there on personal time, nomikai etc, they are normal humans and are good fun. They actually seemed happy to be able to interact with NJ in a non-professional capacity.

    But more to the point, my experiences with la migre ; Old Tokyo office, just plain terrible attitude but at least you could ask for info. Old Chiba Minato office; nightmarish! Ask a question, told to just put your paperwork in the box. So I left and went home. They called my employer and I went back the next day. They yelled at me for being n idiot. I was just doing what I was told. Granted it was a stupid move, but… Fukuoka; advised me to wait one year and not waste my money on applying for PR until I had actually completed 10 years of residence. Advised a friend to apply for PR, cuz they didn’t want to keep doing his paperwork for spouse visa renewal. He got it in 2 weeks. New Tokyo, aka shinagawa, what a bunch of not nice people. I personally got in a fight with a Phillipina at the info desk in Japanese, cuz she insisted that all foreign people are required to have a written work contract to work in Japan. Not true, but… I also got on the phone and argued with an agent that the website says all original documents will be returned if requested. They cost money don’t they? Then my wife got in on the conversation and he finally gave in and said yes, but only if we included a self addressed envelope with appropriate postage. Irritating.

    1 other point to note. I personally know a person who’s work visa expired, he left japan and returned on a tourist visa, and then while in Japan he applied for his new work visa after getting a job, and was accepted. It took a really long time, but it did happen. It is not impossible no matter what anyone tells you.

    So the take away from this is, there is not a lot of inconsistency across the country even within the same government entity.

    One more. The teams that actually do the raids on potential illegals, will never ask you for you ARC, only for your passport and they will go to your residence with you to get it. Checking your gaijin card doesn’t provide them with any reliable info. Just ask immigration.

    — Then what the hell is the point of the ARC?

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    My PR is still being processed. My experiences with immigration are that one person in one office will tell you one thing, someone in a different office will tell you something different, and both will be different from the MOJ website! My wife did a bit of calling around to get info regarding my spouse visa and PR, and rarely was the information consistant.
    I always use Saitama’s Kitayono office The staff have been helpful and fast – I lodged my PR application in 5 minutes – although I assume the fact that all my paperwork is completed in Japanese speeds things up. You’d never get me to go to Shinagawa again!

  • “My heart goes out” to the 60 year old Japanese man who can’t be with his nice young Thai bride from Chiang Mai, as mentioned by Another John, above. While its amusing, he does have a point; why can’t he bring his wife into Japan, he is indeed Japanese, and he was not afraid to debate the point with officialdom.

    Long long ago in the early 90s, Yokohama immigration kept giving me 6 month visas instead of the one year one, because a couple of years before I had left a job 2 months after getting sponsored by them. My employer wrote a letter to them requesting a year visa, while commenting under his breath, they were “funny down at that office.” a year or two later I moved to Tokyo, and was surprised to see some of the faces from Yokohama immigration at the Tokyo office; apparently they got moved around periodically.

    I ve never applied for PR even though I could get it because there is apparently a condition that you have to declare overseas earnings to Japan. Can anyone confirm this?

    Immigration is certainly a random process; in November my Taiwanese ex girlfriend came to visit and was refused entry again. This stems from her being kicked out in 2003 for a period of 5 years because of working part time on a student visa withour permission, and even though the 5 year period is now over, they still refuse her entry. Thats the second time she has tried and despite my guarantees and them grilling me on personal issues, they would not let her in for a 3 day visit.

    Perhaps I m on a blacklist now by association. I ll let you know when my visa comes up for renewal in July.

  • WRT to #20: AIUI you are a probably considered a “permanent” resident for tax purposes after 5 years anyway, though whether anyone actually follows up these things is another matter. Generally speaking, visa status has little to do with tax law, what matters for the latter is where you have actually been living and working, and for how long.

    Ah, 3 secs with google (knew I had seen it somewhere, should have done that before typing the above):


    So after 5 years you are a “permanent” resident, all worldwide income is taxable.

  • Weird sudden Japanese test!

    I got mine no problem in just about a month from Shinagawa; working for a bureaucracy I armed myself- you know, bullet proof financials ーbecause I also have my own company and also my own freelance work I filed my own CPA-authorized 確定申告 and 決算 for years going back to last century, all the local bungs to government so they can waste my money diligently, you know, health, 年金, the lot. I even got my boss in the ministry to say what a nice guy I was. Last but definitely not least, I am married to a Japanese citizen.

    So where is all this going? Well I know the only thing guaranteed in life is death, but there seemed no logical reason other than quotas or racism or arbitrariness not to let me get my 永住許可。

    But the weird thing was they suddenly threw a curve ball. The guy at the counter looked at me, and said, “draw a map in Japanese of where you live, stating important places,” or words to that effect.

    So I trotted off and did a nice map all in nice, joined up kanji for 青山通り、明治通り、渋谷駅、and I thought, screw it, let’s pander to them, so I made sure I gave them what we call in South London a bit of the old flannel- 児童会館、渋谷区役省、渋谷警察省、etc.

    Funnily enough the bloke just took the sheet, frowned at it, and gave me the instructions when to come back.

    What was the purpose of the sudden map? It didn’t really throw me, but I did find it puzzling.

    Was it some kind of catch- you know, after all the mounds of documentation, all of it produced by his government to keep me completely pinned as a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen- whoops, I mean guest- that he didn’t believe his own eyes?

    You know, I had my full office suit on, shiny shoes, haircut, the lot.

    So what was going on there?

    Anyone know?

  • SPDinMiyagi says:

    Good to see this topic up.

    Sendaiben’s comment is spot on about the Sendai immigration.
    I got my PR about 11 years ago when they hadn’t moved to the new office outside of the building that immigration used to be in. In those days there were no part-time (?) staff at the entrance and you had to take your number, and then go up to the immigration officers themselves to ask any questions.

    What actually happened with me is that I went in to apply for PR with about 6 months left on my spouse visa. We were already married for 6 years at that time. The reason was that we were going to build a house which we wanted to put into joint ownership for tax purposes. (Of course on a spouse visa neither banks nor the Public Housing Finance Corp 住宅金融公庫 would not lend for my portion of the joint ownership.) So I go in to apply and the immigration officer said that I wouldn’t be able to get PR because we had not been married for 10 years. I said OK and gave up on it.

    Then when I duly go in 5 months later (after all the paperwork and approvals for the house had been finished) to renew my spouse visa, the immigration officer attending to me actually came out and asked my why I wasn’t applying for PR. I clarified with him that wasn’t the required period 10 years and he said no, 5 years and added that I should breeze through.
    I asked him whether the period had changed but he said that was how it always hade been.

    I asked to see the director and asked him why one officer is saying 10 years, and the other 5 years. He confirmed that the 5 year period is correct and he said that the first officer must have misunderstood. I explained to him where we were losing out on tax rebates due to this officer’s “misunderstanding” and I politely asked him to make sure that all of his staff are educated on the ins and outs of visa requirements. I went on and applied for my PR and got it in about 2 months.

    So obviously, there are not only differences depending on the region, but also differences within the same office depending on the officer dealing with you.

    This is getting a bit long now, so just one more comment. The Sendai office is much better now than the pokey little office that they used to be in. The seating is more comfortable and their operations also seem much more efficient. Although I only go there now once every 3 years for re-entry permits, I never see a crowd there nowdays.

  • My own experience at the immigration office in Shinagawa(about 7 years ago) was very stress free.I was renewing my 3 year visa and decided to apply for PR at the same time.I had friends who had PR, or who were also applying for PR and the joke was that they checked your documents on the day and then put your application at the bottom of a pile for 6 months to make it seem like it was going through a rigorous checking procedure – after 7 months I gave them a ring and they said it was ready.The only problem I had was when I arrived to pick it up; I couldn’t get to the desk quickly enough after they called my name and the woman behind the desk was blithely handing over my passport to a random stranger who had gone up to make an enquiry.

    Also,I was not enrolled in the national health insurance scheme at that time and they never asked about or needed documents relating to that.It will be interesting to see if that changes.

    For Jonholmes: As a permanent resident your overseas earnings are taxable in Japan, and last year I was sent documents relating to this when I was doing my taxes.I had to check a box stating that no money was remitted to Japan during the tax year.I did.That was it.

  • PRs seem to be dished out like confetti these days but do they have any worth?? You still need a re-entry visa and submit to the insulting criminal fingerprinting at the airports along with the one day tourists. Naturalization is the only way to go now.

  • I live in Saitama, used to work near Shinagawa so I’ve used both and can second what has been said about both above. Shinagawa is terrible, as everyone seems to know, you don’t go there because you want to, you go there if its the closest to your home or office and go into it expecting to be treated like a number.

    Saitama (Kitayono) is great… I’ve applied there for visa renewal twice and been greeted with a smile both times, I remember the guy who took my first application glanced it over and made some sort of friendly comment (“Oh, you live in XXX, that’s a nice area” or something like that) and it seriously shocked me, after the cold and impersonal treatment at Shinagawa.

  • I had an extremely easy time in both Sakata and Sendai. Sakata’s, as Adamw says a nice, quiet, and helpful place. I went to Sendai to update my visa to a married one last year and it, surprisingly, was a nice place. I did have the advantage of my wife phoning ahead and helping with the form-filling though!

    James@4 – sorry to hear that you didn’t get the PR. As an aside James, would you consider allowing non-blogspotters to comment on your blog?

  • #21 Snowman,

    Let me address each issue that you raise. In the future:
    1. Re-entry permits will be phased out with recent legislation. But you may need to submit DNA in order to qualify.
    2. Fingerprinting will be extended to include retinal scans and DNA submissions.
    3. Naturalization will include a forfeiture of your first born child as long as blue eyes are not detected in the child.
    These measures are being taken in order to save the fatherland. If you choose not to submit, you will be flown home at your own expense.

    — Phew.

  • @jonholmes:

    I ve never applied for PR even though I could get it because there is apparently a condition that you have to declare overseas earnings to Japan. Can anyone confirm this?

    You’re confusing PR for immigration purposes with PR for tax purposes.

    If you’ve been in Japan for a cumulative period of five years out of the last 10 (or more), then you are considered a permanent resident for tax purposes and do have to declare, and pay tax on, overseas earnings. Being a PR for tax has nothing to do with your immigration status, just how much time you’ve been here. It’s confusing because they call two different things the same…

  • Shiro Ishii says:

    jonholmes Says: I ve never applied for PR even though I could get it because there is apparently a condition that you have to declare overseas earnings to Japan. Can anyone confirm this?

    No, but I can refute it.

  • snowman Says: Naturalization is the only way to go now.

    I wish I could believe that were true. I thought I was home free after getting PR only to find out that nothing had changed. Once a gaijin always a gaijin in this country. Kudos to people like Debito for fighting for rights here. But in the past 10 years discrimination has only gotten worse. Some of the testimony on this site of how naturalized citizens have been treated is not encouraging either. And it’s a shame because if it weren’t for the attitude of the government and their police towards us it would be a good place to stay.

    — Well, with that defeatist attitude, that’s how things will stay. Shape up and help out.

  • And may I further sing the praises of ‘inaka’ immigration bureaus BUT the one burning question I have is … all you guys (and gals) who did the PR thing and then went natural … how many of you still have (or keep) your original nationality? PR was a breeze but I worry about giving up citizenship to my ‘original’ / ‘real’ (?) country if I get a Japanese passaport. Is it purely for the vote or are there a host of other bonuses waiting in the background (forgetting the reliable Japanese passport vs dodgy country passport argument)?

  • As for getting home loans and owning your own home without PR, it can be done. I have bought two apartments in the time that I’ve been here and managed to get a bank loan both times (from Tokyo Mitsubishi and Mizuho, respectively, not the foreign banks that charge higher interest) WITHOUT PR. Granted you will have to jump through a few more hoops, and it helps if you have a stable job where you have already worked for the same company for several years. But it can be done. The last time I was 9 months pregnant, which raised a few eyebrows – but I still got the loan 🙂

  • barbara summerhawk says:

    i got my eijuken in 4 months without any hassle from the Tokyo office….however, i wrote my own letter in my own japanese explaining that i was a 6th dan in aikido and a professor at a university…the fact that i didn’t have any problems is related to my being an american professional that has a connection to traditional japanese arts…also re credit cards, i’ve had a mitsui-sumitomo visa and mastercard for 25 years….when i first applied, i was rejected…when i called asking for an explanation, the sympathetic guy said it did appear that the only reason i was rejected was that i was a foreigner, as i had suspected…he told me he would send a new application and that i should return it to him and that he would take care of it; he did…

  • I wonder what the chances are for the PR voting rights legislation to pass. If it were to pass, that would be a major plus for converting to PR status….as I see many people here could, but choose not to for a variety of reasons. Of course, “Snowman #25” does have a point, and he ALWAYS makes me feel guilty!!!! lol….

  • well down here in Kawasaki I have had no problems. I have gone to that office over the last 9 years.
    They are quite used to foreign people since there are quite a few from many countries.

    I don’t think I will apply for PR since I am thinking of going back to the US next year. The green card for my wife will cost $355 and it takes up to a year to get, at least.

  • Over 10+ years, I have found few problems with Miyagi’s immigration office in Sendai. They also have a multilingual service support group (an NPA?) that work from the same building (is this common in other offices?). I got PR within a matter of months (3-4?), and interestingly two other friends that had applied *around* that same time from the same office all got their PR approval letters within days of each other – we discussed this and assumed we were all part of a ‘batch.’

  • Got mine in Nagoya in 2007. I had no problems and had no unfriendly or discouraging treatment despite accidentally letting my Spousal Visa run out during the PR application process. I thought that once I had applied for PR that I didn’t need to worry about the visa – my mistake.

  • Applied in 2002 in Tokyo at about 9 years from my first arrival in Japan–> Rejected
    Tried again in 2003 after reaching the magical 10 year point –> Accepted
    Was single at the time (and wanting to prove that I could get it on my own merits rather than because I was married to a Japanese citizen). I was even out of the country for a couple months at the time that the approval letter came.
    I speak/read/write Japanese (and think that every other PR should too if they intent to actually reside here permanently).
    Wrote in my letter of why they should give me PR that I was active in the community and regularly gave blood.
    Don’t think I had to draw a map, but a friend (on spouse visa at the time) said he did in his PR application.

  • I recently handed in my application at Tennozu in Shinagawa. Although the person who waited on me was not necessarily friendly, I spoke to her politely and she responded in the same way, getting me in and out quickly as my documents were all in order.

    To echo an earlier remark, I bought a condo in Tokyo last year and did not need PR to get the loan, having a Japanese spouse certainly helped though.

    I’ve got over 10 years in, 5 years with a J spouse, and now a home owner- if I don’t get PR this time, I’ll seriously have to consider whether I want it! And look into ways to cheat on my taxes and pension payments (half kidding)

  • Got my PR in far less than the 6 months that immigration said it would take. Went through work visa then spouse visa (one renewal), and applied when the spouse visa was about to expire.

    Small office (Kushiro) was nice enough to photocopy my papers (I’d neglected to provide duplicates), but that might have been because it was nearly lunch time and I explained the 2.5-hour trip. Got the PR in about 2 months.

    Strange thing is, a few years later (now) I phoned there and Sapporo to see if my wife could go in and apply for my re-entry permit. It would have been very difficult for me at that time. The immigration site says that among several types of people, a relative or “housemate” can do it. Both offices said my ***Japanese wife*** could not. I guess I need to get a housemate…whatever that means.

  • Slightly off-topic, but can anyone living in Tokyo (even the 23 special wards) use the Immigration branch office in Tachikawa? Is it worth making the trek out there to avoid the mayhem at the Shinagawa centre?

  • I use the Tachikawa office. I don’t see the problem with going there instead of Shinagawa. I must warn, however, that it is a small, very very out of the way place to get to. There are no buses that take you there directly like Shinagawa. Even by car, it’s quite hard to get to. I usually walk from the station which is about 15-20 minutes. Also, it is staffed by a lot less people so there are times you might have to wait a bit regardless of the crowd; but I have never waited more than an hour for what I have gone there to do. If you’re up for a trek, it is definitely not as crowded, but staffed by fewer people. How long you wait will really depend on those two factors.

  • About Tachikawa:
    I believe you have to live a certain part of western Tokyo to be able to use it.
    Check before you go, or run the risk of being turned away after making the trip.
    Now back to your regularly scheduled topic…

  • Have to disagree about Saitama Kita-Yono – the staff there have been blunt to the point of surliness whenever I’ve been there, they all pride themselves on never speaking a word of anything but Japanese*, and when I had the GOD DAMNED TEMERITY to ask a question (in Japanese) to try and clarify something one of the officers said, he got the right hump.

    Shin-Yurigaoka, on the other hand, gets my vote. It’s an express stop on the Odakyu Line, the office is near the station, and the officers are helpful and speak English.

    * yes, yes, I know, “want to live in Japan, you should speak Japanese then” – but sadly it isn’t possible to magic up a JLPT1 out of thin air. I don’t expect Immigration officers to speak Swahili, Latvian or Late West Saxon, but come on, English is the international language – otherwise why would it be on every railway sign throughout this entire country?


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