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Permission for Permanent Residence

Requirements for Permanent Residence

According to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, the permission requirements for foreigners to apply for a change of the visa status to “Permanent Resident” are defined as follows (special permanent residents excluded):

“Persons accepted by the Minster of Justice”

  1. The person must be of good conduct.
  2. The person must have sufficient assets or skill to earn one’s own living.

Permanent Residence will be granted, provided that the person is complying with the requirements under 1. and 2., and the Minister of Justice recognizes that the person’s permanent residence is in accord with the interests of Japan.

The requirements above are ambiguous and very hard to understand. In concrete terms, at the present time, they can be summarized as follows:

  1. The applicant has no prior criminal record or record of protective measures under Juvenile Law.
  2. The applicant performs his or her duties such as public obligations.
  3. The applicant lives daily life as a resident without being an object of contempt of society.
  4. The applicant lives life without placing a burden on the public.
  5. Based on his or her assets owned or skill, the applicant has the potential to live a stable life in the future.
  6. Permitting permanent residence to the applicant is recognized to be in the social and economic interests of Japan.

Thus, the Minister of Justice decides based on vast discretion in view of all kinds of circumstances, such as the capability of the Japanese society to integrate foreigners depending on the state of the nation, population trends, and the current internal and external situation regarding immigration control (“Gaikokujin no nyukoku/zairyu tetsuzuki”, Houritsu Joho Shuppan K.K.).

Other qualifications

  • The applicant has lived in Japan for more than 10 years continuously.
  • That is, the applicant has continuously kept the status of residence by applying for the change of visa status or the extension of period of stay, and has always obtained a “Re-entry Permit” before leaving the country.

  • The applicant has lived in Japan for more than 5 years after changing the status of residence from a “Trainee” or “Student” visa to a status of residence permitting work. (Since a student is not considered to have Japan as the base and center of his or her life.)
  • The applicant is a Spouse, born child, or Special Adopted Child of a Japanese national, Permanent Resident, or Special Permanent Resident.

Spouse: It is necessary to live in Japan for more than 3 years after getting married. However, if the spouses got married and lived together overseas, it is sufficient to have been married (and lived together) for 3 years, and lived in Japan for more than 1 year.

Born or Special Adopted Child: It is sufficient to have lived in Japan for more than 1 year continuously.

  • The applicant has a Long-Term Resident "Teijusha" visa and has lived in Japan for more than 5 years after being granted the permission for long-term residence.
  • The applicant is a Recognized Refugee and has lived in Japan for more than a year.
  • The applicant is an Indochinese Long-Term Refugee and has lived in Japan for more than 5 years.
  • The applicant has an expiring Long-Term Resident "Teijusha" visa and has lived in Japan for more than 5 years after being granted the permission for long-term residence.
  • The applicant received recognition for diplomatic, social, economic, cultural, or other contributions to Japan and has lived in Japan for more than 5 years.
  • Furthermore, the period of the status of residence held by the applicant has to be the longest possible Period of Stay as specified by immigration law. (For example, in case of a Humanities and International Services visa, a status of residence with a Period of Stay of 3 years is required when applying for permanent residence permission.)

Note that even when fulfilling the requirements above, the visa status change to a Permanent Resident status is not always accepted. The Minister of Justice grants this status only upon stringently screening the applicant.

In addition, it is important that the applicant must apply for an Extension of Stay, if the current visa may expire during the period of the application for permanent residence.

Other important reminders

  • Traffic accidents and the number of traffic violations may cause problems.
  • Is the applicant properly paying taxes?
  • Proof of income from previous applications and documents used to apply for permanent residence should not be contradictory.
  • The applicant should not be out of Japan for long periods.

Permanent Resident after receiving Special Permission to Stay

In recent cases regarding spouses of Japanese nationals or Permanent Residents, who had received Special Permission to Stay, 5 years after obtaining the Special Permission to Stay have become a standard for the approval of a status of residence change.