In September 2014, I celebrated my 9th anniversary in Japan. It had been about a year since my most recent visa was renewed and I got a 3 year visa. I was unofficially allowed to apply for Permanent Residency in Japan. For Japan, you are almost guaranteed to get Permanent Residency if you have lived in Japan for over 10 years, but I heard there is a loophole where if your visa expires after your 10 years you should be capable of obtaining your Permanent Residency. Legally, if you are married you need to be in Japan for 3 years and for non-married people it is 5 years. For people who aren’t married, it is really difficult to get your Permanent Residency in less than 10 years.
I started this adventure early in 2014 but I kept procrastinating and putting things off. There were a lot of reasons to do this. I first attempted to find out all of the documents that would be required. I did a lot of research into this and very few of them had the information I needed. Almost everything talked about what was needed if you were a spouse of a Japanese national. Obviously that wasn’t happening for me so I had to apply under a regular situation. The application process is very similar and mainly varies on the documents you need. You don’t need as many documents but you do have to run around to many places to get it.
LIST ALL DOCUMENTS NEEDED
- Photo (4 cm x 3 cm)
- Letter of intent
- Tax payment forms (National 3 years) 300JPY each (2 sheets) (納税証明書 Note: First kanji may be incorrect)
- Tax payment forms (City & Prefecture 3 years) 300JPY each (3 sheets) (特別区民税・都民税 課税証明書)
- Residency registration form 300JPY (住民票)
- Residency registration (Prior to 2012 from the Ministry of Justice) (外国人登録原票に係る開示請求について)
- Bank Statement
- Guarantor Letter of Guarantee
- Guarantor Residency Registration (住民票)
- Guarantor Tax payment forms (City 1 year) 300JPY each (1 sheet) (特別区民税・都民税 課税証明書)
- Guarantor proof of employment or something equivalent
- Residency Card (在留カード)
Note: These documents are for self employed people or contractors. People employed by a company don’t need as many forms but I’m unsure as to what is or isn’t needed. If you are married, you may need extra forms such as a family register as proof of marriage. Any extra documents needed to apply for a Spouse Visa should also apply here.
As you can see, there is a long list of documents and a lot of them cannot be obtained in the same place. The first is the application. It is pretty easy to get but some of the information required was a little difficult to understand. Under “History”, they actually wanted to know what your work/education history is in Japan since you arrived. I had to get a small clarification from friends before I could fill it out. The other problem was for my guarantor; the Saviour is my guarantor and while she is my girlfriend, she is also my partner. I ended up writing “partner” to make things a lot easier and seem like we are almost married. The rest of it was pretty simple.
The hardest thing to do was my letter of intent. The letter of intent should be written in Japanese or translated into Japanese. I spent a good part of 3 months getting it done with my Japanese teacher and by the end I was sick of it. I know I could have finished it a lot earlier but trying to get things just right and get the keigo (formal and polite Japanese) was very difficult. I still can’t understand what I wrote exactly.
The tax forms were easy to get but a pain in the ass. I had to go to 2 different offices to get the forms. I had to first go to the local national tax office and talk with them. I had to go alone which made things take longer than it should have. All I needed was forms to show how much I had paid in the previous 3 tax seasons. Thankfully I allowed an hour, but only needed 30 minutes. In reality, if your Japanese is really good you can get it done in 15 or less.
The city tax forms had to be done at the city hall. I went down there and thankfully the Saviour took the morning off to help me. I was able to get my forms within 15 minutes and I was out the door. I actually waited a few months to get this as I wanted to get them for my city office. Having moved to my current apartment about 4 years ago in 2014, I was on the border to getting all 3 years, so waiting a few extra months meant I didn’t have to go to my old city hall to get the information.
Getting the residency forms was also pretty easy. With the changes in the law, I was now officially registered in the city registry. I could easily get the document with the Saviour. She took the morning off to help me get this form as well as one for herself as a guarantor, and also to get my tax payment forms. All in all, it was a simple task.
Bank statements are pretty easy to get. If you have a bank book, that is much easier. You just show it to them and I’d recommend bringing a copy at the same time. That way they can verify that they saw the original. I had to call my bank and get them to send me a copy which only took a couple days. They took the original copy and I didn’t care.
The guarantor application is actually a simple form and almost all of the questions they ask are also on the formal application. They just need a duplicate with the guarantor’s signature. The only qualification to be a guarantor is to be a Japanese citizen or a permanent resident. Your own friends can be a guarantor if they are a permanent resident. No, I won’t be your guarantor. :p
I have read that they want proof of employment for your guarantor and while I did attempt to get it, I didn’t end up getting it from the Saviour in the end, for 2014.
Lastly, you just need your passport and residency card but that is pretty self-explanatory.
Going to the immigration office in Tokyo has always been the bane of my existence. I have never enjoyed it, and I curse every time I have to go there. When going there, you never really know who is going to get your application, check your application, or how they’ll treat you. This time, I ended up waiting about 30 minutes to get through the document check line. I had everything ready and everything organized in a relatively organized manner. I made sure to put things in an order I thought was relevant. When I finally got to the counter, the guy looked at my documents and within a minute, they were back in my hand and I had my number. I was 113, and the current number being served was 91. I couldn’t help but feel I jumped the line a little.
The wait to see someone was only 15 minutes, a lot faster than I had expected. I did my usual scurry up to the counter and handed my documents to the official. She was a nice person in general and just looked at everything. I got my usual document saying that my application was in place and a card to write my address. I was told to I would have to wait 4-12 months to get a response. I could have only hope it would come sooner rather than later.
After about 5 months, I got a reply. Initially I didn’t realize that I had gotten a reply since the document that came was actually registered mail. When I did get it I was crushed as my application was rejected. From what I could tell I was rejected because I wasn’t in Japan for 10 years. I even asked the Saviour to double check it and while she didn’t really understand the reason completely, I didn’t press her and just accepted my own personal thoughts.
A simple 6 month wait ensued and by September of 2015 I was back to getting the documents I needed. I did the same run around and got all of the same documents, plus a few changes.
The first time I did my residency forms, I didn’t notice that the form only showed residency from 2012 and on. It was the date that the system changed from the old “Alien Card” to “Residence Card”, and my old information was sent to the Ministry of Justice and I no longer had any information about my residency at the city ward office. In fact, I learned that they only keep about 5 years of documentation, so if you want to show you have been in Japan longer, you do have to get your older records. This won’t be a problem in a few years and I’m not sure if this is why I didn’t get my PR the first time, but I didn’t chance it my second time.
In order to get the document from the Ministry of Justice, you need to either go there in person or apply for the document in the mail. You can download the form and print it out and fill it in yourself. I had the Saviour help me with this. Once you have it done, you just go to the local post office, get a 300 yen Shunyuinshi (収入印紙) which is an official payment stamp, and a couple stamps for both sending the application to the Ministry of Justice as well as a return stamped envelope for the return document. Don’t forget a copy of your own legal document. I used my driver’s license for this.
For my second round, I also forgot a couple of other documents. I believe I obtained the wrong document for my taxes, although I think I just forgot one of them. I might have forgotten my city/prefectural tax forms but I had no problems getting it. I also needed to get the Saviour’s employment status from her work. When I applied, the officer actually asked me to get the documents and send it to the office, and I was happy to be asked as it gave me a ray of hope that I would get my Permanent Residency the second time around.
After being rejected at the Shinagawa branch of Immigration, I decided to head out to Tachikawa and try my luck there for the second time. I really hate going to Shinagawa. After going there for just under 10 years, things have gotten a lot better but it is a place I really hate to visit. I heard that the Tachikawa branch is easier as well as faster. While there are a lot less people who visit the Tachikawa branch, it is not necessarily faster. I had less people in front of me, but since I arrived just before lunch, it ended up taking just as long because at lunch they reduce the number of staff there.
It took just under 5 months to get my reply this time, and my result was SUCCESS!!! Unlike the first time, I didn’t get any registered mail but I got the regular postcard. At first I thought it was related to my “My Number” card as there was writing about requiring a photo, but as I looked at it closely I noticed my own hand writing for the address and I quickly started to shake with joy! As I read the card carefully and started to jump for joy while holding back screams of elation. In fact, I just wanted to listen to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”, to which I did after taking care of a few things around the house. I was way too happy and in need of a few drinks, and that’s what I did to celebrate.
After the card came in the mail, everything is the same as when you apply for any visa in Japan or when you renew your visa. You just go back to the immigration office that you originally visited and exchange your residence card. Within a week I was able to get my new Permanent Residency card and I was officially a Permanent Resident of Japan. Of course you still have to pay for the administration fee, 8000 JPY, and wait in line again, but it is a small price to pay to be able to say that you are free and can do anything, within the law, in Japan.
With my new found PR status, you can be sure that I am no longer worried about my work situation. If I lose my job I’ll be jobless but still able to stay in Japan. I can change jobs without worrying about my visa status and with my new company I can focus all of my attention there if I have to without any worries about working long enough at my current teaching job. Needless to say the freedom is very welcomed and I am extremely happy with the situation.
Update (2017-05-12): I have updated this post with the names of some forms in Japanese. I have also added a few more links to help you find what you need quickly.
- Permanent Residency (Immigration Bureau of Japan)
- Permanent Residency Process (Immigration Bureau of Japan)
- Application for Permanent Residence (Immigration Bureau of Japan)
- Application form for Permanent Residence (Ministry of Justice – English & Japanese)
- 1st attempt at permanent residency in Japan denied (A Little Shop in Tokyo)
Love the photos! 🙂 I need to study this in more detail: last December was my 10th birthday in Japan. Interestingly enough, I’ve now decided that I will, after all, return to SA, despite everybody back home telling me I shouldn’t because the country’s collapsing. So I might as well apply for residency just in case …
Happy you liked the photos. Studying my aging process over the past 10 years? 😉
Wait, you are returning to SA?!?!?!?!?! Oh no! When are you planning to go back? I’m sure life can be easier back home. Just remember to bring a samurai sword and leave the knockerbie to me. At least after you get your PR, you have to come back every year or you lose it. You’ll still be able to enjoy Japan, but more as a tourist.
Hello Dru, thanks for this but just to clarify, Based on the following you said, i pasted below…
“The first time I did my residency forms, I didn’t notice that the form only showed residency from 2012 and on. It was the date that the system changed from the old “Alien Card” to “Residence Card”, and my old information was sent to the Ministry of Justice and I no longer had any information about my residency at the city ward office. In fact, I learned that they only keep about 5 years of documentation, so if you want to show you have been in Japan longer, you do have to get your older records. This won’t be a problem in a few years and I’m not sure if this is why I didn’t get my PR the first time, but I didn’t chance it my second time. In order to get the document from the Ministry of Justice, you need to either go there in person or apply for the document in the mail. You can download the form and print it out and fill it in yourself. I had the Saviour help me with this. Once you have it done, you just go to the local post office, get a 300 yen Shunyuinshi (収入印紙) which is an official payment stamp, and a couple stamps for both sending the application to the Ministry of Justice as well as a return stamped envelope for the return document. Don’t forget a copy of your own legal document. I used my driver’s license for this.”
Is this still necessary? if you mentioned that they probably rejected you because you have not been in Japan for 10 years, is this still valid i.e. the Ministry of Justice papers to prove your 10 year mark. Also, what is the document called and can you please highlight the procedure and maybe a link to get the form? i have a drivers license from Japan. thanks for your prompt response.
I applied and got my PR within the past year, as evident by this post. Basically, I cannot confirm nor deny what is necessary. I can only confirm what happened and what I believe to be the case.
Regarding the need for the document from the Ministry of Justice, I honestly do not know. When I tried in 2014, I had another year to go before I hit my 10 year mark. When I applied last year, I wanted to cross all of my “t’s” and dot all the i’s. I can only say that it will not hurt to have the forms. When applying, they only take a copy of it and return the original to you.
If you want to get the document to be safe, you can get it here: http://www.moj.go.jp/hisho/bunsho/hisho02_00016.html
I am not 100% sure if this is the correct one, but it should be. You may want to get someone to check for you. The application is the PDF link in that link.
Good luck on getting your own PR!
I was looking for informations and found this post.
I was wondering, for your 1st try, did you receive the same “postal-card” that you received for your second try ? (this one : http://blog.hinomaple.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/PR-Postcard.jpg)
I’m asking because I applied too, and received the card, but I wonder if it’s more like a yes (you received it for your 2nd try) or a no (maybe you didn’t get this card on the 1st try)
For my first try, I did not receive the same postcard. I received a letter via registered mail informing me that my application was denied. Basically, the postcard via regular mail means yes! Congrats then!
Thanks for your advice, we got our PR Also can tou recommend a good japanese school? After 10yrs my japanese is still not at par Thnks
Congratulations! Welcome to the club. 🙂
I know the feeling. I need to keep working to improve my Japanese too. I don’t actually go to a formal school. My friend’s wife is my teacher but she moved to New Jersey several years ago. I now do Skype lessons with her. If you are looking for something face to face, I’m afraid I don’t know anyone, but if you want to try her lessons, I’m happy to give a reference.
Thank you so much. Yes if she doesnt mind, i would love to try. Considering time difference, how does that work too?..lol! Looking forward to your reply 🙂 and hope she doesnt charge much too
I just talked to my teacher and she is happy to talk to you about her system. I will e-mail you her e-mail and a few other details too.
Thanks Dru! Look forward to it and the mail. Happy new year in advance 🙂
No problem. Happy New Year to you too!
Hi nice write up and great pics! I have one small question you may know the answer as google hasn’t helped.
So, got permanent residency back in Dec 2007. Recently my passport expired (non japanese passport of course).
A long time ago we had to transfer any visas etc from the old passport to the new one.
The newish “Residence card,” means re-entry for trips less than a year are not necessary. But. Can I just use my new passport as is? Or do I need to get some new stamp or whatever in the new one? The only info I could find was that all information is on the new type resi card for permanent residents and no further action is needed. Also the lack of info on this makes me think I need do nothing for my two week trip to the U.K. (present NEW passport only, and Residence card).
Do you know if this is correct? Just to be sure. Thanks again!!
Thanks for the kind words.
Regarding a new passport, I am under the impression that your visa is tied to your card, rather name, not your passport. Please don’t quote me as this being true as I have yet to test it myself. With a regular work visa I did change my passport but didn’t have to do anything special. I don’t even have a stamp in my passport for being a permanent resident. The new cards don’t have your passport number on it so there is no connection with it and your passport. If you are really worried, bring your old passport with you and it should link with your details if necessary.
For an official answer, you should call the Ministry of Justice, and feel free to share the information with me. 🙂
Hi Dru, thanks for those comforting and logical words. You are probably right, like 99%. Haven’t heard any different.
Much appreciated. Cheers!
Hi Dru, sorry for commenting on this old post but I have a very important question to ask:
You managed to get your PR without beeing married and I heard from several different sources that it’s almost impossible to get one under these conditions if you’re not a Highly Skilled person who can give proof of great contribution to Japan (inventions, patents, etc.).
So, what are the factors that enabled you to get one in your opinion?
Thanks for the comment and sorry to take so long to respond.
One disclaimer, I’m not a lawyer or legal assistant, so everything I say is based on speculation and opinions on my part. 🙂
For PR, you don’t have to be married and you don’t need to be highly skilled or have proof of a great contribution to Japan (inventions, patents, etc.). While these really help, it is not necessary. The only factor to getting PR is time. Unless you have done a major crime, you are more than likely to get approved for PR after 10 years of residency in Japan. Other factors that can hamper you is poor income. If you make enough money and you can show your income is steady, then you should be okay. For 10 years I was able to increase my income, even if it was slightly, each year. Holding a steady job is another big factor. I have been working for the same eikaiwa the entire time I have been in Japan, so that must have been a factor too. Stability is the key here. If you change jobs a lot, especially within the last couple years, I think it might make things difficult. If you held a job for a long time and changed recently, it might make things difficult, but not impossible.
The only factor for “highly skilled” that they probably look for is a university degree. Without it, it is hard to get in. Generally, most visas to Japan require a university degree of some sort, so as long as that is okay (which I’d assume to be true), then you shouldn’t have any problems. Again, it is harder to get PR, but not impossible.
For contributing to Japan, it depends on your job. If your job has a method of contributing to Japan, then great! Any job can look as if you are contributing. If you teach elementary school students, you are helping students learn English to help the Japanese economy in the future. I teach adults, so that is much easier as it is a direct link when I help with presentations and such. Make sure it is written in Japanese too. I had mine checked a couple times before I submitted it.
Last thing to remember, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted the first time. Just apply again. It doesn’t hurt your visa.