how to stay in Japan after getting divorced

Clearly getting divorced can be a very difficult time but it is still important to be aware of what needs to be done. If you gain residential status as a Japanese spouse by getting married to a Japanese national, you will lose that status by getting divorced. First you have to report the divorce to the Immigration office using Notification of Relationship with Spouse within 14 days after the divorce. ( If you fail to report this on time, you will be fined up to 200,000 yen ) Although you will not lose the residential status as a Japanese spouse immediately it is advisable to apply to change it to the appropriate one in good time, because 6 months after the divorce, the immigration office may revoke your spouse visa as they know that you are no longer qualified as a spouse of Japanese national.

There are many things to deal with in this situation and you can’t really afford to lose time.

1. What to do after a divorce

There are many reasons that a marriage might end and the divorce itself will consume much of your thoughts and time. However it is also important to consider what you might do after getting divorced from your Japanese spouse. Will you be  going back to your own country or staying in Japan? If you want to stay in Japan, what kind of visa are you going to apply for?

You also need to check how a divorce is performed and is recognized legally in your own country. The criteria and processes vary depending on your nationality and some of them could take a long time and might even involve some costs.

So before you take the actual step, think it over and at least check these things first. If you want to talk about this, and ask for some advice, please feel free to contact us . We can think of the best solution together.

2. How to register your divorce

2-1. Register your divorce with Japanese officials

If you live in Japan and want to get divorced from your Japanese spouse here in Japan, Japanese law is applicable.

In Japan, when both partners agree to a divorce you can get divorced by submitting a Registration of Divorce Form ( Rikon Todoke ) to a city / ward office. This process is known as Divorce by agreement ( Kyogi Rikon ).

If you take this process, you need to submit the following to a city / ward office which deals with the area in which you live.

  1. Registration of Divorce Form ( Rikon Todoke ) * This needs to be signed (stamped with hanko) by two witnesses who are over 20 years old. * If you have a child, you must state who will maintain parental authority.
  2. A passport and residence card ( zairyu card ) * Japanese spouse should bring her / his passport as an identification too.
  3. A residence record ( Jumin hyo ) for you
  4. A certificate of Family Registry ( Koseki tohon) for Japanese spouse * If you submit a Registration of Divorce form to the office which deals with the Japanese spouse’s permanent address, then this is not required.
  5. A notification of changes of name by divorce * If Japanese spouse wants to change his / her surname back to the previous one, this needs to be submitted.

Once this is accepted by a city / ward office, please get a certificate of declaration of divorce ( Rikon Todoke Juri Shomei sho ). This is the proof that your divorce registration process was done officially at a city / ward office in Japan.

2-2. Notification of Relationship with Spouse

When you are officially divorced from your Japanese spouse, you have to inform the immigration office within 14 days. You can download the format from the website of the Ministry of Justice and fill it out, then, take it to the immigration office.

2-3. Register your divorce at your home embassy / consulate

It depends on your nationality, whether / how to register your divorce at your home embassy / consulate office in Japan. In some countries, if divorces are legally performed and valid abroad, it is also valid in these countries, therefore they don’t register your divorce at your home embassy / consulate. If you have to register your divorce at your home embassy / consulate office ( or directly to the registration office in your country ), please follow the instructions given by the embassy / consulate office.

3. Change your residential status

3-1. Who can apply for a “ Long Term Resident “

Since you are no longer a spouse of a Japanese national, you have to change your residential status to the appropriate one. It depends on your situation as to what type of residential status can be granted.

If you can go back to school to study in Japan, you can apply for a student visa. If your qualifications match any of Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services working visa categories and you can find a job under this category, you can apply for one of these.

There is another possible choice : “ Long Term Resident”. This is granted by taking each applicant’s special situation into consideration. The “ special situation “ can include divorced spouses who take care of their child who is  a Japanese national. With this visa, you can get engaged in any type of work, similar to holding a Japanese spouse visa. But even if there is no child involved, there are some cases that this Long Term Resident visa can be granted.

Let’s take a look at the case of a Vietnamese woman.

She was married to a Japanese man for 5 years after being a student for 3 years in Japan. She has been running a Vietnamese restaurant by herself. The restaurant is not registered as a company but she is registered as the sole proprietor and making enough money to cover her living and pay taxes.

In summary:

  • She has lived in Japan long enough to say that her living base is in Japan
  • She can make a living by running the restaurant and has paid tax without delay
  • She has been a good resident

This can be recognized as a special situation.

3-2. How and where can I apply for “Long Term Residence”?

The application for Change of Status of Residence can be submitted by the applicant himself / herself, or a nationally licensed immigration lawyer ( gyoseishoshi ) can do it for you.

In the above case, the necessary documents are listed below:

  1. An application form ( Change of Status of Residence )
  2. A passport and residence card ( Zairyu card ) * You have to show them at the immigration office
  3. A portrait photo ( 4 cm x 3 cm )
  4. A certificate of Family Registry ( Koseki tohon) from her previous husband * This is to show that she was married to this man before and now divorced from him
  5. A copy of business license ( Eigyou kyoka shou )
  6. A copy of tax return with the seal of reception of the tax office ( Kakutei shinkokusho no utsushi , juryouin )
  7. The most recent tax payment certificate ( Nouzei shoumei sho / Kazei shoumei sho ) * This is to show how much money you have earned in total as well as whether you have paid tax or not.
  8. Your CV / resume / Leaflet of your restaurant / a menu / pictures of the restaurant * These depends on the request from the immigration office. You might need more.
  9. A letter of guarantee and your guarantor’s statement of earned income ( Gensen choushu hyou ), a certificate of employment ( Zaishoku shoumei sho ) and the most recent tax payment certificate ( Nouzei shoumei sho / Kazei shoumei sho )

* Fee : 4000 yen for changing the status of residence and payment must be made with revenue stamps
* The documents you submit will not be returned to you.
* Please use documents / certificates which have been issued within the 3 months prior to your application.
* If any of the documents are written in another language, please attach the Japanese translation.

Once you prepare these, go to the immigration office which deals with the area in which you live and apply for it.

Our services

With the above information, you should have a good idea of what to do when you get divorced from a Japanese national. Although you probably still need to find out more by yourself by contacting your home embassy / consulate office about the divorce itself, you should be confident enough to handle changing your visa ( status of residence ) after a divorce.

However if:

  • You don’t have time to go to the immigration office
  • You are still not confident enough to do this on your own
  • You want to do it on your own, but you want the prepared documents to be checked

In these cases, Visa Navi Japan can offer you the exact support you want.

We can check the documents that you prepared and can also both prepare the documents and take the application form to the immigration office for you as Visa Navi Japan is a nationally licensed immigration lawyer ( gyoseishoshi ).

Contact us

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Do you want to talk to someone about Japan visa after divorce? Please feel free to contact me. I can be your help.

If you want to make an inquiry about how to stay in Japan after divorce, please fill out the form on the Contact us page and send it to us. We will get back to you in a few days.




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