Bring your spouse and family to Japan

Bringing your family to Japan

The following is the story of a woman from Thailand who met her Japanese husband in Thailand.

He had been seconded to one a subsidiary of his Japanese company for two years. She was also working at this company and they had both been involved with the same project. They dated for a year and a half and then decided to get married. They had a wedding ceremony and their marriage registered in both countries. After his 2 years of secondment were over, he returned to Japan first, sorting out housing and a couple of other things to start their new life together.

So, do you think his wife can move to Japan and live with him without any issues?

In their case, the marriage is clearly genuine, however it is a fact that there are a number of false marriages reported every year in Japan. These false marriages are criminal acts ( False Entries in the Original of Notarized Deeds )as false documents ( false registration of marriage ) are submitted to officials. This could lead to 5 years in prison or up to a 500,000 yen fine.

For her to move to Japan to start a newly married life, she needs to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for “ Spouse or Child of Japanese National “ from her husband in Japan. With this certificate, she can apply for a spouse visa in Thailand first. Through the process of obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility, the immigration office will check if their marriage is genuine,  and she has proper reason to come and live in Japan. This may be unpleasant as their marriage is genuine, but, she has to go through this process together with her husband to be able to start her new life in Japan.

1. Conditions for entering Japan

Even if you are married to a Japanese national and have the right to live there, you still need to make sure that you meet the other requirements to enter Japan. Listed below are the major requirements.

  1. Hold a valid passport issued by the government of your country
  2. Purpose of your visit / stay is true and matches one of the visa types
  3. Duration of stay requested is available within the law.
  4. You must provide information for personal identification such as finger prints and pictures
  5. The applicant does not meet any of the conditions restricted from entering Japan such as:
    ● You are suffering from any infectious disease like a new or reemerging influenza strain.
    ● You have been sentenced to imprisonment in Japan or in any other countries for a year or more or, to any equivalent penalties including suspended sentences.
    ● You have been convicted of violation relating to the control of any psychotropic substances and have been sentenced to a penalty in Japan or in any other countries.
    ● You have been deported from Japan within the past 5 years ( or if you have been deported from Japan twice, in the last 10 years )
    ● You have departed from Japan under a departure order pursuant within the past  year.
    ● You have been denied landing within the past year.
    ● You have engaged in prostitution or any other business directly connected with prostitution.
    * Listed here are the major conditions

As you can see, there are other requirements to be met in order to enter Japan, holding an appropriate visa is only one of them. Therefore, if any of these requirements are not met, you are likely to be refused entry to Japan even if you have a Japanese spouse waiting for you.

2. Moving to Japan

2-1. Who can bring family members as “ Dependent “ to Japan

If you are a non-Japanese person working / studying in Japan, and thinking of bringing your wife and children over here, you have to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for “ Dependent “ for them first.

Listed below are the types of visa holders who can apply for this for his / her family members:

Professor, Artist, Religious Activities, Journalist, Business Manager, Legal / Accounting Services, Medical Services, Researcher, Instructor, Skilled Labor, Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services, Intra-company Transferee, Entertainer, Cultural Activities, Student

You can’t bring all of your family members, you can bring your wife and children only, no brothers and sisters not even your parents. And the duration of stay is the same as you as they come to Japan to be supported by you. And, the most important thing is that you look after them through your income.
“ Dependent “ visa holder can get a part time job if he / she applies for a permission in advance but it’s better to not count on this as a part of  your income.

* If you have to bring your parent because there is no one to look after him or her and he or she is very old, then your parent comes to Japan as a tourist and tries to change from a tourist to “ Designated Activity “. This is not easy, so if you are thinking of bringing your parent, you need to prepare a lot in advance.

* If you are the same sex married couple, and thinking of bringing your same sex spouse,  then he / she comes to Japan as a tourist first and tries to change from a tourist to “ Designated Activity “. This was officially announced by the Ministry of Justice on October, 2013 but not many people are aware of the process. I have dealt with the many same sex married couples, so if you would like to know more, please read this page and contact to us.

* For people who hold a “ Designated Activity “ visa, not all of them can bring their family. It depends on what kind of designated activities they are engaged in. ( Therefore, you should look into the case individually.)

2-2. Who can move to Japan as a “ Spouse “

If you are married to a Japanese national, your spouse in Japan can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for “ Spouse or Child of Japanese National “ for you, and If you are married to non-Japanese person, holding a “ Permanent “ visa, then your spouse in Japan can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for ” Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident ” for you.

* If you are married to a non-Japanese person, holding a “ Long Term Resident “ or “ Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident “visa, then your spouse in Japan can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for ” Long Term Resident ” for you.

Again, your spouse in Japan needs to prove that he / she can look after you financially. This is a very important point. Even when the marriage is genuine and this is the reason for coming to and living in Japan, if the immigration office thinks that your spouse in Japan can not support you the application will be rejected.

3. How and where to apply for this?

Basically, you have to apply for a visa in your country first. To do so, you have to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from Japan.

Let’s take a look at the previous case of the girl from Thailand.

In her case, the couple were both in Thailand and dated for 1.5 years, this means they can easily prove that their marriage is true by showing photos and other documents. Their marriage was established based on the law in Thailand, and they then registered the marriage in Japan, this means they can get a marriage certificate ( or equivalent ) from officials easily in both countries. Her husband has got a job, and had arranged a place to live, this means he can support her fully when she comes to Japan.

3-1. What the Japanese spouse needs to prepare

The first thing to do is for your Japanese spouse to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for “Spouse or Child of Japanese National “ , or a nationally licensed immigration lawyer ( gyoseishoshi ) can do it for your Japanese spouse.

The necessary documents are below:

  1. The application form for Certificate of Eligibility
  2. A photocopy of passport
  3. A portrait photo ( 4cm x 3cm )
  4. Return-mail envelope affixed with stamps worth 404 yen ( recorded delivery )
  5. A residence record of the entire family ( Jumin hyou ) for your Japanese spouse
  6. A certificate of Family Registry ( Koseki tohon) for your Japanese spouse which declares their marriage
  7. A marriage certificate issued by your country * If your country doesn’t issue marriage certificates, please get the equivalent and send it to your Japanese spouse
  8. A letter of guarantee ( Mimoto hoshou sho ) * Your Japanese spouse is the guarantor
  9. Personal details form ( Shitsumon sho ) * You have to explain how you and your Japanese spouse met, how you communicate with each other etc.
  10. A couple of photos of you and your Japanese spouse together
  11. A certificate of employment ( Zaishoku shoumei sho ) of your Japanese spouse
  12. The most recent tax payment certificate ( nouzei shoumei sho / kazei shoumei sho ) of your Japanese spouse * This is to show how much money your Japanese spouse earned in total as well as whether he/she has paid tax or not.

* Fee : No charge
* 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 prepare all the above documents, make 2 sets of photocopy of them. ( 1 set of photocopy should be sent to you together with the granted certificate. you might need them in case there are some questions from the Japanese embassy / consulate when you apply for a visa in your country )

Once these are prepared, your Japanese spouse needs to go to the immigration office which deals with the area in which your Japanese spouse lives and apply for it. After a month to 3 months, the certificate will be granted if the immigration office finds no issues on the application form and the attached documents.

3-2 : Apply, and get a visa

When the certificate and other documents arrive, go to the Japanese embassy / consulate which deals with the areas in which you live and apply for a visa. ( Please check with the Japanese embassy / consulate what necessary documents are apart from a certificate of Eligibility beforehand. It depends on your country what to attach to the application form ) If everything is OK, you will be called in to get a passport with a visa.

* Even if you obtain the Certificate of Eligibility, the officer at the Japanese embassy / consulate still go through all the documents. If they find anything suspicious and find there is no reason for you to reside in Japan, then the visa won’t be granted.

Our services

With the above information, you should have a good idea of what to do if you want to bring your family here to Japan or to move to Japan as a spouse.

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
  • You simply don’t like to go into the immigration office ( I never liked it myself when I was living abroad )

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

We can check the documents that you prepared, or we can 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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Bringing your family to Japan? Please feel free to contact me if you need any support on this matter.

If you want to make an inquiry about a spouse visa, bringing families to Japan, 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.



Visa Navi Japan
Naka-ku, Hiroshima-city
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