Navigating the transition after a divorce involves critical steps, especially when it comes to your residential status. If you obtained residential status as a Japanese spouse through marriage to a Japanese national, it’s vital to acknowledge that this status will be forfeited upon divorce, so swift action is necessary!
Within 14 days of the divorce, you must report this significant life event to the Immigration office using the Notification of Relationship with Spouse form. (Failure to do so promptly may result in fines of up to 200,000 yen.)
While the loss of residential status as a Japanese spouse isn’t immediate, it is prudent to proactively apply for a change to the appropriate status. Delaying this transition could have consequences; six months after the divorce, the Immigration office may revoke your spouse visa, recognizing the changed circumstances.
This period demands swift and informed decisions. Time is of the essence, given the multifaceted aspects that need attention in such situations.
1. Planning Life After Divorce
The end of a marriage demands significant contemplation, with the divorce process consuming both your thoughts and time. Amidst this, it’s crucial to contemplate your post-divorce plans, especially if your Japanese spouse is involved. The pivotal question arises: Will you return to your home country, or is staying in Japan your preference? If it’s the latter, the next consideration is the type of visa you intend to apply for.
Understanding the legal aspects of divorce in your home country is equally important. The criteria and processes vary based on nationality, potentially involving extended timelines and associated costs. Before embarking on this journey, take the time to reflect and investigate these aspects. If you find yourself needing guidance or simply wish to discuss your situation, feel free to reach out. （問い合わせにリンク）Together, we can explore the best solutions for your unique circumstances.
2. How to Register Your Divorce
2-1. Registering Your Divorce with Japanese Officials
If you reside in Japan and wish to initiate a divorce from your Japanese spouse within the country, Japanese law is applicable to your situation.
In Japan, when both partners mutually agree to divorce, you can proceed by submitting a “Registration of Divorce Form” (Rikon Todoke) to the local city/ward office. This process is known as “Divorce by Agreement” (Kyogi Rikon).
Requirements for Divorce by Agreement:
- Registration of Divorce Form (Rikon Todoke): This form must be signed (and stamped with a hanko) by two witnesses over 20 years old. In cases involving children, you must specify who will retain parental authority.
- Passport and Residence Card (Zairyu Card): The Japanese spouse should also bring their passport for identification purposes.
- Residence Record (Juminhyo): This pertains to your residence.
- Certificate of Family Registry (Koseki Tohon) for a Japanese Spouse: This is not required if you submit the Registration of Divorce form to the office dealing with the Japanese spouse’s permanent address.
- Notification of Changes of Name by Divorce: If the Japanese spouse wishes to revert to their previous surname, this document needs to be submitted.
Upon acceptance by the city/ward office, obtain a “Certificate of Declaration of Divorce” (Rikon Todoke Juri Shomei Sho). This certificate serves as official proof that your divorce registration has been successfully processed at a city/ward office in Japan.
2-2. Notification of Relationship with Spouse
After finalizing your divorce from a Japanese spouse, it is essential to inform the immigration office within 14 days. You can download the required format from the Ministry of Justice’s website, complete it, and then submit it to the immigration office.
2-3. Registering Your Divorce at Your Home Embassy/Consulate
The process of registering your divorce at your home embassy/consulate office in Japan varies based on your nationality. Some countries recognize divorces conducted abroad as valid without requiring registration, while others mandate registration at the embassy/consulate or directly with the home country’s registration office.
Understanding and adhering to these post-divorce procedures is crucial, and we are here to guide you through each step of the way. If you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to contact us.
3. Change Your Residential Status
3-1. Who Can Apply for a “Long Term Resident” Visa
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.
- Working Visa Categories: If your qualifications align with categories such as Engineer, Specialist in Humanities / International Services, and you secure a job within these fields, you can apply for the corresponding working visa.
- Long Term Resident Visa: This option is designed to accommodate unique situations. For instance, individuals who are divorced and are taking care of their child, who is a Japanese national, may qualify. This visa allows engagement in various types of work, similar to holding a Japanese spouse visa. Importantly, even without a child, some cases merit the grant of the Long Term Resident visa.
Case Example: Vietnamese Woman
Let’s consider the case of a Vietnamese woman who was married to a Japanese man for five years after three years of being a student in Japan. She independently runs a Vietnamese restaurant, not registered as a company but as a sole proprietor. Despite the absence of a registered child, she qualifies for the Long Term Resident visa based on the following criteria:
- Established Residence: Having lived in Japan for an extended period, she can claim Japan as her primary residence.
- Financial Independence: Managing the restaurant successfully, covering her living expenses, and consistently fulfilling tax obligations.
- Exemplary Resident: Demonstrating good conduct and adherence to legal obligations.
These scenarios, recognized as special situations, highlight the flexibility of the Long Term Resident visa. If you have questions or need assistance navigating this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
3-2. Applying for “Long Term Residence”: Simplifying the Process
Embarking on a new chapter after divorce involves transitioning your residential status to align with your current circumstances. The application for a Change of Status of Residence, along with the requisite documents, can be submitted either by the applicant directly or with the assistance of a nationally licensed immigration lawyer (gyoseishoshi).
Our Services: Tailored Support for Your Unique Situation
Navigating the complexities of changing your visa post-divorce necessitates a case-specific approach. The required documents are contingent on individual circumstances. In the midst of dealing with the emotional toll of divorce, seeking professional assistance is a prudent step.
Our team, located in Hiroshima, through meticulous consultation, identifies the optimal solution for each case. We want to assure you that distance is not a barrier to our services. Whether you reside in Hiroshima or elsewhere, we can effectively manage your case, providing seamless support regardless of your location.
Contact Us: Expert Guidance at Your Fingertips
If you seek guidance on post-divorce residency in Japan, don’t hesitate to reach out. Complete the form on our Contact Us page, providing details about your situation. Expect a response within a few days.
Your journey to a stable post-divorce life in Japan begins with the right support.