Desperately seeking visas: a mixed bag of queries

One of the perennial topics that crops up regularly in reader inquiries is visas. While it is impossible to address every single question, here are some that cover fairly common situations:

Reader A.I. is a foreign national with permanent residence status. She is married to a Japanese but has school-age children from her previous marriage who are living with relatives back in her home country.

“My husband and I are both in steady employment and we would like my children to be able to join us in Japan,” she writes. “What do I need to do?”

There is provision for the unmarried, minor children of someone residing in Japan to come to the country as dependents. Assuming that the children want to come and that her former spouse will not block this move, the first thing A.I. needs to do is visit the local immigration office and apply for a certificate of eligibility (COE or zairyūshikaku ninteishōmeisho) for each of her children. This is the document required for a foreign national not yet residing in Japan.

A.I. and her current spouse will probably be asked to furnish various other documents, including copies of birth certificates and passports for the children, proof of their own employment and income, etc. According to the person I called at my local immigration office, the process generally takes around three months. More information on different types of COE can be found here:

A reader in a somewhat similar situation is J.M., a student in his 20s. Both he and his mother are foreign nationals, and she is now married to a Japanese national and in the process of applying for permanent residence.

“I am here on a student visa with a residence card valid until July of 2016,” he explains. “If my mother gets her permanent residence, is there a way she can help me change my status to dependent or long-term resident so I can stay in Japan?”

Unfortunately for J.M., the answer is likely to be “no.” Since he is already an adult, he is very unlikely to be awarded dependent status in such a case. He can, of course, continue to apply to study here as a student and then seek employment in Japan as an independent adult.

Finally, J.A., a reader here on a working visa, asks: “I understand that an individual is given a 90-day allowance to look for a job (if there’s none lined up yet). My question is, does the 90-day allowance apply even if your visa expires within the 90-day period?

“For example, if I quit my job in November and my visa will expire on Dec. 1, does that mean that I will still be given a 90-day allowance in order to find a new job, or does it mean that I can only stay in Japan until my visa is no longer valid?”

In this case, the latter applies. If the visa expires in December, so does your eligibility to stay in Japan. For more information on the 90-day allowance for job changes, refer to this previous Lifelines column:

Please note that information in this column is provided only as a general guideline. Readers are advised to talk to their local immigration office to get specific information about their own visa and immigration concerns.

Louise George Kittaka has been based in Japan since she was 20. In the ensuing years she has survived PTA duty for three kids in the Japanese education system and singing live on the NHK “Nodo Jiman” show, among other things. Your questions and comments:

Coronavirus banner