【Case Study】A married couple living abroad apply for a spouse visa
A Japanese female who studied abroad in Hawaii and an American male got married in Hawaii. They decided to live in Japan after discussion, as the wife’s parents were old. In February of the same year, the wife temporarily came back to Japan and visited an immigration office, which gave her unexpected response…
The immigration officer said, “Please apply for a spouse visa only after you prepare a certificate of tax payment and taxation certificate.”
The wife came to us as she didn’t know what to do after receiving such response from the immigration officer.
“I cannot prepare the documents listed on the website of the immigration services…”
Not a few people have told us that. Especially consultation concerning income is comparatively many. When a married couple living abroad apply for a spouse visa, like the case above, they cannot prepare a taxation certificate and certificate of tax payment as they haven’t had any income in Japan in recent years.
In this article, we would like to focus on income issues of married couples who live abroad and apply for a spouse visa.
1．What are the requirements for permission for a spouse visa?
According to the Appended Table II of the Immigration Act, the requirement for permission for a spouse visa is “the spouse of a Japanese national, or a child specially adopted by a Japanese national or those born as the child of a Japanese national.” From this provision alone, it seems like a spouse of a Japanese person can obtain a spouse visa regardless of income stability.
In a past case (Judgement by Tokyo district court dated 8 September 2011(Year 22 of the era of Heisei (Gyou-u)504)), it is stated that “Concerning the status of residence of a spouse or child of a Japanese national, financial means or income to conduct activities as a spouse of a Japanese, which are the activities corresponding to such status of residence, are not necessarily required (omitted).”
In the case above, is a financial foundation required for the married couple living in Hawaii to receive a spouse visa?
2．Income requirement for permission of spouse visa, which greatly affects married couples living abroad
The precedent above mentions that financial foundation is one factor to decide whether to permit a spouse visa, and that a question may arise as to if the applicant is really going to live in Japan if his/her financial foundation is too deficient.
Article 5, paragraph 1, item (3) of the Immigration Act set forth that “a person who is indigent or without a fixed dwelling place and is likely to become a burden on the Japanese Government or a local public entity because of an inability to make a living” is denied permission to land in Japan.
Hence, to obtain a spouse visa, the financial foundation must be solid enough for the married couple to at least spend their marriage life stably and continuously.
Like above case of the couple in Hawaii, we are often requested advise by people with unstable or no income as they applied for a spouse visa and received a notification of no-distribution of certificate of eligibility (i.e. notification of non-permission).
The typical statement of reason for non-permission for a spouse visa is: “Judging from the documents submitted, we do not acknowledge that you will stably and continuously perform activities that fall under the status of residence of spouse and child in Japan.”
In the sample case of a married couple living abroad, do they have to wait until they can prepare a certificate of tax payment and taxation certificate, as instructed by an immigration officer? Is there any way to obtain a spouse visa without waiting for such long time?
Let’s find out step by step!
3．What happens if the married couple living abroad in the sample case follow the instruction of the immigration office?
If anyone goes to an immigration office for consultation and gets instructions, he/she should follow such instruction in principle. However, through listening to our clients, we often find that they did not explain the facts precisely to the immigration officers, and because of that they were given wrong answers.
For example, a married couple living abroad wish to live in Japan and have 100-million-yen savings due to their success in business outside of Japan. They plan to start new business in Japan after obtaining a spouse visa, but they are unable to prepare a taxation certificate and certificate of tax payment as they have lived in a foreign country in recent years.
Therefore, they go to an immigration office for consultation and explain, “We cannot prepare a taxation certificate and certificate of tax payment as we have lived in a foreign country in recent years.” The immigration officer answers, “Then please apply after your life becomes stable, or in particular, after you start business and become able to prepare a taxation certificate and certificate of tax payment.”
Above example is a little too extreme, but they did not mention their 100-million-yen savings. If they mentioned, the immigration officer may have answered differently.
Now, back on the case of the couple in Hawaii. When can they apply for a spouse visa if they want to follow the instruction of the immigration office?
They went to the immigration office in February. A taxation certificate and certificate of tax payment will be issued sometime after June of next year, so spouse visa can only be applied after that…
Is it unavoidable for the couple to be separated for 1 and half year?
Let’s find out if there is any other way!
4．There is a way to receive a spouse visa without submitting all the required documents!
The following documents are listed in the website of the Immigration Services Agency as the required documents for the spouse visa application.
1 Application to request for the Certificate of Eligibility 1 copy
2 Photo (4cm×3cm) 1 copy
3 Family register of the (Japanese) spouse 1 copy
4 Marriage certificate issued by an organization of the country of the applicant’s nationality (not Japan) 1 copy
5 Certificate of taxation (or exclusion from taxation) of the (Japanese) spouse’s resident tax and certificate of tax payment (with description of whole annual income and the status of tax payment) 1 copy each
6 Letter of Guarantee for the (Japanese) spouse 1 copy
7 Copy of resident card with description of the whole household of the (Japanese) spouse 1 copy
8 Questionnaire 1 copy
9 Snapshots (of husband and wife together in which their appearances are clearly photographed) 2-3 copies
10 A self-addressed envelope (clearly write an address on a standard-sized envelope and put a stamp of 404 yen (for simple registered mail)
By the way, are certificate of tax payment and taxation certificate only things that can certify financial situations? Is it impossible to obtain permission for spouse visa if the documents listed in the website of the Immigration Agency Services are not submitted?
You may have realized, but the submission of above documents 1- 10 is not important to obtain a spouse visa. The important thing is to prove what the immigration services requires during the examination on a spouse visa. The demonstration along the facts is significant, not the formal submission of documents.
In other words, purpose of the submission of taxation certificate and certificate of tax payment is to confirm the financial foundation of the couple as explained above. If that’s the purpose, there is a possibility to obtain a spouse visa without those documents as long as the solidness of their financial foundation is demonstrated.
Finally, this case is reaching the climax.
Did the Japanese female and American male managed to get a spouse visa?
5．The result of the application for a spouse visa by the married couple living abroad in the sample case
In above case of the married couple living in Hawaii, the wife and husband were both young and did not have enough savings like the example in above 3. On the other hand, as they planned to live at the wife’s parents’ house after obtaining a spouse visa, they did not need to pay rent. Plus, the wife’s father was going to support the couple with living expenses for the time being. Finally, they were able to satisfy the financial standard required by the immigration authority. As a result, the husband could receive a spouse visa although he once thought about leaving Japan.
This was a case of changing from a temporary visitor visa to a spouse visa, which generally makes a case a bit more difficult, but the couple managed to obtain a spouse visa. They were pretty happy as they did not need to be separated for 1 and half year.
6．Summary of the case where a married couple living abroad apply for a spouse visa
The important thing when applying for a spouse visa is not the submission of documents listed in the website of the Immigration Services Agency!
For fulfillment of the requirements for permission of a spouse visa, the most important thing is to understand what the immigration authority is trying to find out from the documents required to be submitted spouse visa.
And if you figure out what they are trying to find out, you can start considering how to prove them. There are more than one method to prove them; therefore, even if you cannot collect all documents listed on the immigration website, you still have chance to receive spouse visa.
When you cannot get all documents listed on the immigration website, please do not panic.
And if you can remember what we wrote here about a married couple abroad applying for a spouse visa, we will be very grateful.