【Case Study】Visa application to call a stepchild to Japan after international marriage
While working in Indonesia, Mr. A, a Japanese, met Mrs. B, an Indonesian, and had international marriage. Mrs. B, the wife, had a history of divorce and had a 6-year-old daughter Miss. C with the former-husband. Mr. A was living in Indonesia with Mrs. B and Miss. Ｃ, but after a while, Mr. A had to go back to Japan as the term of assignment in Indonesia expired.
Mr. A went back to Japan to prepare to live with Mrs. B and Miss. C and started to do research on visas to invite them to Japan. He found a lot of information as to spouse visas on internet, but he couldn’t find any precise information about which visa was necessary for a child of a foreign spouse to stay in Japan.
Mr. A really wanted to build a happy family with Mrs. B and Miss. C and came to us to ask if there was any infallible way to call Miss. C to Japan.
In this article, we would like to focus on visa applications to invite a child of a foreign spouse and show some example cases.
1. Is there any visa to call a stepchild after international marriage?
We are sometimes asked whether there is any way to call a child of a spouse (a stepchild) to Japan as a foreign spouse is moving to Japan with a visa of “spouse or child of Japanese national” (hereinafter referred to as a “spouse visa”).
Marriage with someone with a child is not so rare, and we see a lot of international marriage cases with a stepchild. In this article, we would like to explain about a visa for a stepchild (hereinafter, referred to as a “stepchild visa”).
Generally, a visa to invite a child of a spouse by a former marriage is called a stepchild visa, but there is no visa named a stepchild visa in the Immigration Act. In fact, a stepchild visa falls under the status of residence of long-term resident to be precise.
The long-term resident visa was established to accept foreigners who are in a situation so special that the Ministry of Justice considers that they should be permitted to stay in Japan for a reasonable period. Such foreigners are mentioned in the Immigration Act as “those who are authorized to reside in Japan with a period of stay designated by the Minister of Justice in consideration of special circumstances.”
To be granted a stepchild visa, the child must be an unmarried and dependent minor and a biological child of a spouse of a Japanese person, permanent resident, special permanent resident, or long-term resident (whose period of stay is designated as 1 year or more) with a visa of spouse or child of Japanese national or a visa of spouse or child of permanent resident.
2. Points of application for a stepchild visa
There are 2 major points in the stepchild visa application.
The first one is that the child shall be a biological child of the foreign spouse, a minor, and not married.
The second one is that the child shall be supported by a parent.
Now, we will explain more specifically about the points of stepchild visa application.
(1) The biological child of the foreign spouse shall be a minor
In order to obtain a stepchild visa, the requirement that “the biological child of the foreign spouse shall be a minor” needs to be fulfilled, but not every biological child who is a minor can obtain a long-term resident visa and come to Japan. Currently, under the Japanese law, children up to the age of 20 are treated as minors (after 1 April, 2022, it will be changed to the age of 18), while the adult age in China is 18 years old and the adult age in Singapore is 21 years old. As such, the adult age varies from country to country.
Basically, the higher the age of the child is, the more difficult the permission for a stepchild visa becomes.
It is because when a child reaches a certain age, the child can work on his/her own, and it is considered that the child has the ability to live without parent’s support. Accordingly, during examination, the immigration authorities tend to become suspicious of application for a stepchild visa for children who are over 18 years old or have reached the age of majority under the laws of their home country, as they doubt whether he/she is coming to Japan to find a job. They may finally conclude that the child can live independently and will not be supported by parents in Japan.
Therefore, it is preferable to apply for a stepchild visa as early as possible while the child is still young.
However, it is not impossible to obtain a stepchild visa at an age close to the adult age. The possibility of permission for a stepchild visa will increase by carefully explaining the necessity to support the stepchild, the requirements of support situation as described below, along with materials to prove that.
As another requirement, the child must be unmarried in order to obtain a stepchild visa. The reason is that if the child is married, the immigration authority will judge that the child has the ability to build own family. For that reason, in order to obtain permission for a stepchild visa, the child of the spouse must be unmarried.
(2) The child needs to be supported
In order to acquire a stepchild visa, it is not enough to be a minor / unmarried child of a foreign spouse. In addition, the situation of the child supported until the application, and the parent’s economic foundation after calling the child to Japan must be demonstrated.
Regarding the status of the child supported until the time of application, you need to show the whereabouts of custody and the situation of living together if you apply for a stepchild visa at the same time as a spouse visa.
There are issues when a parent already living in Japan with a spouse visa invites a child who has lived in his/her home country for many years (a stepchild) to Japan.
In this case, when applying for a stepchild visa, the parent needs to explain the actual situation of economic support such as how the child had been supported until the time of application, as well as how the parent decided to call the child who has lived apart for many years to Japan.
In addition, even if you can explain about the situation of the child being supported until the time of application, it is also necessary to clarify the parents’ ability to support the child while you are married to your spouse. Please note that if your household income is too low, you may be judged to be unable to support the child who is about to come to Japan, so be careful.
Therefore, when applying for a stepchild visa, it is also necessary that at least one person in the couple has a regular job, which brings enough household income to live like a regular family without financial problems.
3. The process of calling a stepchild to Japan after international marriage
Let’s take a look at the process of calling a stepchild of a Japanese person who is internationally married.
Since Miss C, a stepchild of Mrs. B, is 6 years old, the requirement of being an unmarried minor who is a biological child of a spouse as explained above is fulfilled without any problem.
What about the requirement of being supported?
It is clear that Mr. A was supporting the stepchild Miss. C because Mr. A lived with the family while he was assigned overseas. In this regard, we prepared materials such as a letter of appointment concerning the transfer of Mr. A to overseas and KTP (Kartu Tanda Penduduk (i.e. a resident registration card)) on which it is mentioned that the Mr. A and the family lived together in Indonesia. In addition, in order to prove that there is no financial problem for Mr. A to support Miss. C in Japan, we prepared Mr. A’s employment certificate and the latest salary statements, etc.
Along with above materials, we submitted to the immigration office a letter of explanation in which we specifically clarified the situation of how Miss C was raised until the time of application and described the plans of child-rearing and future life. As a result, Mrs. B’s spouse visa and Miss C’s stepchild visa were successfully permitted, and now they live in Japan peacefully.
4. Summary of visa application to call a stepchild to Japan after international marriage
In this article, we explained about how to call a stepchild to Japan after international marriage. As stated above, not every child of a spouse can obtain a stepchild visa. Facts which need to be proved is different depending on the situation of each child, and documents which need to be submitted are different depending on such facts.
In supporting to apply for a visa, we try to figure out which documents are necessary after listening to our clients’ stories and then prepare a letter of explanation to prove relevant facts. The key factor to acquire a stepchild visa is the demonstration of how the parent decided to call the child to Japan as well as the prospects for future life.
We will be happy if this article will be helpful to people who are considering about applying for a stepchild visa.