How to apply for a spouse visa?
For an international couple (a Japanese and foreigner) to get married and live together in Japan, a spouse visa application is necessary unless the spouse has some other visa already.
Nevertheless, even after doing some research, many people may still feel anxious about procedures for a spouse visa application if it’s the first time.
Not knowing the criteria regarding a spouse visa, applicants will have to go through application procedure, being worried.
To reduce such worries, we would like to explain about how to apply for a spouse visa in this article.
1. Check requirements before applying for a spouse visa!
Not everyone can obtain a spouse visa, as applicants must meet the requirement of a spouse visa stipulated in the Immigration Act, which is that the marriage shall be legally effective.
It is important to note here that applicants are not only required to have a legal marital relationship, but to have a substantive marital relationship with their spouse. Thus, not everyone who is married can get a spouse visa.
Visas which are commonly called a spouse visa are not only for cases where a Japanese person marries a foreigner (“Spouse or Child of Japanese National”), but also for cases where a (special) permanent resident marries a foreigner (“Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident”).
Actually, there are more visas that one can get after marriage.
For more information, please read “What are differences between a marriage visa and a spouse visa? ”.
In this article, we would like to explain about how to apply for a spouse visa of “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” and “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident,” about which we very often receive questions.
2. Types of spouse visa applications and how to apply for them
(1) Types of visa applications
There are 2 types of application concerning a spouse visa: Application for Certificate of Eligibility and Application for Change of Status of Residence.
Application for Certificate of Eligibility is an application to call a foreign spouse living abroad to Japan.
Application for Change of Status of Residence is an application for permission to grant a spouse visa to a foreigner who lives in Japan with a visa other than a spouse visa and marries a Japanese person or (special) permanent resident.
In next section, we will explain the procedure of each application.
(2) Application procedures
a) Application for Certificate of Eligibility
◆Who is subject to the procedure
⇒foreigners who wish to enter Japan
⇒When submitting a visa application to an immigration office, the foreigner who wish to obtain a spouse visa needs to go to the immigration office on his/her own, in principle. This is called “principle of appearance of the principal.”
Nevertheless, it is difficult for a person living overseas to go to the immigration office, so the application agent, who is specified by an ordinance of the Ministry of Justice for each status of residence, can submit application on behalf of the person.
For example, in case of a spouse visa, “a relative of the foreign national residing in Japan” is able to become such agent.
Please note that those who are not related to the person, such as friends, cannot become an agent for application.
In many cases, a person living in Japan who is married to the foreigner becomes such agent.
Additionally, administrative scriveners who have submitted a notification to the director of a regional immigration bureau after completing an application agency training and taking an examination are permitted to submit applications to the immigration office which has jurisdiction, on behalf of applicants or applicants’ agents.
⇒the immigration office which has jurisdiction over the address of the applicant’s agent
For details, please read “【Case Study】What is jurisdiction concerning visa application to immigration office? ”.
◆Period of examination
⇒it takes about 1 month to 3 months.
For that reason, it is important to prepare the application for the Certificate of Eligibility carefully, considering such period of examination.
b) Application for Change of Status of Residence
◆Who is subject to the procedure
⇒Foreigners who are staying in Japan with a status of residence at the time of application
◆When to submit application
⇒After the occurrence of the ground for the change of status of residence and before the date of expiration of the status of residence
The ground for the change of status of residence here means the effective formation of legal marriage.
If you wish to change your status of residence to a spouse visa due to marriage, you can apply for a spouse visa any time between the date on which you came to have a marital relationship with your spouse and the date of expiration of your current status of residence.
Just like the Certificate of Eligibility above, for the Application for Change of Status of Residence, administrative scriveners who have submitted a notification to the director of a regional immigration bureau after completing an application agency training and taking an examination are permitted to submit applications to immigration offices on behalf of applicants or agents of applicants.
⇒In principle, the person who wishes to change his /her status of residence must go to the relevant immigration office on his/her own and submit application. If the person cannot make it to go due to illness, etc., a relative living with the person can act as an agent to do application.
⇒The immigration office which has jurisdiction over the place of residence of the foreigner who wishes to change his/her status of residence
For details, please read “【Case Study】What is jurisdiction concerning visa application to immigration office? ”
⇒About 2 weeks to 1 month
3. Procedures required after going through a spouse visa application
In addition to all the application procedures explained above, there still are some more procedures to go through in order for foreign spouses to live in Japan stably with a spouse visa.
In relation to such procedures, we would like to explain about the Application for Certificate of Eligibility and the Application for Change of Status of Residence.
(1) In case of the Application for Certificate of Eligibility
If a foreign spouse is regarded as fulfilling requirements for a spouse visa provided in the Immigration Act as a result of the Application for Certificate of Eligibility, the immigration office will issue the Certificate of Eligibility. Nevertheless, the Certificate of Eligibility is only a recommendation which says, “It is okay to let this person enter Japan.” Therefore, even if a foreign spouse receives the Certificate of Eligibility, it is not certain that he/she will be able to obtain a spouse visa.
Then, after the issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility, what should you do?
First, you should mail the Certificate of Eligibility to the spouse living abroad, as the foreign spouse needs to apply for a visa (sasho) at a Japanese government office (embassies, consulates-general of Japan, etc.) abroad which has jurisdiction over the area where the foreign spouse resides. Such application must be done within 3 months after the issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility.
Documents required for such visa application may differ depending on each government office abroad, so we recommend you to check the required documents on the website of the government office of the area where the foreign spouse resides in advance.
After applying for visa (sasho) and obtaining one, the foreign spouse needs to enter Japan within 3 months of the date of the issuance of the visa (sasho). After entrance to Japan, the foreign spouse will go through a landing examination at the airport or seaport where he/she lands.
During such landing examination, he/she will be asked to present the valid passport with a visa (sasho) and the Certificate of Eligibility.
After such landing examination, a resident card will be given to the foreign spouse.
There are 7 airports where you can receive your resident card on the spot: New Chitose Airport, Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu Airport, Kansai Airport, Hiroshima Airport and Fukuoka Airport.
After landing, the foreign spouse needs to decide the place of residence in Japan, and within 14 days from the date on which the place of residence is fixed, he/she needs to take the resident card to the municipal public office which has jurisdiction over the place of residence, for the submission of a notification concerning the place of residence.
If the foreign spouse lands at an airport other than 7 airports above or at a seaport, the resident card will be later mailed to his/her place of residence after registering the place of residence at the municipal public office.
(2) Application for Change of Status of Residence
About 2 weeks to 1 month after applying for change of status of residence, a notification postcard concerning the result will be sent to the applicant’s home.
The required documents in case of permission are as follows:
1) The passport;
2) The current resident card;
3) The application reception slip;
4) The notification postcard received by the applicant; and
5) The proof of payment of fees.
The foreign spouse has to take 5 items above to the relevant immigration office to receive a new resident card.
Also she/he needs to prepare a revenue stamp of 4,000 yen in advance, which will be put on the application reception slip mentioned above.
4. Summary of how to apply for a spouse visa
In this article, we explained how to apply for a spouse visa and the necessary procedures after going through application.
If you submit an application to a wrong place or at wrong time, the application you spent a lot of time to prepare may not be accepted. To prevent such situation, we recommend you to check how to apply and the procedure in advance before preparing the application.
In addition, the Certificate of Eligibility is valid for 3 months from the date of issuance, so please find out about the visa application procedure in advance, so that you can apply for a visa as soon as the Certificate of Eligibility is issued.
We hope that this article will be helpful to those who are having trouble with the application for a spouse visa.