How can a person from Hong Kong apply for Naturalization?
Due in part to the political situation in Hong Kong, it seems that the number of people in Hong Kong who are considering moving abroad will increase in the future.
What makes Hong Kong special compared to other countries is that in many cases Hong Kong is not treated as a single country.
Hong Kong was under British rule and returned to China in 1997.
Currently, it is treated as a “special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China” under the “one country, two systems” policy.
Due to this background, the application for Naturalization in Hong Kong is very different from that in mainland China.
In this column, we will explain the flow of procedures and points to note when people from Hong Kong apply for Naturalization in Japan.
1. What is a Naturalization application?
Applying for Naturalization in Japan is simply “a procedure for a foreigner to become a Japanese (acquire Japanese nationality).”
If you are Naturalized, you will have a Japanese family register and can continue to live in Japan without renewing your visa.
Also, if you have a Japanese passport, you can travel abroad as a Japanese national.
However, it also means losing the nationality of the home country at the same time.
This is because Japan does not recognize dual nationality, so if you acquire Japanese nationality, you cannot retain the nationality of your home country.
2. Number of people from Hong Kong staying in Japan
How many people from Hong Kong are residing in Japan?
The Ministry of Justice publishes the number of foreigners residing in Japan by nationality in the “Statistics on Foreign Residents.”
However, in July 2012, the alien registration system was abolished, and management was unified from the alien registration card to the residence card. So currently, the number of people with “Chinese nationality (including Hong Kong)” is announced.
Therefore, unfortunately, the number of “Hong Kongese” currently residing in Japan has not been made public.
In the past, the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice announced the number of registered foreigners in “China” by “hometown (hometown).”
According to it, among the people with Chinese nationality, the number of people from Hong Kong was around 1,900 in the 1990s, but in 2006, it was 3,256.
In 2010, the number increased to 4,196, more than doubling in 20 years.
Of course, this number is limited to Chinese nationals whose “permanent domicile is Hong Kong”, so it is likely that more “Hong Kongese” were actually residing in Japan.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of tourists visiting Japan from Hong Kong in 2022 will be over 180,000, ranking 4th after China, Taiwan and South Korea.
There are many repeat visitors, and Hong Kong people have a strong interest in Japan.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I believe that there are many people who have experienced the severe political situation surrounding Hong Kong and are wondering “whether to stay in Hong Kong or escape overseas”.
In the future, depending on how the Japanese government responds, it is possible that the number of people coming to Japan from Hong Kong and the number of people immigrating to Japan will increase.
3. General conditions for Naturalization application
Not only for Hong Kong, there are some conditions for foreign nationals to be naturalized in Japan.
Before applying for Naturalization, to know if you meet the conditions for Naturalization.
To summarize the conditions for Naturalization, it is a condition that you meet the seven requirements based on the Nationality Act.
>> Click here for Naturalization application conditions
How many years have you already lived in Japan, whether you can speak Japanese to some extent, whether you have enough income to sustain your livelihood in Japan, and so on.
Or a condition that asks “whether or not the Japanese government can make you a Japanese.”
Also, have you committed a crime such as a traffic violation? “Do you pay taxes as a Japanese citizen?” — You can ask conditions such as.
4. Flow of Naturalization application for people Hong Kong
The flow of the Naturalization application procedure for people from Hong Kong is roughly as follows.
The above is the general flow of the Naturalization application procedure.
There are many documents to be submitted and created in the Naturalization procedure, and it is necessary to visit the Legal Affairs Bureau and domestic and foreign government offices many times.
If it is troublesome to go to the Legal Affairs Bureau or government office many times and you want to acquire Japanese nationality without fail, there is way to consult with an international administrative scrivener who specializes in Naturalization.
5. Documents required for people Hong Kong Naturalization application
When a person from Hong Kong applies for Naturalization in Japan, it is necessary to collect various documents.
The documents required for Naturalization, not only for the Naturalization application for people from Hong Kong, differ depending on the person’s family composition and work (income source).
In general, the documents that need to be submitted for a foreigner’s Naturalization application are:
- Nationality certificate
- Birth certificate
- Death certificate (if the applicant’s parent is death)
- Marriage certificate (if you have been divorced, you will also need that certificate)
- Certificate of family (relative) relationship
The documents to be submitted for people from Hong Kong when applying for Naturalization are generally the same, but in principle, it is necessary to obtain them issued by the Hong Kong government office in Hong Kong, not in Japan.
It is possible to ask a relative living in Hong Kong to obtain it but depending on the person in charge of the counter in Hong Kong, there may be cases where “it can only be issued by the person himself/herself,” so it is essential to be sure to check the necessary documents with the Legal Affairs Bureau in advance.
In addition, there are documents that can be obtained from government offices in Japan or created by the applicant himself/herself.
If the applicant lives in Japan with his/her parents or siblings, it is necessary to show the status (income and school attendance) of each member of the household as well as the certificate of resident of all members of the household.
Also, if you are married to a Japanese person, you will need a copy of your family register.
Some official documents in Japan have expiration dates, so you need to be careful when you obtain them.
If you are working in Japan, you may be required to submit documents such as pay slips and work salary certificates.
6. Five things to be aware of when applying for Naturalization for people Hong Kong
I have the impression that the Naturalization application for “Hong Kongese” is more complicated and time-consuming than the Naturalization application for people in mainland China.
Again, this is since Hong Kong is often not treated as a single country.
Based on that point, the following will tell you what Hong Kong people should be aware of when applying for Naturalization.
(1) The peculiarities of Hong Kong, which is “China” and not the mainland of China
As mentioned above, Hong Kong cannot be treated as a “country” due to political reasons.
Although it is part of China, under an administrative system different from that of mainland China, people of various foreign nationalities, including Chinese, British, and others, live as “Hong Kongese.”
There are different types of passports, such as “Hong Kongese as Chinese” and “Hong Kongese as British”.
Depending on the nationality of the applicant, the documents required for the Naturalization application process will also change.
Therefore, if you are thinking about applying for Naturalization, you need to check in advance from which nationality you will be naturalized in Japan.
(2) It may take time from consultation for Naturalization application to permission
It is not limited to the Naturalization application for people from Hong Kong, but the Naturalization application procedure takes time and effort.
It is not uncommon for it to take years from the preliminary consultation to the notice of permission or non-permission of Naturalization.
In particular, the Naturalization application for Hong Kongens may be complicated due to the circumstances described in (1).
If the applicant is planning to get married or have a baby, and would like to become a Japanese national as soon as possible, we recommend that you prepare as early as possible and consult with the Legal Affairs Bureau or branch office.
In that case, please make effective use of administrative scriveners like us.
(3) Obtaining a consular certificate is complicated
As mentioned earlier, Hong Kong residents can obtain home country documents from the Hong Kong government office.
However, there are some documents that cannot be obtained from the Hong Kong government.
That’s your nationality certificate.
To be precise, the person from Hong Kong also has Chinese nationality, so it is a document called “consular certificate”, but this is a document to be obtained at the Chinese embassy or consulate in Japan.
However, if you are from Hong Kong, you may not be able to obtain it even if you go to the embassy or consulate, in that case, please explain the situation to the Legal Affairs Bureau counselor.
(4) The timing of loss of nationality is “before permission for Naturalization”
If the Naturalization application is approved and you become a Japanese, you will basically have to go through the procedures to lose your home country’s nationality.
The problem is “when” to carry out procedures for loss of nationality.
Depending on the country, there are countries where the Japanese government issues permission for Naturalization, that is, after it is confirmed that the person will become a “Japanese”, then the procedures for loss of nationality are taken.
On the other hand, there are some countries that take procedures to lose nationality even though Naturalization has not yet been approved.
In the case of Hong Kong, the nationality loss procedure is performed immediately before “permission for Naturalization is granted”.
After the interview by the Legal Affairs Bureau/Branch Bureau, the person in charge of the Legal Affairs Bureau in Japan contacted me saying, “Please complete the procedures for loss of nationality.”
As I wrote in (3), in principle, the applicant himself/herself conducts the application in Hong Kong.
Please do not apply for loss of nationality before receiving this notification.
In the unlikely event that you cannot obtain Japanese citizenship, if you take the necessary procedures ahead of schedule, you will also lose the nationality of your home country.
(5) Prior confirmation and preparation are important
Some Hong Kong people have their own unique identities.
By the way, many of the documents required for Naturalization application must be obtained in Hong Kong.
In addition to the applicant himself/herself, there are also documents showing the status of parents, siblings, relatives, etc., and the status of consent to Naturalization.
So, how would your relatives in Hong Kong feel if their daughter, son, sister or brother decided to become a naturalized Japanese citizen?
Even if the applicant wishes to be naturalized, if other relatives are against it, it may affect the examination of the Naturalization permission application, so, if possible, follow up on the reactions and feelings of those around you in advance. As a result, the procedure will go smoothly.
7. Summary of Naturalization application for people from Hong Kong
In this column, we introduced the flow of Naturalization application procedures and points to note when Hong Kong people naturalize in Japan.
First, the peculiarities of the region called Hong Kong. Introduces the flow of Naturalization application and necessary documents and summarizes the timing of loss of nationality and what you need to be careful about at that time.
Statistically, the number of people residing in Japan from Hong Kong may be smaller than that from Taiwan.
However, in the future, it is expected that the number of people who visit Japan or settle in Japan will increase.
People in Hong Kong are interested in Japanese culture, and we have the impression that there are many people who are pro-Japanese.
For inquiries about the Naturalization application procedure for Hong Kongens, please contact the us Daiichi Sogo Office.
Consultation for Naturalization application is available free of charge.