【Case Study】Calling foreign parents to Japan (a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents)
Ms. A is Chinese and has lived in Japan for 15 years. She has already obtained permanent residence and has a child with a Japanese husband whom she married 10 years ago. Ms. A’s life has been going smoothly, but there is one concern. Her mother is 75 years old and lives in China alone with allowances sent by Ms. A since her father passed away a few years ago. Recently, she has been repeatedly hospitalized and discharged due to her heart problems. Ms. A is an only child, so she is the only one her mother can rely on. Ms. A came to us for consultation to ask if she could live with her mother in Japan.
Many foreigners living in Japan live apart from their parents unless they have grown up in Japan. They can call their parents with a temporary visitor visa for visiting relatives, but it only permits 90 days at the longest. Also applying for a temporary visitor visa every time is troublesome, and it doesn’t let parents stay in Japan forever.
So, does Ms. A have to go back to China to live with her mother? In this article, we would like to explain about invitation of foreign parents (with a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents) along with Ms. A’s case.
1. Can foreign parents be called to Japan with a dependent visa?
Many people think that they can call their parents to Japan with a dependent visa, and we actually receive many inquiries about that. However, dependent visas are limited to spouses and children.
Therefore, parents cannot be called with a dependent visa.
2. There are visas not stipulated by law!
Is a temporary visa only way for foreigners living in Japan to call their parents to Japan?
There are no visas for calling parents to Japan stipulated in the Immigration Act.
Those who stay in Japan with a status of residence of highly skilled professional (i) or (ii) have a privilege by which they can call their parents to Japan as carers of their children under 7 years old, but other statuses of residence do not have such system. The current Immigration Act does not provide any status of residence for calling parents.
On the other hand, in immigration practice, there are visas that are not stipulated by law. The Japanese immigration system allows residence of only those foreigners who fall under the types (statuses of residence) set forth by law. However, it is not practical and actually impossible to categorize all types of foreigners who should be permitted to stay in Japan.
For that reason, the Immigration Act provides a status of residence of “Designated Activities” for individual relief, which is granted based on the circumstances of individual foreigners. The Immigration Act stipulates as follows:
|Status of Residence||Authorized activities|
|Designated Activities||Activities which are specifically designated by the Minister of Justice for individual foreign nationals.|
Unlike other statuses of residence, the status of residence of a designated activity delegates the details of activities to the designation of the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Justice is authorized to decide whether to permit to stay or not.
Among the statuses of residence of “Designated Activities,” there are ones categorized by the Minister of Justice in the public notice, such as working holidays and internships.
Nevertheless, the public notice by the Minister of Justice stipulates nothing about calling parents, but there are some cases permitted in practice, although they are not stipulated in the public notice. Such cases are called kokujigai-tokutei-katsudo (i.e. designated activities outside of the public notice) and include cases of calling parents (in practice, they are called a “designated activity to support elderly parents” or a “designated activity to support great ages”).
3. Practical requirements for a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents
Then, what are requirements for a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents?
There are no clear requirements, as neither the Immigration Act nor the public notice by the Minister of Justice provides them.
However, based on the accumulation of actual cases, it is generally considered the following are the requirements:
1) The parent is not capable of supporting himself/herself;
2) No relatives live in the parent’s country or in a third country;
3) It is difficult for the child to live in his/her home country; and
4) The child’s household which is to support the parent has the ability to support the parent.
The requirements 1) to 3) above can be rephrased as the necessity to live in Japan.
If the parent has the ability to support himself/herself, it will be judged that his/her child does not need to call the parent to Japan to support the parent. The same can be said when there is a relative in the home country or in a third country, as well as when the child can return to the home country.
The significant point here is the ages of foreign parents. In the current practice, if they are under 70 years old, the possibility to obtain permission is low unless they are under special circumstances such as they are ill and unable to work. The standard age used to be 65, but along with the aging of the population, such age became higher as more people work even after becoming 65 years old.
The requirement 4) above can be rephrased as the acceptability regarding residence in Japan.
The visa will be given only on the condition that the parent is not capable of supporting himself/herself, so if the parent decides to live in Japan, the living expenses must be borne by the child’s household. As such, the child’s household must have enough income to sustain livelihood of themselves plus the parent.
4. The process of calling foreign parents to Japan (with a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents)
Let’s go back to Ms. A’s case and look for a solution.
Generally, when a foreigner intends to stay in Japan for a long period of time, he/she applies for the Certificate of Eligibility at the relevant regional immigration bureau and then applies for a visa at a Japanese government office abroad.
However, the designated activities not listed in the public notice including designated activities visas for support to elderly parents are not subject to application for Certificate of Eligibility. It is possible to apply for it directly at a Japanese government office abroad, but it takes a long time. Therefore, the general way is that the parent comes to Japan first with a temporary visitor visa, and while staying in Japan, he/she applies for permission to change the visa to a designated activities visa at the relevant regional immigration bureau.
In the case of Ms. A, we asked her to call her mother with a temporary visitor visa. Here is one thing to be careful, which is to get a 90-day visa. There are 15-day, 30-day, and 90-day periods for temporary visitor visas, and only 90-day visas have the specially permitted period when applying for permission to change the status of residence in Japan.
After Ms. A’s mother arrived in Japan, we applied for a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents.
Since Ms. A’s mother was 75 years old, which exceeds the working age, there was no issue about her age. To demonstrate that Ms. A’s mother had no relatives other than Ms. A, we submitted the death certificate of Ms. A’s father, the certificate of the parent-child relationship between Ms. A and her mother, as well as the certificate of Ms. A being the only-child. Besides, we submitted Ms. A’s mother’s medical certificates and records of hospitalization and discharge in order to prove that she needed to live in Japan.
Moreover, as materials to prove that Ms. A’s family can support Ms. A’s mother, we submitted a record of sending allowances to her mother as her living expenses, in addition to materials to show the income and savings of Ms. A and her husband.
As a result, Ms. A’s mother was able to successfully obtain permission to change her status of residence to a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents.
5. Summary of calling foreign parents to Japan (with a designated activities visa for the support to elderly parents)
Designated activities visas for support to elderly parents are not stipulated in the Immigration Act or the public notice by the Minister of Justice. They have been accepted in practice only, so there are not many cases of permission for this type of visa, and even some administrative scriveners who specialize in international matters do not take cases of this type of visa. There is not much reliable information on internet, either.
While the number of foreigners living in Japan is increasing dramatically, the care of their families is essential for foreigners to play active roles in Japan. We, therefore, wish that clear criteria will be established for designated activities visas for support to elderly parents.