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Spouse visas

Japan With Kids - Forums: Immigration/visas/re-entry permits/naturalization: Spouse visas
By David Thompson on Thursday, May 10, 2001 - 9:33 am:

Hi, I have recently received a spouse visa from the consulate here. We will go to Tokyo soon an I'm worried about the best way to fill out the landing documents. I will be able to work on the spouse visa, so should I write "Work" or should I just write "Accompanying spouse" and risk getting some lame visa that will proclude work?. Because I applied for a spouse visa, there is no "Certficate of Elegibility", just countless Koseki Touhon-type documents and letters from guarantors etc. Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

By Alfred Weinzierl on Friday, May 11, 2001 - 4:23 pm:

Dear David,
Am I right to assume that you already do have a spouse visa? If you do, you need not worry about work.A spouse visa permits you to do anything you like workwise.
Write " accompanying spouse " in the landing document and you should be fine.
Alfred Weinzierl
Executive Director A-Un
new email address (9 Oct):

By David Thompson on Monday, August 6, 2001 - 1:09 pm:

Hi everyone. Thanks for finally fixing this discussion thread. I have actually e-mailed three times to both Admins with no success, but anyway, here it is.

You may remember that I had successfully obtained a spouse visa from the consulate in Sydney - a process that is another story altogether. My concern was that there was inconsistent information about the paperwork required at the immigration counter at Narita. I was particularly worried about the "Certficate of Elegibility" which is not actually required to get the visa, but mentioned often enough in MOFA documents.

Anyway, as suggested by Alfred, I rolled up to immigration with "accompanying spouse" written in the landing document. Now, of course I was with my spouse, but she went through the other section for Japanese so she was not by my side. The immigration officer looked over my passport carefully and (pause for effect) asked if I had a Certficate of Elegibility?. "No, but..." I started to say, but he waved me off and said that it was ok. Phew!. Note to others: I recommend getting one if you have time. He duly stamped the passport with the landing permit, marked for "1 year" and specified correctly as "spouse or child of Japanese national". I asked if he saw many of these types of visa and he said that he sees "quite a few", so my concerns that they may not be familiar enough with them were unfounded.

The main point is that I have the best possible visa now which allows me unlimited activities in Japan. I also went and got a multiple re-entry permit to allow me to leave again without trashing my precious and hard-won visa.

I'm sure all of you with kids are aware of the "juminhyo mondai" as dicussed at length on David Aldwinkle's webiste, but in short, I applied for my new ARC at the Shiyakusho and at the same time, got myself listed as the "Setai-nushi" or bread-winner of the family and having done that, started the national health card as a family with (again) me as the Setai-nushi. This is very, very important for us foreigners who have, or may have kids in Japan. For an explanation on why, see Dave's page at

So, if anyone you know has a question specifically on spouse visas, I'm happy to help where I can.

By Emily Homma on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 1:23 am:

I'd like to ask about the requirements to renew Spouse visas.My visa expires in mid December.When I first came to Japan(3 years ago) with my husband, my spouse visa was granted with my father-in-law as my guarantor since my husband had just finished his contract with the agency he was working with.I had already made my visa changed to multiple entry by handing in koseki tohon,alien card,...Now I want to know whether the same documents have to be submitted(most recent koseki tohon?).Is a month and a half enough time for filing?

I can not upload the form from the website with my English OS.Can the form be received by fax?

Any help or information would be greatly appreciated.


By kela on Monday, May 10, 2004 - 1:59 am:

Was wondering if anyone can help me....
I have just married a Japanese citizen, and am wanting to change my working visa over to a spousal visa.
However, the information I am getting about the procedure and required documents is different depending on who I talk to, and the Immigration Center is not really giving me clear information either.
Some people say that I need a letter of guarentee from a person living in Japan - who? and what should it say exactly?
Any advice would be appreciated.

By Manjula brahmajosyula on Saturday, June 5, 2004 - 3:04 pm:

Hi everybody,

I work in Japan and my husband will be joining me shortly on spouse visa. He is a free lance architectural photographer and would like to do freelancing here as well. I would like to know whether he will be able to do free lancing (basically work in Japan) with his spouse visa? Or could anyone tell me what kind of visa will help him work here?

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, June 5, 2004 - 5:18 pm:

Looking back over the posts in the past on this subject, it seems there may be some confusion on the term "spouse visa". This should really be limited to meaning "spouse of Japanese national" - NOT "spouse of alien with visa to work".

The former allows one to work without restriction. The latter is more properly referred to as "dependent" and is restricted to working up to 20 hours - and that is with permission.

Manjula- your husband cannot legally work without permission or his own working visa. However, photography is a skill that is often paid in cash.

The only visa that would allow him to work here is his own work visa obtained through the processes mentioned elsewhere.


By Sue Slater on Saturday, June 5, 2004 - 6:34 pm:

Dear Manjula,

My husband can work on his dependents visa (what some people call a spouse visa) but he can only work up to 20 hours per week. Your husband needs to get permission to work from Japanese immigration after he obtains his dependents visa.


By Lisa on Sunday, June 20, 2004 - 10:11 pm:

When renewing my spouse visa (married to Japanese national) Does he have to be the one supporting me? Can I use my own income tax as support? Also what is the minimum amount that you must earn to sponsor the visa?

By Angela Turzynski-Azimi on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 1:30 pm:

As I understand it from previous postings, the non-Japanese spouse (dependent) of a non-Japanese partner holding a working visa is allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week. I have yet to investigate this for myself, but wonder if anyone knows what this maximum represents in financial terms for a freelance worker who is not paid at an hourly rate?

By Scott Hancock on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 1:59 pm:

DISCLAIMER: This is my personal opinion and all statements about Immigration should be checked directly with them to confirm every time.

Angela- Assuming the dependent spouse wishing to work has obtained the permission (it's not an automatic "right"), one is well served to convert one's own reality of work conditions into a form that Immigration can digest. Trying to make them understand your reality will just make it less likely that they'll agree. Of course, you want to stay as honest as you can, but all Japanese bureacracy negotiates and is gray.

Hope this helps.

By Richou Rousai on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 11:11 am:

I'm going to Japan in June to marry my wife. Specifically, I'm going to do whatever is legally necessary to get a visa based on our marriage in the US three years ago up to and including going through another marriage there in Japan.

The consulate hasn't been any help and time is running, out, so it looks like I'll be starting out on a tourist visa and changing over while in Osaka.

I'm not finding as much information on this process as I'd like. Do any of you have any experience or knowledge concerning pitfalls, shortcuts, required-but-not-obvious documentation, ect. that I should know of?

Of course I'm wanting to get all of it over with as soon as possible so I can start working as soon as possible, which leads me to another question. Can I legally work while I'm waiting for my spousal visa?



By Caroline on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 12:00 pm:

You don't mention whether your wife is Japanese... If so, I would suppose this would automatically entitle you to a spouse visa in Japan. Not sure though...

By Monica S. on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 12:09 pm:

Hi Richo

As far as I know, you can`t change your tourist status for a resident status while in Japan. If you come as a tourist and marry your wife here, you should go back and come again as a resident.
And you can`t work legally with a tourist visa.
Sorry, I don`t know what the right procedure is. Have you asked if you can marry her in the Japanese embassy abroad?

By Caroline on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 6:52 pm:

If you get married while in Japan, you can change from a Tourist Visa to a Spouse Visa if your wife is Japanese or if your wife has a Work visa.

But if are already married and your spouse is Japanese, I see no point in getting married again. You should be able to get a Spouse visa without any problem, I think. Can someone confirm this?

By Anne Bergasse on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 11:42 am:

This is for Ricoh
I checked with friends of mine who married abroad and then moved back to Japan and it confirms what I thought. You do not need to remarry in Japan. Phew!
When you come here with your wife, you will be issued a tourist visa (valid for 3 months) upon arrival. You will then need to get registered in her family registry (Koseki Tohon) and after that you can apply for your spousal visa. The whole
process is trouble free, with plenty of time and your wife will be able to help you along the way.
If you are still unsure I recommend going to the Japanese consul in your city. They will provide you with all the information you need.
Hope you have a nice trip over. cheers, Anne

By Richou Rousai on Saturday, April 23, 2005 - 7:16 am:

Thanks so much for all the information, you guys. Sorry I wasn't more explicit, but yes my wife is Japanese. I wasn't sure if we needed to do some "vow" thing at the city hall or whatever or how much trouble they would give me for doing it the "bad" way (trying to change after arrival). I do have our marriage license from Texas and pictures of us from out time in America together. I'm hoping that'll be all I need to prove our marriage.

If anyone has any different or more specific advice or knowledge please share, and thanks again.

By Melindatherese on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 7:30 pm:

I am currently on a humanities visa but will
hopefully soon change to a spouse visa.I
have stopped working and am waiting for
my seperation certificate before i go to
immigration to apply for the spouse
should arrive in a couple of days.i am
worried as i am returning to australia
aound june 20th for the birth of our first
child (my husband is japanese) and will
come back to japan perhaps in
september.i am hoping the immigration
office can process my application
quickly.has anyone experienced super fast
applications? or knows of how to make
this happen? also with the application i
have to supply photos and am unclear of
whether they are of me and my husband
together or a photo of each.i will apply for
a reentry permit before i leave as well and
wonder about the period for reentry.
i would appreciate any advice or tips.i
would make a trip to shinagawa to discuss
it but want to wait until i have all the

By Kit on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 8:01 pm:


I tried to speed up the visa process when
my father was dying back home, with a ten
-day prognosis. The immigration officer I
first encountered was utterly
unsympathetic ("only God can decide when
you father will die and whether you will
get to see him before that," he said,
deifying himself by implication). It was a
horrendous experience, I'm afraid. But I
went back every single day to ask about
the progress, and finally hit on someone
who sensed the urgency of things--she
got the approval taken care of on the spot.
I managed to make it back in time, but I
still resent the days it took them to
process the same visa I have been
renewing for 15 years. Hope you have a
much better experience, but I do
recommend daily gentle pressure.

By Pato on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 9:35 pm:

Now that would be another very good reason to get PR status as soon as you qualify for it: no more pushing and pushing to get something done under urgent circumstances.

By Anne on Thursday, May 25, 2006 - 11:39 am:

Explain the problem to immigration - it
would help if you have a plane ticket dated
June 20th.
Once you apply - they will put a stamp on
your passport that says the visa
application is in process. You can check
back by phone with the visa process
number cited or go in person every week
until the time to keep reminding them.

If you ultimately have to leave the
country and they have not finished - ask if
they can issue a special permit to leave.
Usually this is a letter - and give them
plenty of time. Involving your husband in
the process will help.

Last resort - let your visa status expire
and come back in September on a tourist
visa. You can then apply for spousal visa
at that time which is relatively easy.

They are asking for a picture both of you
and your husband.

Hope this helps.

ps. Immigration has various experiences
both good and bad. Most of the people
there are trying to do their best given an
enormous work load. Their work is
basically trying to understand documents
written in a language that is not their
native language - English and to verify
that you are who you are. If they can help
- they will try. If time pressure is against
them - they will stand on ceremony. My
experiences with immigration have been
extensive and they have always tried to
help within the confines of the
immigration laws.

By Melindatherese on Friday, May 26, 2006 - 10:30 pm:

thank you for your replies. i got my
employment seperation certificate today
so the fun begins from monday.....

By Soba Icecream on Friday, June 2, 2006 - 3:45 pm:

Hi there,

My (Japanese) husband's being sent abroad for four or more years -- so, by the time we get back, my spouse visa will have expired.

The only available option I see at the moment is to keep flying back to Japan every three years to renew. Well, there is one other option, which would be to be to give up my spouse visa and then re-apply whenever I eventually do return to Japan.

Has anyone been in this situation, or does anyone know what I might be able to do instead? It's been a long time since I applied for that visa but I don't remember the process being terribly fun and I'd really rather not go through that all over again!

Any help would be hugely appreciated!

By Pato on Sunday, June 4, 2006 - 9:51 pm:

Hi Soba Icecream
It is now possible to apply for permanent residence visa after 5 years worth of consecutive spouse visas. Basically if your marriage is sound and/if there are children, all foreigners are smart to obtain the P.R. visa as soon as possible, regardless of where they may be living in the future temporarily or for an extended period. It basically means that you get added freedom of movement. There was a post a few days ago about how someone needed an emergency renewal done quickly in order to attend a parent's sickbed (leading to death) in another country. The process which normally takes a mere 2-3 weeks needed speeding up, and it was very hard to do.

With a P.R. visa this situation would not have been. P.R. visas do not need renewals. Of course, re-entry permits do need re-newal, but that can be done in one visit to immigration. There is also a very good chance that with a letter of explanation, a person with P.R. and a husband sent abroad for 5 years should get some sort of special consideration. Of course, many people would probably make a trip in that 5 year period at some point if for no other reason than to visit family. And that would also be a good opportunity to get a renewal or a re-entry permit processed. Also, I just read that they are getting ready (or already have?) made 5 year visas available to highly trained immigrants, so probably the re-entry permits will then also have a maximum life of 5 years.

If there are children, it becomes even more important to have that P.R. visa, in case the marriage should fail and the Japanese parent should take the children back to Japan against the wishes of the foreign parent.

Visa processing is tedious, but believe it or not, it can be much worse and take a lot longer in other countries, for example in the USA.

By Wongwelly on Saturday, December 15, 2007 - 4:56 pm:

I am new here but just couldn't help reading all the priceless info. I have a Japanese girlfriend, we are planning to visit Japan in 22 Dec'07 (a week from now) to get to know her other side of family. We also have marriage plan in place on August'08.
This time I'm going with 15 days visitor visa that's hardly earned by having to leave the country where I'm living back to my home country. In order not to to go through the same route again, I wonder whether I can apply for a new visa when I'm in Japan for returning in August to conduct marriage. To apply for re-entry permit would be out of option, considering my 'super short' period visa.
Thank you.

By Annahassunuma on Thursday, May 1, 2008 - 3:22 pm:

HiI am a Filipina who was married to a Brazilian national who has long term visa in japan. My husband is a 3rd generation japanese descendant. I just want to know if i could get a type of visa (aside from tourist visa) which does not require a certificate of eligibility.

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