Foreigners who are living in Japan or going to in the future must consider bringing your family to Japan. Actually Japanese immigation law has a general visa called Dependent to allow family stays for holders of the following residence status:
・Highly Skilled Professional visa
Professor, Artist, Religious Activities, Journalist, Business Manager, Legal / Accounting Services, Medical Services, Researcher, Instructor, Engineer, Specialist in Humanities / International Services, Intra-Company Transferee, Entertainer, Skilled Labor
Cultural Activities, Student
As you can see, Dependent visa almost covers all of the working visa except for Nursing Care, Technical Intern Training and Specified Skilled Worker. Note that there are 2 types of Specified Skilled Worker, a) and b), while the latter is allowed to invite family to Japan.
Also other two general visa holders: Dependent and Training, are not eligible to bring family. Other visa holders like Spouse of Japanese National, Permanent Resident, etc, are also allowed to bring family in other visas which will be talked about in the last.
First of all, the hosting person, the foreigner who wants to invite one's family to Japan, should hold one of the above said residence status.
If the hosting person is staying with a Student visa, then whether or not family members are eligible depends on the type of school he or she is attending.
・Not a night school or correspondence courses at a college or an equivalent educational institution, a specialized course of study at an advanced vocational school, an educational institution designated for preparing persons who have completed 12 years of education at a school in a foreign country to enter a college, or a college of technology
・At a night school studying for a course for entering a graduate school offered by a college where he or she has enrolled
Someone attending Japanese language institutions may be not able to invite family. It is better to check with the institution.
Second, not all family members are eligible, only:
・legally married spouse
・legal child including legitimate child, recognized illegitimate child, and adopted child
・In some cases a parent who is over 65 and can't support oneself in his or her home country
You can't bring a parent not corresponding to the above case or other relative, a fiance, or your spouse's children from previous marriages to Japan before adoption.
A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for the Dependent visa needs to be acquired from the regional Immigration Bureau in Japan first. You can apply for the COE on behalf of your family members in Japan, or if you are employed by a certain large enterprise who is able to get COE for both the employee and dependents, you may be able to bring your family with you at the same time. The former way may take up to three months while the latter may only take about 2 weeks from application.
The required documents for COE to be submitted to the Immigration Bureau are as follows:
1. Filled application form for each member of your family, which can be downloaded from the website
2. One photo for each member of your family (4 cm x 3 cm) with his or her name on the back and attach it to the application form in the designated spot
3. Documents to prove the relationship between you and the family member:
-If spouse, certificate of acceptance of registration of marriage, or marriage certificate in your own nation
-If child, birth certificate in your own nation
4. Documents to prove your occupation, income, and situations
a) If you are engaged in income-generating activities
-Certificate of employment or business license
-Certificate of Residence Tax amount and payment showing one full year of tax payment
b) If you are not engaged in activities with income like Student
-Bank account balance statement in your name or scholarship award statement showing the amount of award and period of payment
-Documents to prove that you have sufficient finances to meet your family's expenses while in Japan
5. One copy of your Residence Card or passport
6. Self-addressed and stamped envelope
After receiving the COE from the Immigration Bureau, send it back to your family and they can apply for a Dependent visa at the Japanese Embassy in your home country with it. Required documents usually vary by country, so be sure to check the official website before the application.
The period of stay will be determined by the Immigration Bureau case by case to be one of the following while within the hosting person's permitted stay in Japan: 5 years, 4 years 3 months, 4 years, 3 years 3 months, 3 years, 2 years 3 months, 2 years, 1 year 3 months, 1 year, 6 months or 3 months. If your family members want to stay in Japan longer, an application for visa renewal should be taken in 2 months before its expiration.
Holders of Dependent visa are not allowed to work full time. However they will be allowed to work part-time if they apply for permission from the Immigration Bureau, which is called "Permission to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted".
Keep in mind that even with this permission the visa holder is still prohibited to work over 28 hours per week or work in the entertainment industry in any job title.
As said above, almost all the working visa and general visa holders can invite their spouse and children to Japan with the Dependent visa, so as Highly skilled professional visa holders. In the case of their parents or child of the spouse by a former marriage, they can apply for the Designated Activities visa.
For other long-term visa holders, they are allowed to invite their family in other visas.
・Designated Activities visa holders, can invite their family members to Japan in the same visa.
・Permanent Residence visa holder
-Spouse and a child who was born and keeps living in Japan can apply for Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident visa
-A minor, unmarried child who was born out of Japan or adopted, can apply for Long-term Residence visa
-A parent can apply for Designated Activities visa