If a foreigner get married to a Japanese national, or a person born as a Japanese child, or adopted by a Japanese national, he or she can obtain a Spouse or Child of Japanese National visa to live in Japan. This visa has no limitations on the holder's activities and no requirements for expertise or skills, which makes it feel like an easy way towards a life in Japan. Actually it is quite easy to apply for this visa if the relationship is true though a frequent renewal is needed, while very difficult for fake relationships like fake marriage, as the details of the relationship will be checked thoroughly by the Immigration Bureau.
As a visa based on family relationships, once the relationship turns invalid this visa will turns invalid normally. For example, if a holder of the Spouse of Japanese National visa divorced or the Japanese spouse died, he or she must notify the Immigration Bureau within 14 days and the status of residence may be cancelled 6 months later if there is no other valid reason to keep staying in Japan.
The permitted applicants for a Spouse or Child of Japanese National visa are very straightforward as follows:
The applicant should be legally married with a Japanese national. Divorced, widower, widow or partner is not eligible. Basically, the applicant has to live together with the spouse otherwise it may be regarded as a fake marriage.
The relationship between the applicant and his or her Japanese parents needs to be judged as the same as a legitimate child by the family court, and the relationship with his or her legitimate parents should be extinguished.
No matter a legitimate child or an illegitimate child, he or she will be eligible if either one of his or her parents was Japanese national, or his or her already dead father was a Japanese national when he or she was born. It doesn't matter if the child was born in Japan or not. It is also possible for the father or mother to leave Japanese nationality after the child's birth.
Just like applying for other visas, applicants need to prepare for required documents and submit them to Japanese government offices in charge. If the applicant owns another visa other than Temporary Visitor visa currently, he or she should take the Change of Status of Residence process, otherwise he or she should apply for a COE (Certificate of Eligibility) first and then apply for the Spouse or Child of Japanese National visa. COE acts as an evidence that the foreign national meets the conditions for landing in Japan and must be applied at the regional immigration offices in Japan. Usually the Japanese husband or wife can do this on the applicant's behalf.
As there are a lot of fake marriages aiming at obtaining the spouse visa, the Immigration Bureau conducts a very strict check on the application. The applicants are highly recommended to submit documents as more as they can such as the details of date to prove the marriage. The required documents are as follows:
・Documents certifying that the applicant is the spouse of a Japanese national such as family register copy, marriage registration acceptance certificate, etc.
・Japanese spouse's Resident's Card with all households listed
・Documents certifying the profession and income of either the applicant or the spouse, such as Certificate of Employment and Certificate of Tax Payment, etc.
・A letter of guarantee from Japanese spouse
・A summary of all relatives
・Questionnaire which can be downloaded from official websites
・Snap photos of the applicant and the spouse to prove the marriage
・Documents certifying the parent-child relationship with a Japanese national, such as Japanese family register, applicant's certificate of birth, or parent's marriage certificate, acknowledgement of paternity, certificate of special adoption if relevant
・Materials certifying the applicant's financial stability
・Applicant's, or his or her parent's employment verification letter, or Certificate of Employment and Certificate of Tax Payment
・A letter of guarantee from Japanese guarantor residing in Japan
Japanese translations need to be attached for documents written in foreign languages.
Period of Stay allowed by the Spouse or Child of Japanese National visa can be either of 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, or 6 months. Holders can apply for an extension 2 months before the expiration to keep staying under this status of residence.
Out of the fake marriage problem, the immigration office tends to control the period of stay quite strictly. An applicant may be granted for 6 months or 1 year at first, then 1 year for the first extension, then 3 years for the second extension, then 5 years, or changing to a Permanent Residence visa.
One thing to note that if someone changes from a 3-year working visa to the spouse visa, the period of stay granted for the new visa won't be 3 years or more, but 6 months or 1 year. It heards unreasonable but it is true.
As one of the specified visas of Japan, Spouse or Child of Japanese National visa has no limitations on the activities that holders can engage in, which means that they are allowed to do any paid job in Japan including simple labor work, or part-time work. Other working visas usually limit strictly on work contents, workplaces or working hours, which makes the spouse visa much more attractive.
Foreigners under this visa still need to keep away from illegal businesses. As mentioned before, the granted period of stay is usually short and each time when he or she applies for renewing, whether he or she conducts good in Japan will be checked. If the answer is not, the application may be rejected and the holder will lose this status of residence.