How to's

How to Get a Spouse Visa in Japan (Spouse of a Japanese National)?

While it can sometimes feel like an easy way towards a visa, the "Spouse of Japanese National" visa is one of the most complicated procedure I had to do in Japan. Luckily, if you have all the information in hand beforehand, you should only have to do one trip to your immigration bureau. I got my first spouse visa 4 years ago. At the time, they gave me a 1-year visa, which from what I heard, is pretty common. Note that of course, applying for such a visa requires of you that you are married to a Japanese national. Upon renewal (which I will explain in this article too), I got three years. I will share with you my experience of the process and hopefully, that will help you in your own application. Note that I will assume here that you are the main fund provider of your household. I am a firm believer that someone who wants to settle in Japan has to be an active member of society. If you hope to get your visa and living allowance from your spouse, please look elsewhere for advice.

The process of application for the Spouse of Japanese National visa is essentially a two-step process. Most of the work is accomplished in the first step, the one where you request a Certificate of Eligibility. Only once you have that certificate, can you properly apply for the Spouse of Japanese National visa. Let's take things step by step.

Certificate of eligibility

One of the most important document you will need to add to your application for a spouse visa is the zairyu shikaku nintei shomeisho (在留資格認定証明書, certificate of eligibility). It is the most difficult document to obtain in the while procedure and once you have it, the rest should be very straight forward. Please note that obtaining such document can take up to 3 months so you really need to take that into account before thinking of applying for the spouse visa. The following list describes what you will need to obtain the certificate of eligibility, and where to get it from.

For yourself

These are the first elements you will need to gather. Make sure not to forget any before you get bogged down with other documents!

  • One photo (40 mm x 30 mm). You can take it in any automated photo-booth located in train and metro stations. The format is usually shown as "driving licence" format. Be careful, this is larger than the "passport format". It should have been taken within 6 months of your application and you should be facing forward, in front of a plain background.
  • One return mail envelope (to your home address) with a stamp worth 392 Yen (for registered mail).
  • Pictures of you and your spouse to prove that you are a real couple. The rule of thumb if 2 to 3 pictures but I made a Word document with about 10 pictures if my wife and I in major events such as New Year, holiday trips, wedding ceremonies, etc. along with some labels as to the date and information about the contexts in which they were taken.

from the Immigration bureau website

The immigration bureau website dealing with certificate of eligibility should be your first stop for information but unfortunately, it often misses some essential information for a successful application. Besides, there are a lot of different visa applications that can be obtained so make sure you download the right application form.

  • One application form (在留資格認定証明書交付申請書) for a certificate of elligibility for a visa a spouse our child of a Japanese national (pdf or excel versions)
  • One letter of guarantee by a person living in Japan. Hopefully, that person should be a Japanese national. In most cases, that would be your spouse or one of their relatives living in Japan. The form needs to be sealed with their personal stamp.
  • One questionnaire form (質問書) where you will describe in painstaking details your relationship, wedding, and family. Note that you will need to provide the witnesses' information. That person should have been the witness for your wedding and be ready to answer a few questions about your couple if needed.

From the ward office

Going to the ward office and getting the documents can be a hassle in spite of the helpfulness of the staff. Here is a list of what you will need from them so that hopefully, only one trip will be necessary.

  • Your spouse's koseki tohon (戸籍謄本, family register). This is the document that states that you are married to a Japanese national.
  • You household's jumin-hyo (住民票, resident registration certificate) showing all the family members.
  • Your (or the head of household's) tax certificates: nouzei-shoumeisho (納税証明書) and kazei-shoumeisho (課税証明書).

From your own country

You may or may not be legally married in your home country. Personally, I wasn't yet when I applied but if you are, you might want to add those documents to your application.

  • One wedding certificate or family register issued by your country. Note that this would only ne required if you are not yet married in Japan. You probably want to add a Japanese translation of this document.

Once you have gathered all the document, head to your regional immigration bureau and present your application. After that, just wait for the post.

Application for a Spouse of a Japanese National Visa

 Once you have received your Certificate of Eligibility the rest of the procedure shoudl be pretty straightforward. Here is what you will need to produce:

  • One photo (40 mm x 30 mm).
  • One Certificate of Eligibility (在留資格認定証明書 zairyu shikaku nintei shomeisho).
  • Your passport or resident card (在留カード).
  • One application form for a change of status of residence (pdf or excel).
  • One 4,000 Yen revenue stamp to be purchased at a post office or at the convenience store at the first floor of the immigration bureau in Tokyo.

Once you submit your documents at the local immigration bureau, it will take from 1 to 3 months to get an answer. Best of luck for your applications!

Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
A resident of Japan for nearly a decade, Guillaume Erard trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, where he received the 5th Dan from Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. He also holds a 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the secretive art that Morihei Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda. Erard is the Information Director of the International Aikido Federation and the Deputy Secretary of International Affairs of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Shikoku Headquarters. He is also passionate about science and education and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.
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