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Becoming a permanent resident is an alternative to Japan´s naturalization process. Most of the ethnic minorities in Japan who do not qualify for automatic Japanese citizenship fall under this category, and it is an excellent option for foreigners who cannot get through the citizenship process or do not want to renounce their first nationality.


As a general rule, you must have lived in Japan for a period of ten years before you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. If your spouse is Japanese, however, this period can be as little as three years.


In order to have any chance of obtaining permanent residency you cannot have a criminal record (some officials extend this to traffic violations). In addition, you should be able to offer some contribution to Japan: working as a diplomat or for a listed Japanese company qualifies, as does teaching at a university. It helps if you have received professional awards or honours.


Be prepared to provide a convincing written explanation listing the reasons for your application, along with detailed financial records. Your employer will also have to submit financial information as part of the process.


Permanent residents no longer have to renew their visas to remain in Japan, and they also have easier time dealing with Japanese banks when it comes to credit and loans. The permanent resident visa is definitely the most stable status granted for foreigners. If granted, you don't need to change your visa status or extend its period of stay even when you leave your job or get a divorce in Japan. This is a remarkable advantage for those from overseas wishing to live in Japan as a permanent basis.

How the Permanent Residency differs from the Naturalization

Here are the main differences between a Permanent Residency and becoming a Japanese National:

Criteria & Requirements

If you would consider applying for Permanent resident visa, you should meet the following criteria:


1. Having resided in Japan for 10 years or more (there are exemptions, see below**)

2. Always had a good behaviour and conduct In Japan (no criminal record, no serious penalty as a car driver, tax payment, etc.)

3. Having sufficient assets or ability enough to make an independent living in Japan (stable income, savings, etc.)

4. Currently holding a visa with the longest period of stay (3 years in most cases)

5. Your permanent residence in Japan shall be in accord with the interests of Japanese society


** Exemptions from the 10 years residence principle **

- Spouse of Japanese National

More than 3 years of marriage including more than 1 year of residence in Japan


- Child including Specially Adopted Child of Japanese National

More than 1 year of residence in Japan


- Long Term Resident, Recognized Refugee

More than 5 years of residence in Japan


- Good Contributer to Japan

More than 5 years of residence in Japan for those who have been recognized for having made contribution to Japan in diplomatic, social, economic, academic, cultural or other fields including sport activity.

Generally, it takes 6 to 10 months for you to get a final result of Permanent resident visa from the Immigration Bureau. Please be aware that you are still required to renew your current visa before your Permanent resident visa application is approved.

Necessary documents for the application

Necessary documents to apply for the Permanent Residency differs from you situation. Each case is different and the Immigration Bureau might ask different documents for each person. If you use our services at Minori Legal Consulting Office, we will have a free consultation with you for a better understanding of your situation, and tell you exactly what documents and information would be necessary for the application, and what would make the procedure smoother.


But basically, you will for sure need to write a letter in Japanese, which describes the reason for your application for the Permanent Residency in Japan. You can write it in English and we'll take care of translating it for you.


For your personal identification, you will need various certificates such as your Residence Certificate (Juminhyou), family register, your birth certificate and your marriage certificate (if married). You will of course also have to certify your social status and financial support (employment certificate, company registration if you have your own company, etc.).


One of the most decisive and important point is being able to certify that you are properly paying your taxes in Japan. A copy of your final tax return, certificate of residential tax payment, certificate of national pension and health insurance payment, etc. will definitely be necessary for the application. A certificate of your bank account balance might be necessary in some cases.


Finally, recommendation letters from companies and/or universities can be a big push as well. If you have received a decoration for bravery or distinguished services, or a certificate of commendation from a local government or the national government of Japan, then you should submit certified copies of them. You may also submit any proof of your activity as a volunteer. The possibility of obtaining a Permanent Resident visa improves with thorough preparation and submission of the above documents with the application form.


⚫︎ Any certificate among supporting documents has to be issued within 3 months before the date of application.

⚫︎ English translation written in foreign languages other than English would be necessary.

⚫︎ Additional documents may be required during the examination of Immigration Office.

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