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Becoming a permanent resident of Japan by applying for a residence permit, the eligibility criteria and required documents for application

Expatriates who have been living in Japan for a considerable amount become eligible for Japan Permanent Residency.  This is advantageous for those who want to make Japan their home for the long-term or permanently because it offers a reprieve from many bureaucratic and tiresome processes.

What Are the Benefits of Japan Permanent Residency?

If you become a Permanent Resident of Japan, you will have many more benefits than those living on temporary residence status, such as:

  • You no longer have to renew or extend your visa. The status of Japan Permanent Residency is valid indefinitely.
    • You still have to renew your Residence Card every seven years and get a Japan Re-Entry Permit if you will leave the country for longer than 1 year, but those are just formalities.
  • You can work for any employer you want, and you don’t have to apply for a change of your residency status if you will engage in different activities. In short, you can do any activity you like (as long as it is legal, of course).
  • You can get a loan from a Japanese bank.
  • You get better access to public housing.

Who is Eligible for Japan Permanent Residency?

You can apply for Japan Permanent Residency if you fulfill the following requirements:

  • You have been living in Japan for a sufficient period of time. The required time changes depending on the residency status you have held:
    • As the holder of a Highly Skilled Professional Visa:
      • Three years if you reached between 70-80 points on the Point Evaluation Mechanism
      • One year if you reached over 80 points on the Point Evaluation Mechanism
    • If you are the spouse of a Japanese citizen or permanent resident: You can receive Japan Permanent Residency after one year of residence in Japan, but you must have been married for at least three years
    • If you are the child of a Japanese citizen or permanent resident: You can receive Japan Permanent Residency after one year of residence in Japan
    • If you have made a contribution to Japan: You can receive Japan Permanent Residency after five years of residence in Japan
    • If you had any other type of visa (other than the ones mentioned above), you can apply for Permanent Residency in Japan only after ten years of continuous residence. During this time, you must have had a Japan Work Visa for at least five consecutive years.
  • You display good conduct. This means you must have abided by Japanese laws and have not been subject to social criticism during your residence in Japan.
  • You can support yourself financially. You do not depend on someone else for financial resources, and you can have a stable life in Japan.
    • There is no specific annual salary which you are required to have, but generally, it should not be less than 3 million per year. The requirements are higher if you have dependents.
  • You have paid Income Tax and other contributions in Japan. If you have not paid taxes, paid less then the required amount, or you cannot present Tax Certificates, your application can be rejected.
  • You must have a Guarantor who is a Japanese citizen or Permanent Resident. Your Guarantor has to sign a Letter of Guarantee and take on a moral obligation (not legal) in regard to you.

What Documents Do you Need for Japan Permanent Residency?

When you submit the application for Permanent Residency in Japan, you must also submit the following documents:

  • Completed and signed Japan Permanent Residence Application Form
  • Your passport and photocopies of your passport
  • Passport-size picture of yourself, with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4 cm x 3 cm
    • Taken within the last three months
    • Plain white background, without any patterns and shadows
    • You must be starting straight ahead, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your face has to be fully visible
    • The picture must be good quality (focused, clear, and sharp)
  • The Certificate of Residence
  • Proof of employment, depending on your employment status:
    • Employment Certificate, if you are employed in a company/organization
    • Business permit (if applicable) and/or Income Tax return statements if you are self-employed
  • Proof of your annual income
  • Proof you have paid your Residence Taxes
  • Your bank statements from the past year, showing your savings amount
  • If you are the spouse of a Japanese citizen: Your spouse’s Family Registry
  • If you are the spouse of a Japanese permanent resident:
    • Letter from your spouse, detailing your relationship
    • Your Marriage Certificate
  • If you are unemployed and dependent on your spouse:
    • Your spouse’s proof of employment, as explained above
    • A letter from your spouse explaining that they support you financially
  • If you have family members living in Japan with you: A Certificate of Residence for each of them.
  • Documents from your Guarantor:
  • A completed and signed Letter of Guarantee
  • Their Residence Certificate issued within the last three months
  • Their Resident Tax Certificates
  • Proof of Employment

Note: All the documents you submit have to be in Japanese or accompanied by a Japanese translation.

How to Apply for Japan Permanent Residency?

You have to submit your application for Japan Permanent Residency before your current residency status (your visa) expires.

  • You have to gather the required documents for Japan Permanent Residency applications (below)
  • Submit them to the local Immigration Bureau (the one responsible for the region of Japan in which you live and work). You can submit the documents yourself, or authorize your sponsor or a legal representative to submit them on your behalf.
    • You can find a list of the locations of Japan’s Immigration Offices on the website of the Immigration Services Agency of Japan (here).
  • Wait for the application to be processed.
  • If your application is approved, go to your local municipality office (also known as a Ward Office) to exchange your current Residence Card for one which names you as a Permanent Resident.

How Long Does the Application Process for Permanent Residency in Japan Take?

It takes about six months for the Immigration Services at your local Immigration Bureau to process your application for Japan Permanent Residency.

However, in some cases, it may take longer, depending on the specific situation. As such, if your current visa is set to expire while your application is still being processed, you still have to get a Japan Visa Extension.

How Much is the Fee for a Japan Permanent Residency Application?

The fee for the Japan Permanent Residency application is 8,000 Yen, which you have to pay through revenue stamps.

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