If you are married to a Japanese national and you want to join them in Japan, you need a Japan Spouse Visa. Technically, the Japanese Spouse Visa is what’s known as a visa for spouses and dependents of Japanese citizens or residents (foreigners who are working/studying in Japan).

The Japan Spouse Visa is a type of temporary residence visa, or long-term visa, which means you have to get a Certificate of Eligibility from the Immigration Services in Japan before applying.

Who Needs a Japan Spouse Visa?

You need a Japan Spouse Visa if:

  • You are a foreigner married to a Japanese national (or the dependent child of a Japanese national), and you want to join them in Japan
  • You are the spouse or dependent child of a foreigner who is living in Japan temporarily or permanently (on a Work Visa, Student Visa  or through another residence status) and you want to join them in Japan
  • You intend to join them there long-term. In other words, you are not simply visiting them since in that case, you would require a Japan Tourist Visa.

Citizens of several countries are exempt from a Japan Visa  for short-term purposes, such as tourism, visit, business, or other recreational purposes. However, for long-term purposes (such as the Spouse Visa), even if you are from one of those countries, you need to apply for the relevant visa before you travel.

What Documents Do I Need for a Japan Spouse Visa Application?

When you apply for a Japanese Spouse Visa, you and your sponsor (the family member) have to submit several documents first to the Immigration Services in Japan, and then the Embassy/Consulate. The documents you must submit include:

  • The Certificate of Eligibility
  • Japan Spouse Visa Application Form, completed and signed. You can download a copy of the application form from the website of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (here).
  • Your valid passport along with photocopies of it
  • Passport-size pictures with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4cm x 3cm
    • 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)
  • A Letter of Guarantee or Sponsorship from your sponsor
  • Proof of family relationship between you and your sponsor (Marriage or Birth Certificate)
  • Proof of your sponsor’s profession in Japan
  • Proof of your sponsor’s annual income and tax payments
  • If your sponsor is a foreign national: Copies of your sponsor’s passport, showing his/her relevant visa and Registration Certificate
  • If your sponsor is a Japanese national: Copies of your sponsor’s passport and Residence Card

How to Apply for a Japan Spouse Visa?

The application process for applying for a Spouse Visa for Japan is divided into two parts:

  • Obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility
  • Submitting the Japan Spouse Visa application

Obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility in Japan

Every foreigner who enters Japan for non-temporary reasons needs to get a Certificate of Eligibility from the Immigration Services in Japan . However, since you have to get this before you enter Japan, it is your spouse that’s in charge of handling the COE application on your behalf, whereas you have to send them any relevant documents.

The purpose of the Certificate of Eligibility is to support the actual visa application process, not to replace a visa. It serves to show you have the approval of the Japanese Immigration Services and that you meet the entry requirements set by the Japanese government for foreign residents.

So, the Certificate of Eligibility for Japan is merely a pre-requisite; you still have to apply for a Japan Spouse Visa from your home country, but once you have obtained the COE, this process tends to go smoother.

Applying for the Japan Spouse Visa

After you receive the Certificate of Eligibility, your spouse must send it to you and you can use it to apply for the Spouse Visa from a Japanese Consulate or Embassy in your country. You have to:

  1. Contact a Japanese Embassy or Consulate near you. Find a list of the Japanese Embassies, Consulates and Permanent Missions here.
    • Some Embassies/Consulate don’t accept direct visa applications, in which case you need to apply through an accredited travel agency or a visa application agency.
  2. Collect the required documents for a Japan Spouse Visa (see below)
  3. Submit the Japan Spouse Visa application either directly at the Embassy/Consulate or at the travel agency or visa application agency. If the Consulate or Embassy considers it necessary, you may also have to bo back for an interview or to submit additional documents.
  4. Collect the visa. Once your Japan Spouse Visa application has been processed, you have to go back to receive your passport. If the application was approved, you may enter Japan.

How Long Does it take to Process a Japan Spouse Visa Application?

The processing time for a Japanese Spouse Visa at the Embassy or Consulate is about 5-10 working days.

However, the process of obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility is longer – it can take anywhere from one to three months.

What Do I Do After I Enter Japan With a Spouse Visa?

After you enter Japan with a Spouse Visa, you will receive a Landing Permission at the port of entry. If you have a single-entry visa, it will become invalid once you get the Landing Permit. If you have a multiple-entry visa with longer validity, it will remain valid even after you get the Landing Permit.

The Landing Permit replaces your visa and allows you to legally stay in Japan.

But in addition to the Landing Permit, you also have to get a Residence Card and a Re-Entry Permit.

Get a Japan Residence Card

If you enter Japan through Narita, Haneda, Kansai or Chubu Airports you will receive a Japanese Residence Card upon entry. If you enter through any other port, you can get the Residence Card at one of the local municipal offices in Japan.

Then, within 14 days of setting up residence in Japan, you have to report your stay at one of the local municipal offices (also known as Ward Offices). Your address will be printed on the Residence Card.

Get a Re-Entry Permit

If you want to be allowed to leave and re-enter Japan for the duration of your visa, you can apply for a Japan Re-Entry Permit at your local Japanese Immigration Office. However, if your stay outside Japan is less than one year, you need a Special Re-Entry Permit instead.

How Much is the Fee for a Japan Spouse Visa?

The fees for Japan Visas are as follows (you only have to pay the visa fee if the application is approved):

  • Single-entry visa: 3,000 Yen
  • Double-entry or multiple-entry visa: 6,000 Yen
  • Transit Visa: 700 Yen

Keep in mind:

The fee for the visa can change depending on the country, the purpose of your visit, as well as the local currency.

What is the Duration of a Japan Spouse Visa?

Depending on your specific case, you can receive a Japanese Spouse Visa with a duration starting from six months to up to three years.

If you have been married for a short period of time (less than 1 year), you will likely get a one-year Spouse Visa.

However, regardless of the duration of the visa you received, you can apply for an extension before it expires.

When you apply for the Japan Spouse Visa Extension, you have better chances of obtaining one that’s valid for a longer period of time.

Extending a Japan Spouse Visa

Before your current visa expires, you can apply for an Extension of Period of Stay in Japan, by submitting the following documents at the Immigration Office that represents the region of Japan in which you live:

  • A completed Extension of the Period of Stay Application Form (you can download it from the website of the Japan Immigration Services Agency)
  • Your passport
  • Your Residence Card
  • Passport-size picture of yourself, with the following specifications:
    • Dimensions: 4cm x 3cm
    • Taken within the last three months
    • Plain and light-colored 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)
  • Proof you meet the financial requirements to continue living in Japan
  • A copy of the family registration of the Japanese citizen or foreign resident
  • A copy of the Residence Card of the Japanese citizen or foreign resident
  • Proof of the income and profession of the Japanese citizen or foreign resident
  • Letter of Guarantee from the Japanese citizen or foreign resident

Can I Work with a Japan Spouse Visa?

You can only work in Japan with a Spouse Visa if you are married to a Japanese citizen or a Permanent Resident.

If you are the spouse or dependent of another foreigner living in Japan, you have to get a Work Visa)  (permission to work from the Immigration Services) before you are allowed to take up employment in Japan.

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