My tenure in Japan has reached 10 years and thus I decided to apply for permanent residence (eijyuken/永住権or 永住許可) this January. Aside from the statement of reason (riyusho/理由書) I compiled and completed all documents on my own. The following are the things I learned about the permanent residence application process here in Japan. Please note that I currently hold a “Specialist in Humanities/International Services” visa; your procedures might be different if you hold a different visa or are in a different situation (married to a Japanese national, etc.).
As application prerequisites, you must be:
a) A good (law abiding) citizen
b) Financially independent
c) Have been living in Japan for at least 10 years, 5 of which you are working
d) You have been paying your taxes
e) In general, you are considered as non-threatening (no criminal record) and are an asset to Japan
The above 10 year rule can be shrunk down to 5 years for successful business-people, athletes or scholars (nobel prize winners, etc.). People married to Japanese nationals or have children with Japanese nationality, etc. get special treatment as well.
The Statement of Reason (riyusho)
A complete list of the documents that need to be submitted with the application can be found here (in Japanese). The most demanding document by far is the statement of reason or the riyusho in Japanese. I made a simple format for this document which can be downloaded (Word file) at the bottom of this page. I did not find much information regarding how to write a riyusho in English or Japanese online and therefore consulted with an attorney that specializes in Japanese visas. The following are questions asked by the attorney during the consultation and their reasoning.
Your work history (your work history should be attached to the riyusho. Immigration looks at where you have worked and how long.
ie: your chances of getting good application results are better if you have:
– a stable job for a large organization
– you have worked for this organization for a long time (the longer the better; the less job changes the better
– you are a permanent employee (seishain/正社員)
In the past 10 years that you have lived in Japan, were there any gaps where you went back to your home country? Apparently the 10 years resets if you leave for prolonged periods of time (3 months or longer?)
Have you been arrested for anything? This includes traffic offences! Depending on the number and severity of the offences, etc. this might influence your application results. In other words, one parking ticket might not be a big deal, but a speeding ticket where you went 50km over the limit, or several parking tickets will make you a “bad citizen” and will lower your chance of being approved. The immigration office only looks back five years so if you had a traffic violation four years ago, it might be a good idea to wait a year before applying. If you can’t remember when you had that last speeding ticket, you can apply to have your history sent to you. More info (in Japanese) can be found here.
How much do you make? And how much have you made in the past five or so years while living in Japan. The more the better since Japan will get more tax income from people that have a high income but as long as you have a stable income which is enough to live on, this should not be a big deal.
After having the riyusho written, I re-arranged and re-wrote parts of it to make sure it is accurate. My final document can be summarized into the following points:
How I got here (an exchange program? Homestay? Teaching? Etc.) In my first paragraph I briefly explained how and why I came to Japan in the first place.
A brief explanation of my work experience since coming to Japan. In my case I have switched jobs several times and therefore explained why I quit certain jobs, etc. and that my current job is stable and I plan to keep for years to come.
My reason for needing a permanent residence permit. I like Japan and want to live here a long time is not a very good reason. The standard reason is to write that you plan on living and working here for a long time; you want to buy a house here; in order to qualify for a loan, you need a permanent residence permit.
I was involved in a small traffic accident three years ago. In this paragraph I explained the details of the accident and how I plan to be extra careful when driving in the future.
Thanks for considering my application, yoroshiku, etc.
Please note that the riyusho must be in Japanese or have a Japanese translation if written in another language. It must be dated, signed and addressed to the Minister of Justice (houmudaijin/法務大臣).
– Documents that prove your address and identity, etc.
– Documents that prove you have been paying your taxes for the past three years
– copy of your bank statement(s). The attorney mentioned that you do not necessarily need huge savings in your account.
You will need to find someone to be your guarantor. The guarantor does not need to be anyone with a high income; according to the attorney the guarantee is nothing but a formality.
I had my boss write me a recommendation letter saying how the company values/needs my skills and hopes to keep me for a long time. I also included a copy of my Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) passing certificate.
According to my attorney, the examination process could take longer than six months. When I handed my documents into the immigration office however, I was told that the wait should be around four months.
The attorney also told me that the examination process is lenient towards North Americans and Europeans as opposed to people from South East Asia for example (I’m not sure if there is truth to this).
Riyusho word document (you obviously have to write your own reasons for wanting permanent residence, but hopefully this file can give you some pointers as to where to start)
I will post an update on how my application went. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, etc.