How to Get a Permanent Resident Visa for Japan
Are you dreaming of the day when you won’t have to worry about visa renewals?
Japan’s permanent resident (PR) visa is valid for life, and—if you can get it—you’ll no longer be restricted in the type of work you can engage in.
On the other hand, the screening process is rigorous, and government guidelines are scattered across numerous official sites and primarily only in Japanese.
To aid you in your quest, here’s everything we could pack into one article on how to get a permanent resident visa for Japan.
Bookmark this page for easy reference to eligibility requirements, what special provisions might apply to you, all the documents you will need to prepare, a step-by-step guide to keep you on track, and a list of common missteps to avoid!
Note: This article cannot serve as a substitute for tailored legal guidance. We suggest you ask an immigration lawyer or let a TokyoMate Assistant help you with research for specific questions.
Basic eligibility requirements
The following are the basic eligibility guidelines for a Permanent Resident Permit (永住権 = eijuken), summarized from the Ministry of Justice’s (MOJ) official statement, all of which must apply to you:
You have shown good behavior. You lead a law-abiding life in Japan.
You have a stable income. You earn enough (or your spouse earns enough) to live independently in Japan. I.e., the average annual income of Japanese citizens for the year in which you apply.
You have a guarantor. Your guarantor must be a Japanese national or holder of a permanent residency visa.
Your presence is good for the interests of Japan. The following clauses are stipulated in MOJ’s guidelines.
a. You have stayed in Japan for at least 10 consecutive years, 5 of which were under a work visa or other family status visa. (See following sections for exceptions.)
b. You have not been fined or imprisoned. You have also fulfilled all public obligations, such as payments of tax, pension, and health insurance premiums.
c. Your stay will not cause harm to public health in Japan.
Special provisions to 10-year residency clause
There are cases where the 10-year residency clause can be shortened. If any one of the following applies to you, you may be eligible to apply for a PR visa:
You are a spouse of a Japanese citizen or a spouse of a permanent resident, married for more than 3 years, and lived in Japan for more than 1 year consecutively.
You are the child of a Japanese national or permanent resident and have stayed in Japan for more than 1 year consecutively.
You have stayed in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively with the status of a long-term resident.
You have been recognized as a refugee, and you have stayed in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively after recognition.
You have been recognized to have contributed to Japan in diplomatic, social, economic, cultural or other fields, and you have stayed in Japan for more than 5 years.
Points-based preferential eligibility clause
Aside from the clauses mentioned up to this point, there are other clauses that will allow you to apply for a PR visa in Japan. These clauses are as follows:
You have stayed in Japan for 3 straight years and have scored 70 points for a full 3 years + the year leading to your PR application.
You have stayed in Japan for more than 1 continuous year and have a total of 80 points for an entire year + the year leading to your PR application.
The points mentioned here correlate to the points system developed for evaluating the immigration status of Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals.
At present, the Points Calculation Table is only found in Japanese on the MOJ site. However, archived versions of the English language pamphlet are still available to view.
(Image: Archived version of the Points Calculation Table)
Additionally, for those interested, here is an archived version of the English-language Point Calculation excel form, also not presently hosted on the MOJ site, although the Japanese version is. We’re including both the above image and the excel form only as a reference, to be updated with a link to the MOJ page if and when they republish an English version.
Documents to prepare for your PR application
The following list is translated and summarized from the MOJ site, which outlines what to prepare when applying for the PR visa. Also note, that some of the required documents will depend on your current visa/employment status.
Permanent resident permit application (form) 永住許可申請書 = eijuken shinseisho
Photograph 4x3 (taken within the last 3 months)
Letter of reason (free form, but must be submitted in Japanese) 理由書 = riyuusho
Certificate of residence住民票 = juminhyo
Certificate of employment (if you are working for a company) 在職証明書 = zaishoku shomeisho
Tax return (if self-employed) 確定申告書の控え= kakutei shinkokusho no hikae
Business permit (if self-employed and applicable) 営業許可書 = eigyo kyokasho
Tax payment proof (for years lived in Japan or for years under the point-based system) 納税証明書 = nozei shomeisho / 課税証明書 = kazei shomeisho
Proof of income/assets (photocopy of bank book, etc.) 預貯金通帳の写し= yochokintsuchou no utsushi
National pension payment proof 各月の年金記録 / 国民年金保険料領収証書 = nenkinteikibin /kokuminnenkin hokenryou ryoushuushousho
Health insurance premium payment proof 健康保険・厚生年金保険料領収証書 = kenkouhoken/kouseinenkinhokenryou ryoushuushousho
Passport ID page photocopy
Residence card photocopy, front and back 在留カード= zairyu card
Documents certifying guarantor’s nationality, residence, income, and occupation
Additionally, if you are applying with the point-based system, you will need to prepare the following:
Your points calculated based on the previously mentioned Point Calculation Table
Evidence to support your point calculation score (photocopy of degrees, JLPT certificate, etc.)
Some immigration experts recommend including a photocopy of your national health insurance card, letters of recommendation from upstanding citizens, and other additional material documenting your contributions to Japan and proof of good character.
Your step-by-step guide
Break down an arduous task—one step at a time. Use this step-by-step roadmap to help you plan and prepare for your next steps.
Step 1. Assess if you are eligible.
Examine the eligibility guidelines and determine if you meet the criteria for permanent residency. There is enough documentation on the topic in English to complete this first step on your own.
Step 2. Find a guarantor.
Your guarantor must be willing to sign and submit a Letter of Guarantee. There are no legal responsibilities that the guarantor must carry in relation to your application. All that is required of guarantors is that they are willing to sign the Letter of Guarantee and provide the following documents: a certificate of residence, tax certificate, and employment certificate.
Step 3. Consult a lawyer or book a consultation with an immigration bureau.
For cases where you have a spouse, dependents, or other questions that may or may not affect your eligibility, consult a lawyer or a legal office specializing in visas. Alternatively, the Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau offers free consultations at the Foreign Residents Support Center (FRESC) in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Step 4. Enroll and pay National Pension premiums.
If you aren’t already enrolled in Japan’s National Pension System, you must apply and then show proof of having paid premiums for the last 24 months. To acquire proof of payment, register to the nenkin.go.jp site and (after having paid your premiums) print out the “Monthly Pension Record” (各月の年金記録 = kakutuki no nenkin kiroku). Japan’s pension site is only available in Japanese, so if you need assistance with registering and printing papers from there, ask a TokyoMate Assistant for help.
Step 5. Write a “reason” letter.
There is no set form for this letter, but it must include why you desire a permanent resident visa. You may also want to include a brief background, history of stay, career highlights in Japan, and your family structure. You can write it in English, but submit a Japanese translation, too.
Step 6. Prepare documentation.
Gather all needed documentation, print out the PR application form, and get any English-language documentation translated to Japanese. (Let our experienced TokyoMate Assistants help you with this part!)
Step 7. Do a final check.
Give the MOJ guidelines a final check or ask a TokyoMate Assistant to go through your documents, checking that all your documents are in order. Remember, one mistake on a form or forgetting a requested document can equal numerous delays.
Step 8. File your application.
Bring all documentation to the Immigration Bureau for your city (there are 12 branches in Tokyo). Wait times are notoriously long, and these offices are only open on weekdays from 9 AM to 4 PM, so plan ahead. After submitting your documents, you will be asked to write your address and name on a postcard, which they will send to you when your application results are ready.
Step 9. Wait and wait some more.
The waiting period listed on the MOJ site is 4 months. However, recent reports of wait times suggest up to 1 year for your application to be processed.
Step 10. Pick up your permanent residence card.
When the application has gone through all the checks, a postcard will be sent to your address, notifying you that your permanent residence card is ready to be picked up. Go to the specified bureau counter, purchase a revenue stamp (8,000 yen), affix it to this form, and submit it—and then you’re done! Receive your permanent residence card, and … might we suggest celebrations are in order?
Set a reminder to yourself to renew your permanent resident card every 7 years, and keep in mind you must set foot in Japan at least once every year to keep your PR visa valid.
Note: If your application has been denied, you will receive a refusal notification in your mail. You can bring this refusal notification to the Immigration Bureau and ask for the refusal to be explained. However, this explanation will only happen once, so bring someone with you if you require Japanese assistance.
7 common missteps to avoid
The following missteps to avoid are summarized from accounts relayed on a broad range of immigration-related law sites and forums and reflect real-world experiences of the process.
Misstep 1: You didn’t submit all your documents in Japanese.
All documentation must be submitted in Japanese. E.g., if you include a photocopy of an English-language degree, add an attached paper that provides the Japanese equivalent. (Source: MOJ)
Misstep 2: You are late on a pension payment, or you aren’t enrolled.
Many immigration services state that one of the primary causes for refusal is not enrolling in Japan’s pension system or delayed pension payments. (Source: Tokyo Immigration)
Misstep 3: You didn’t promptly submit further requested documentation.
During the application process, an immigration official may reach out to you to request further proof or additional documentation. A prompt response is necessary. (Source: Tokyo Immigration)
Misstep 4: Your annual income did not match the requirements.
If you have many dependents, your taxable income will be lowered due to the deductions, which could become a reason for rejection. (Source: Continental Immigration)
Misstep 5: You left Japan for longer than 6 months during the PR application process.
If you left Japan after applying for a PR visa and stayed out of Japan for longer than 6 months, your application will be rejected due to the absence. (Source: June Advisors Group)
Misstep 6: You have repeated traffic violations.
Repeated traffic violations could be cause for refusal. The number should be less than 5 traffic fines in the last 5 years and less than 4 in the last 2 years. (Source: Continental Immigration)
Misstep 7: You did not have the correct number of points for the required number of years.
If you are applying based on the Point system, you must have the full amount of points at the time of application + 3 full years for the 70 points clause or 1 full year for the 80 points clause. (Source: Continental Immigration)
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