Congratulations on getting married! Now you have both decided to live in Japan and so you need to apply for a spouse visa, which is surprisingly straightforward! Please note that this guide is for the UK, other countries may be similar but we can’t comment if they are exactly the same.
The Japanese embassy in the UK is based in London near Green Park Station, it is quite a nice location and it is based in an old building – which you can really feel when you go inside. The instructions for applying for a visa are surprisingly simple – especially if you are familiar with how complicated (and expensive) the UK visa system is.
The first thing to note is the following:
Visa applications (excluding “Certificate of Eligibility” applications) must be submitted at least 1 week before departure.
You do not need to make an appointment prior to applying.
Applications from non-residents in the UK (e.g. visitor visa holders) can not be accepted.
Visa applicants living in Scotland and North England (Cleveland, Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne&Wear) should contact the Consulate-General of Japan at Edinburgh.
Personal relationship or status for which residence is authorised:
Spouses of Japanese nationals, children adopted by Japanese nationals in accordance with the provisions of Article 817-2 of the Civil Code (Act No. 89 of 1896) or those born as the child of a Japanese national.
Purpose of Visa
Spouse of Japanese National Visa is for a legal spouse of a Japanese national to accompany that Japanese national to settle in Japan.
Child of Japanese National Visa is for a child of a Japanese national who does not hold Japanese nationality to live in Japan.
Period of Stay
3 years or 1 year
The documents required for your application are listed in the links below:
Alternatively, applicants can submit an application with a Certificate of Eligibility and no other documents will be required.
Within 14 days of moving into an address in Japan, Spouse or Child of Japanese National Visa holders must apply for Resident Registration at a local government office near to where they are living (further details).
Note 1: All applications for this category of visa must be made by the applicant in person at our office.
Note 2: The Japanese spouse is strongly recommended to be present at the time of application, if they are in the UK.
The really important thing to note is that you don’t need a Certificate of Eligibility, no ifs no buts, it isn’t required. However, if you don’t have this certificate then it means you have to provide other information (which is listed below), but from what I have experienced in terms of the Certificate of Eligibility it is far easier to provide the list of documents below (and quicker) than getting the certificate – which can take months.
So, if you don’t have a Certificate of Eligibility, then you must provide the following:
- Valid passport and UK Residence Permit/Entry Clearance where applicable
- One completed and signed Visa Application Form
- One passport-sized photograph (taken within last 6 months)
- One official copy of the Japanese spouse’s Family Register (戸籍謄本) showing the marriage registration. This copy must have been issued within three months prior to submitting the visa application
- Letter of Guarantee (Japanese or English) from the Japanese spouse
- The Japanese spouse’s passport. If the Japanese spouse is living in Japan, an official copy of the Japanese spouse’s Certificate of Residence(住民 票)and a photocopy of the Japanese spouse’s passport (ID page and any UK Residence Permit/Entry Clearance and Entry/Exit Stamps)
- Applicant’s recent bank statements (last three months) OR Certificate of Income of the guarantor in Japan
In some cases, additional supporting documents may be required. You should provide an original of each document. We do not return the documents submitted. Therefore, if you need to keep the original documents, please bring the original plus a photocopy. It normally takes 1 week to issue the visa.
Now, when you think about it the above is actually really simple, your passport, your photo, your Japanese spouse’s passport and Family Register (which must show the marriage registration), a Letter of Guarantee from your spouse (a ready made letter is on the embassy website) and your bank statements, and your application form. The application form is just one double sided A4 paper. If you have been in a relationship quite some time then you might have quite a large file of supporting evidence for your relationship, plus proof of living together, mortgage, children, etc, etc. None of this is needed. If you call the embassy they will emphasize to you to only bring the items on the above list.
The most complicated item in the list above is the Family Register, it can take 6-8 weeks if you do it from the UK. However, you might have noticed that even though they ask for recent bank statements they don’t actually say how much you need to show in the bank, or how much income your guarantor should be earning. If you are persistent in asking at the embassy then at least you can clarify this – for a UK bank statement you need to show £5000 in savings.
Once you have got the above documents you can just rock up to the embassy, no appointment needed. Inside there is a ticketing system, so you just have to wait for your number to be called and hand in your documents. They will do a quick check there, and if your documents are all in order then they will give you a receipt with the date you have to come back and the amount of money you need to pay.
It should be about 5 working days and the fee is £19. When you get your passport back there will be a sticker inside, this isn’t the actual visa – it gives you three months to enter Japan and get your spouse visa.
When you arrive in Japan at immigration they will create your residence card (which acts as your spouse visa) there and then. Please note that you won’t be able to open a bank account, etc, until you have registered an address at a local city hall – but that’s another story!