Perhaps the most popular article on this blog at this point is my guide on How to Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility and Spouse Visa for Japan. But I often get questions there about Japanese Dependent Visas, as well.
This article, I hope, will make that process clear.
How to Get a Dependent Visa to Bring Your Family to Japan
Of course, we all want to live together with our family. But when you first come to Japan, it can be hard to understand how to do that. If you have one of the Residence Status listed below, you will be able to apply for a Dependent Visa for your spouse and children.
First, let’s get clear on who you can bring to Japan on a dependent visa.
- Your (legally married) spouse
- Your (legal) children
Who Cannot be Your Dependent
You cannot apply for a Dependent Visa for a parent or other relative, regardless of whether or not they depend on you for income.
You cannot apply for a Dependent Visa for a fiance.
You cannot apply for a Dependent Visa for your spouse’s children from previous marriages if you have not legally adopted them as your own.
Statuses Eligible to Apply for Dependent Visas
Almost all international residents in Japan are eligible to bring their family to Japan as Dependents. As long as your Residence Status is in the list below, you’ll be able to apply.
- 教授 Professor
- 芸術 Artist
- 宗教 Religious Activities
- 報通 Journalist
- 投資・経営 Investor/Business Manager
- 法律・会計業務 Legal/Accounting Services
- 医療 Medical Services
- 研究 Researcher
- 教育 Instructor
- 技術 Engineer
- 人文知識・国際業務 Specialist in Humanities/International Services
- 企業内転勤 Intra-company Transferee
- 興行 Entertainer
- 技能 Skilled Labor
- 文化活動 Cultural Activities
- 留学 Student
Other Residence Statuses
Someone who is living in Japan as a Dependent cannot have their own Dependent.
There are a few other statuses, such as Trainee and Designated Activities, that are not eligible to bring family members.
Other statues, such as Spouse of Japanese National, Permanent Resident, Diplomat, etc., have other methods to bring their family members to Japan and will not need the Dependent Visa process.
Can I Bring my Family With Me to Japan at the Same Time?
It depends on your employer.
Certain types of companies in Japan have special authorization to accelerate their Certificate of Eligibility application process for foreign employees and simultaneously apply for Dependent Visas for their spouses. Those companies are able to get Certificates of Eligibility for both the employee and the dependents within about 2 weeks from application.
If you are coming to Japan as a student, researcher, or working for anything less than a large enterprise, then you will not be able to bring your dependents to Japan at the same time as you. After you arrive in Japan, you will have to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for your dependents so they can join you Japan. That application process can take up to three months. Skip down to the instructions below.
What Companies Can Apply Simultaneously for Dependent Visas?
According to the Ministry of Justice, companies designated as Category 1 or Category 2 are eligible for the accelerated Certificate of Eligibility application process, provided that they are paying you enough to support your family members as well.
Category 1 and 2 companies must be “of a certain size” and make their present operating situation clear through public documentation. Specific examples include:
- Companies listed on the Japanese stock exchange
- Mutual insurance companies
- National or regional public organizations (公共団体 kokyo dantai)
- Independent administrative institutions (独立行政法人 dokuritsu gyosei hojin), Special public corporations (特殊法人 tokushu hojin), Specially-authorized corporations (特別認可法人 tokubetsu ninka hojin), Public organization-authorized public service organizations (公益法人 koeki hojin)
- Tax-exempt public benefit corporations listed in Table 1 of the tax exempt corporations list.
Category 2: Individuals or organizations that paid over 15,000,000 yen in income tax during the previous fiscal year.
If you are to be employed in Japan and want to know if your company can apply simultaneously for your dependents’ certificates of eligibility, the best thing to do is ask them directly!
Applying for a Dependent Visa Yourself
If you have to bring your family to Japan yourself, you will need to start with applying for their Certificate of Eligibility. Approval can take up to three months, so get started as soon as you can after you arrive in Japan.
As usual with the Immigration Bureau, the information available in English is vague. The requirements below are translated from the Japanese webpage:
Dependent Certificate of Eligibility Required Documents
- Completed application form. You can download the form from the Immigration Bureau website.
- One ID-quality photo: 30mm wide by 40mm high, showing the applicant (your dependent) from the chest up, facing forward, with no hats or background.
Write the applicant’s name on the back and attach it to the application form in the designated spot
- One self-addressed reply envelope with 392 yen in stamps attached.
- One of the following documents to prove your relationship:
- Family Register
- Certificate of acceptance of registration of marriage
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Any other document that can be accepted as meeting the requirements of the previous items
Note: Any documents in a foreign language must have a Japanese translation attached.
- Copy of the supporter’s (you) Residence Card or passport. (Submit copy of the Residence Card if you have it!)
- Proof of employment/activity and financial resources.
- If the supporter is engaged in business management or income-generating activities:
(a) 1 copy of certificate of employment or business license (must show supporter’s occupation); and
(b) Certificate of Residence Tax amount and payment showing one full year of tax payment. (Acquired from the City Hall where you resided as of Jan 1.
*If you have not been in Japan long enough to acquire a Certificate of Residence Tax showing a full year of tax, consult with the Immigration Bureau. A certificate of employment with salary may be sufficient.
- If supporter is not employed or earning income through operating a business:
(a) A bank account balance statement in the supporter’s name or scholarship award statement showing the amount of award and period of payment.
(b) Documents equivalent in nature to (a) that show proof of sufficient finances for the applicant to be able to meet their expenses while in Japan.
- If the supporter is engaged in business management or income-generating activities:
- Proof of identity, in case of application by proxy.
It is acceptable to fill out the application form in English, but all documents submitted as evidence must be in Japanese or be accompanied by a translation.
Financial Resources for your Dependent
As a general rule, 80,000 yen per month is considered sufficient resources for one person. Since you will be living with your dependent, you don’t need to double that for each person, but count on adding at least 40,000 for a spouse and a little less than that for each child (depending on their age).
As an example, I know of MEXT scholars who were successful in bringing a spouse and two children to Japan with a total income of 145,000 yen.
The Dependent Residence Status does not allow your spouse or children to work in Japan, so you need to plan to support them from your income. Your spouse will be eligible to apply for a work permit (called “Permission to Engage in Activities Other than that Permitted Under the Status of Residence Previously Granted”), but they will be limited to working no more than 28 hours per week. This is not going to be enough for your spouse to support him/herself.
A dependent is able to search for a full time job and use that to apply to change to a working residence status. However, finding a full-time job in Japan is quite difficult without some level of fluency in the language.
All of that will come later, once your spouse is in Japan. But it’s a good idea to have a clear understanding of your financial situation in advance.
Applying for the Japanese Dependent Visa
Once you have your spouse and/or child’s Certificate of Eligibility, you will need to send it to them so they can apply for their visa in your home country.
I recommend making a photocopy first and sending the Certificate by a reliable courier service. Your spouse/child will need the original Certificate of Eligibility to apply for the visa. The photocopy can help you apply for reissuance of the Certificate if it gets lost in the mail.
Visa requirements vary by country, so be sure to check the website of the Japanese Embassy in your country!
Making Travel Arrangements
Once you have the Certificate of Eligibility, your spouse’s dependent visa is all but guaranteed, so it’s safe to start making his or her travel arrangements to Japan.
Your spouse/child must arrive in Japan within 3 months of the date of issue on the Certificate of Eligibility (regardless of whether the visa has a later expiration date or not).
Congratulations! Your family will be together in Japan soon!
As always, please leave any questions or comments below and I will reply as soon as possible.