The TranSenz Guide to Applying for a Certificate of Eligibility and Spouse Visa for Japan
This guide is a follow-up to our guide to Getting Legally Married in Japan and is based on a translation of Sawa’s original article, 国際結婚手続き 配偶者ビザ編.
I wrote this guide based on my own experience. Sawa and I were living together in Bangkok, Thailand when we decided to move back to Japan so we had to rely heavily on my parents-in-law in Japan for assistance. You will need someone in Japan to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) on your behalf- whether that be family or an attorney. I will walk you through what that person needs to do as much as possible.
Difference Between Certificate of Eligibility and Visa
Even though the title of this article says “Spouse Visa,” the first and most difficult step is acquiring the “Certificate of Eligibility,” (CoE) or 在留資格認定証明書 (zairyu shikaku nintei shomeisho). The CoE takes anywhere from 1-3 months to acquire. Once you have it in hand, applying for your visa takes about one week.
A CoE is essentially a mandatory prerequisite to applying for your visa, no matter what type of visa you want. It is technically possible to apply for a visa without a CoE, but you will have to submit all of the same documents that you would submit for the CoE, plus a convincing explanation as to why you couldn’t apply for the CoE first. In this case, you are basically applying for both CoE and visa simultaneously but, since the CoE process is conducted only in Japan, all of your documents will have to be mailed back and forth, lengthening your application process significantly especially if there are any mistakes in your application.
The Immigration Bureau has Certificate of Eligibility application instructions on its website, but we learned during application that the instructions in English and the instructions in Japanese are, in fact, vastly different in specificity. If you follow only the English procedures, you’ll likely wind up in months of tsuika shorui (追加書類) hell. Tsuika shorui means submitting additional documents and accounts for the reason the process takes 1 to 3 months: One month if you follow the Japanese directions (or my translation, below). Three months if you content yourself with the English explanation and then submit supplemental documents, one-by-one.
Certificate of Eligibility Application Documents (English and Japanese)
|English List||Japanese List||Japanese list translation|
|Application form [PDF] or Application form [Excel]||在留資格認定証明書交付申請書 [PDF] 1通 or
|Photos (4cm×3cm) 1 copy (The photos must be clear enough without background, must be taken within 6 months before the application procedure and cover upper body with uncovered head.)||写真（縦４cm×横３cm） １葉
| Photos (4cm×3cm) 1 copy
*The photos must be clear enough without background, must be taken within 6 months before the application procedure and cover upper body with uncovered head.
*Write applicant’s name on the reverse of the photo and paste it to the appropriate place on the application.
|A return-mail envelope affixed with stamp(s) worth 404 yen (for the recorded delivery purpose)||404円切手（簡易書留用）を貼付した返信用封筒
|Return-mail envelope with a 404 yen stamp (for registered mail)
*Return address should be clearly written on the envelope
(Note: this is for domestic post, within Japan)
|Documents certifying that the person concerned is a spouse of the Japanese national and the copy of his or her resident card.||配偶者（日本人）の方の戸籍謄本 １通
|Japanese spouse’s Koseki Tohon 1 copy
*If the marriage is not recorded in the Koseki Tohon, then a Certificate of Acceptance of Application for Marriage must additionally be submitted.
*Documents must be issued within three months of the application.
|Residence Registration Certificate (Juminhyo) of the Japanese spouse, showing all family members.
*Documents must be issued within three months of the application
|Documents certifying that the profession and the income of the person concerned or his or her spouse.||配偶者（日本人）の住民税の納税証明書（１年間の総収入、課税額及び納税額が記載されたもの。） １通
|Japanese Spouse’s Certificate of Receipt of Juminzei (Residence Tax) Payment, that shows both the amount of tax and amount of payment for one entire year, 1 copy.
*If the Residence Tax certificate does not show both the amount of tax and the amount of payment received, then separate certificates of taxation and of payment must be submitted
*Documents must be issued within three months of application.
|A letter of guarantee by the person living in Japan. (PDF)||配偶者（日本人）の身元保証書 １通 [Japanese] or 配偶者（日本人）の身元保証書 １通 [English] or
|Letter of Guarantee written by the Japanese Spouse.
*This letter must be filled out by the spouse if they are residing in Japan
|A document that proves the status (if a legal representative or agent submits the application form on behalf of the applicant)||代理人の身分を証する文書等||Documents proving the identity and validity of the proxy, if necessary.|
|(No instructions provided in English)||申請人の国籍国（外国）の機関から発行された結婚証明書 １通
|Wedding Certificate issued by the foreign spouse’s country, 1 copy
*If the applicant’s country also issues family registers (e.g. Korea), then a copy of the family register showing the marriage may be submitted instead.
|質問書[PDF] １通||Questionnaire Form
The form is also available in other languages, but if written in another language, it must be accompanied by a Japanese translation.
|スナップ写真（夫婦で写っており，容姿がはっきり確認できるもの）２~３葉||Snapshots of the husband and wife together that clearly indicate married relationship, 2-3 photos|
This chart is meant to show that, while the English site’s general descriptions give the false impression that a wide range of documents might be acceptable, they are in fact looking for very specific proofs- proofs that would not be immediately obvious to anyone who hasn’t done this before. I will go over each of these requirements in more detail below.
One more piece of advice on turning in documents: If you require an exception to a particular condition- for example, your spouse does not have proof of residence tax payment because s/he is not employed in Japan, call the immigration bureau nearest your spouse’s hometown ahead of time to confirm what would be accepted as an alternative. Also, tell your representative in Japan to insist on turning in every document that you have prepared. The person at the desk may say that they are not all necessary, but our experience is that the person who told us that was wrong. If you have been told at any point (over the phone, etc.), or remotely suspect, that a particular document is necessary, turn it in, regardless of the desk worker’s protests. In our case, a document that was determined to be “unnecessary” at the desk, was requested by phone less than 24 hours later. Our parents, who had driven over an hour each way to the Immigration Bureau the day before had to drive back to turn it in again.
Applying for a CoE When Husband and Wife are Both Overseas
It’s easier to apply for the CoE if your Japanese spouse is working in Japan and has an established record of working there. But, if that were your case, you probably wouldn’t need this guide. If both you and your Japanese spouse are working overseas or if your Japanese spouse is in Japan but not working, the process requires a few extra steps, and a lot of mail between you and your representatives in Japan.
If your Japanese spouse is also working overseas, s/he will not have a current Juminzei and will not be able to fill in the letter of guarantee. You will also need a proxy applicant. According to the Immigration Office’s website, family members of either spouse who are legally resident in Japan can serve as the proxy. If you do not have family members in Japan, then a person with a letter of attorney or a legal scrivener can apply on your behalf.
Before You Apply: Are You Changing your Name?
If, following your marriage, either partner wants to change their legal name, do so before continuing with the CoE process (and make sure to update your name in the Japanese spouse’s Koseki!), so that you have the same legal name throughout your paperwork. Since we were moving to Japan, I decided to adopt my wife’s Japanese name. Laws on name changes vary by country (and US State), but I was able to change mine with no more documentation than a certified translation of our wedding certificate.
Important: If you change to a Japanese last name, know that you are not legally allowed to use kanji to write your name. You must continue write your name in English letters! I screwed this up and it has caused me no end of trouble.
Application Documents in Detail
Attention to detail and accuracy are absolutely critical in Japan, whether you’re applying for a CoE, college admission, or a job at Seven Eleven, so be extremely careful! Careless errors will lead to delays or possibly rejection of your application. Fill in forms digitally when possible. If using a pen, make sure it is a black, ball-point pen, and write in all capital letters. Forms will be rejected over the use of blue pen. To make corrections, do not use correction fluid. Draw a double line through the mistake and write the correction above it.
Documents below are listed in the order that they appear on the Japanese checklist. Japanese bureaucrats like it when documents are submitted in order, with multi-page documents joined by paperclips, not staples. (The first thing anyone will have to do with your document is to remove the staples to make photocopies, and careless staple removal may physically damage your application. I’ve seen it happen.)
1. Application for Certificate of Eligibility
Download from: the Immigration Bureau website. Be careful, as there are different forms for different visa types!
Notes for completing the application:
- The “Regional Immigration Bureau” is the regional HQ, not the branch office to at which you plan to apply. For example of your representative in Japan will apply in Kyoto, the regional bureau is Osaka. You can find a list of the regions and their offices on the Immigration Bureau website.
- “Nationality” in Japan means “country of nationality”. For example, “America” is correct, “American” is not. Your application is not going to get rejected over this, though.
- “Name”: Refer to the line near the bottom of the information page of your passport. You should see a code like: P<USATRANSENZ<<TRAVIS<TARO<<<. Ignore the three-letter country code (USA in the example) and write your name in the exact order it appears. Everything before the double < is your “last name” and everything after it is your “first name.” Japan considers middle names to be part of your first name.
Vietnamese applicants: Write your name in this order, even if the last name in the list is your “first name.”
Thai applicants: The “last name” field in your passport may show Mr. or Miss, but do not write that as part of your name!
- “Place of Birth” and “Hometown”: If these appear in your passport, then what you write in the application must match the passport. Otherwise, write the name of the city and country.
- “Occupation” should be your job before emigrating to Japan, regardless of your intended profession once you enter the country.
- “Address in Japan” and phone numbers: Enter the address of the person who is applying on your behalf (with their concurrence, of course).
- “Accompanying Persons”: Write the number and their relationship. (i.e. Wife and 2 children, total 3 persons.) If you have none, write “None”
- “Family in Japan”: It is only necessary to enter your wife or children if they are already in Japan. If you have no immediate family in Japan, write “none.”
- If you got married under Japanese law, like we did, you may not have had to register your marriage legally in your home country. Leave question 22(2) blank.
- Fill in Section 27 with your proxy’s information and have them sign. Section 28 is only necessary if you’re having a lawyer, etc., file for you.
2. Japanese spouse’s Koseki Tohon
If you were married outside of Japan and your marriage has not been entered in your Japanese spouse’s Koseki, you will need both the Koseki and a Wedding Certificate (with translation, if the certificate is not Japanese). The Koseki will have to be acquired from your spouse’s hometown city hall and the wedding certificate from wherever you legally registered your wedding.
These documents are there to prove your relationship to your spouse. Even if your marriage is not recorded in the Koseki Tohon, you still have to submit it. . . in order to prove that your marriage is not recorded therein, otherwise your alternative documentation might not be accepted. Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds.
3. Wedding Certificate issued by Foreign Applicant’s home country
If you are from a country that has a similar family register system (e.g. Korea), then a Koseki-equivalent, that shows the marriage will also suffice.
If you were married under Japanese law and are from a country that doesn’t issue any certification for marriages conducted under foreign law (such as the US), write a note titled “Foreign Wedding Certificate” and explain in one-to-two sentences that your country does not issue them. Have your spouse translate this into Japanese and sign it.
4. Japanese Spouse’s Certificate of Juminzei (Residence Tax) Payment
This serves as the “Proof of occupation and income.” Specifically, Immigration is looking for proof of employment (sufficient funds to support your lifestyle) in Japan. Tax records overseas aren’t sufficient here, since it’s assumed that overseas employment will no longer be valid once you’re living in Japan. If both spouses lack employment records in Japan, you will need a Japanese sponsor, such as a parent-in-law, to submit their Juminzei and act as your sponsor (this person incurs additional paperwork responsibilities, too, including your Letter of Guarantee).
If neither you or your spouse have income in Japan, and you have no family in Japan to provide this certificate on your behalf, contact the Immigration Bureau directly to find out what to submit.
For maximum coverage, you could also submit your overseas employment records, accompanied by an explanation of exchange rates and what the same/ similar job would pay in Japan (we did). However, submitting these documents alone will not be sufficient.
Juminzei records are issued in June and refer to the 12-month period that ended with the preceding December, so you/your spouse would have to be employed full-time in Japan a minimum of 18 months, if you timed it perfectly, in order to have a report that covered one full year. In some cases, a Certificate of Employment (在職証明書, Zaishoku Shomeisho) and Tax and withholdings report (源泉徴収票, Gensenchoshuhyo) may be an acceptable substitute. As always, make sure you get approval for substitutes before trying to submit your package.
5. Letter of Guarantee written by the Japanese Spouse
Even though it clearly says “written by the Japanese Spouse,” the spouse is ineligible to fill out the letter if they are not living in Japan. The Letter of Guarantee must be written by a Japanese citizen who is working inside the country. Generally speaking, whoever submitted the Juminzei for your application should also fill out this letter.
6. Residence Certificate (Juminhyo) of the Japanese spouse, showing all family members
If your Japanese spouse is not residing in Japan, they will not be able to get a Residence Certificate, so you will need to submit the Juminhyo for whoever provided documents 3 and 4, above. At this point, you may want to also consider getting this person a thank-you gift.
7. Questionnaire Form
Get ready for an invasion of privacy unlike anything you have experienced outside of a counterintelligence interrogation cell. This sneaky form doesn’t show up on the English checklist, and does not appear to exist in English. It has to be filled out in Japanese, so you’ll likely be turning to your spouse to fill it out.
According to the instructions at the top of the form, this is an important form for consideration of your application, all answers should be as detailed as possible, and any falsehoods will result in the rejection of your application for a COE.
The foreigner is the “Applicant” (申請者 , shinseisha) and the Japanese Spouse is the “Spouse” (配偶者, haigusha). Here is the information you will need to enter:
- Applicant’s nationality, name, and sex.
Spouse’s name with furigana, nationality, address, phone number, household members
Spouse’s type of housing (owned/rented), monthly rent, and number of rooms (in LDK format)
Spouse’s employer (including address and phone), position, and date he/she started working there.
*In this case, fill out the spouse’s information, regardless of whose documents you turned in for 3-5, above.
- When, where, and how you first met and a detailed explanation of your relationship up to the date of your marriage. Include dates and be as detailed as possible. You may attach additional sheets, as necessary, and may also attach photos, letters, and international phone bills to verify your statements. (We did not attach any of the latter).
Were you formally introduced (matching service, etc.)? If applicable, enter all of the following:
Nationality, name, sex, birthday, address, phone number, residence card number of your match-maker
Date, location, and method of your formal matching introduction
Relationship between the applicant and the matchmaker as well as the relationship between the spouse and the matchmaker, in detail. Writing “friend” or “work colleague,” is not sufficient.
- What language do you use in your home?
What are the applicant’s and spouse’s native languages?
To what degree do you understand each other’s native languages?
If the applicant understands Japanese, describe in detail where and when he or she studied it.
When you can’t understand one another’s language, how do you make yourselves understood? (If you use an interpreter, the interpreter’s details are necessary)
- If you were married under Japanese law, fill in your witnesses’ information.
- Fill in the details of your wedding ceremony/reception, if you held one.
- Fill in information about the applicant’s/spouse’s previous marriages, if applicable.
- Fill in the number of times, dates of, and reasons for the applicant’s previous visits to Japan. If the applicant previously resided in Japan, then the “reason” should refer to the residence status at that time.
- Fill in the number of times and dates of the spouse’s visits to the applicant’s home country, before & after marriage.
- Has the applicant ever been deported (received a deportation order) from Japan?
If yes, fill in the reason, date, your passport information at that time, and whether you and your spouse had lived together in a married state before that time.
- Fill in details of the husband’s family, wife’s family, and your children, including relationship, name, age, address (enter “dead” for deceased relatives), and phone number. If you have no children together, you must enter “none” (なし) in table (2)
- Circle the family members that are aware of your marriage.
8. Snapshots of you as a couple.
Two to three standard-size photos that clearly show both husband and wife and indicate that you are a couple.
9. Application photograph
4 cm high by 3 cm wide, showing head and shoulders face-on, with no hat or head cover and no background. Pictures must be taken within the past six months, have the applicant’s name on the reverse, and be glued to the appropriate place on the application form. Japanese bureaucrats will compare the photo you submit to your passport photo and any other photos of you they have and check the dates to see if they can prove that the photo is more than six months old. If they determine that it’s too old, your application will be held up until they get a new photo.
10. Self-addressed envelope with at 404 yen in stamps (thanks to reader Iifu for pointing out the price change with the recent tax hike!)
You must apply for the COE within Japan, so there is no provision here for an international reply. Once again, you’ll have to rely on your domestic sponsor to receive your documents and forward them to you by EMS, etc.
Other items may be necessary, depending on your situation.
- Your Guarantor’s inkan (personal seal). Alternatively, the guarantor can simply seal the document in advance, but if your guarantor is Japanese, the chances are good he/she carries his seal everywhere, anyway. A Ginko-in is sufficient (but a shachihata, rubber stamp, will not be accepted).
- If you are applying by way of a proxy, documents that prove the proxy’s relationship and suitability to serve in that position.
In the case of Spouse Visa, acceptable proxies include family members. Your proxy’s Juminhyo (if it shows the relationship) and government ID should be sufficient. If your proxy is your guarantor, they they’re already submitting their Juminhyo anyway.
If a lawyer or legal scrivener is applying for you, you’ll need a letter of attorney or contract, in Japanese, of course. But then, the lawyer or scrivener ought to be able to supply that.
- Anything else that is arbitrarily determined to be necessary at any time during the evaluation of your application.
Submitting Your Application
The decision on where to submit your applicant will depend on your location: if you reside in Japan, or your spouse/proxy’s location. It is rumored that the more distant the Regional Office is from major cities/ concentrations of foreigners, the faster it will be able to process your application, but it really depends on the office’s backlog at any given time. It is certainly best to avoid areas that have a lot of international college students in the Feb-Mar and Jul-Aug time frames, as these offices tend to get flooded with applications from the area colleges.
In our case, we applied to the Sendai Regional Office during January and got approval within a month, despite a few delays that resulted from the Immigration Office flip-flopping on whether certain documents were necessary (insist on turning in everything, regardless of the desk clerk’s opinion).
My mother-in-law did all the running back and forth to the Immigration Office (an hour drive each way) and my father-in-law provided all the necessary certificates. Without their help, this process would have been even more of a nightmare, so I am eternally grateful!
Validity Period and Entering Japan
Check the validity period on your Certificate of eligibility- it should be 3 months from the date of issue. You have to be in Japan before the CoE expires, so get going on your visa application and travel arrangements right away! The last thing you want to do is go through all that work a second time, right? (Thanks to Vernon Reid for pointing out that this should be in here.)
Now, it’s time for the Visa
The Certificate of Eligibility is the hard part, so once that’s done, only a simple application and a week or so of waiting stands between you and your visa! Generally, Japanese embassy websites will tell you that the visa application process takes 1-3 months, but that is assuming that you don’t have a Certificate of Eligibility and are completing both processes at once. If you have a CoE, then the visa will be a breeze.
In most places, you’ll apply directly to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate for your visa, following the instructions on their website. In Bangkok, however, the Embassy has contracted out management of the application process to a private, Thai-owned business called the Japan Visa Application Center. I assume this is due to the volume of applications received in Thailand. The JVAC office was larger and busier than many travel agencies I have seen, and appeared quite profitable, despite charging about 500 baht for their services.
*Trusting my passport in the hands of a private Thai business seemed like a risky proposition to me, based on past experiences, but when I called the Embassy to ask if the business was trustworthy, they got offended at my question. The JVAC is on the up-and-up, so don’t be worried.
Requirements for the Visa Application
Fortunately, there are no sneaky differences between the Japanese and English explanations here. The visa application process is straightforward and simple and takes about a week to complete.
- Certificate of Eligibility
- Applicant’s Passport
- 5 cm by 5 cm ID-style photo (see above for description and warnings
- Visa Application Form
- (Another) Questionnaire
*Whether or not this questionnaire is necessary seems to depend on the country from which you are applying, rather than your nationality. The primary purpose of this questionnaire appears to be a weak effort to stop Trafficking in Persons (TiP).
- Visa fees (There are no fees for Americans, but if there are fees for your country, don’t get upset- fees are based on your country’s visa treaty with Japan, and whether or not your country charges visa fees to Japanese.)
Single- or Multiple-Entry?
It doesn’t matter. Once you’re in Japan, you’ll get a residence card that will double as a re-entry permit for almost all situations. Multiple entry only matters if your period of stay in Japan is 90 days or lesss, because you don’t get a residence card in that case. Not a problem for Spouses.
Congratulations! It’s time to book your flight!
If you’ve been following our guides from the beginning, you’ve probably been working on this process for nearly three months, or so, beginning with your international marriage. Now, you’re finally ready to move to Japan! お疲れ様です!
If you found this guide useful or if you have anything that you think we should add, please let me know in the comments below!
Hi Travis. Great resource thanks!
I’d really appreciate your advice. My Japanese wife and I have just returned to Japan. I’m on a tourist visa and applying to get the CoE for a future spouse visa application while we’re here on the ground in Japan.
We’re a bit confused about how to complete questions 25/26/27 and the difference between supporter, guarantor and proxy.
As we were both working outside Japan for a few years, my wife doesn’t have a current Juminzei.
Qu.25(1) – Presumably, her parents will be my Supporters in Japan, even though we both have income from abroad and savings in Japan (but no Juminzei.) Or should we tick a few other options too and provide financial proofs (even from abroad?)
Qu.25(3) – Should this, or Qu.26 be completed?
Qu.26 – Does this need to be filled out? Why would this person be different from the Supporters in Qu.25(3)? Why do the sub-questions seem to imply a foreigner?
Qu.27 – Can my wife be my Guarantor or is it better to ask her parents to do that too?
Qu.28 – Is this referring to a Proxy (which we don’t need as we’re applying from within Japan?)
In general, a supporter provides financial support for you to live in Japan (it can be yourself), a guarantor is someone who guarantees that they will help you adjust to living in Japan, learning the laws, etc., and will help make sure that you leave Japan by the end of your period of stay-though in your case, I assume you’ll be extending, instead (this should be your wife), and a proxy is merely someone who applies on your behalf if you are physically unable to go to the immigration bureau.
25(1) If you and your wife will provide all of the financial support you need during your stay, via your savings and then finding work in Japan, you do not necessarily need additional supporters. Financial proof from abroad (bank account balances) is acceptable. You could also add your in-laws as supporters, if you want. Figure that they will want to see between 80,000-120,000 yen of support available per month. If your account balances are enough to cover that amount for a year, you could be your own supporters. In that case, your wife’s contribution would go in the “guarantor” line.
25(3)/26 You only fill in 26 if you have no intention to work/support yourself (kept husband/house husband). If you plan to support yourself but also have some external assistance (your in-laws) as you get on your feet, then your in-laws would go in 25(3). The sub-question in 26 imply a foreigner because this same form is also used for spouses/children of permanent residents. A Japanese supporter would skip those lines.
27 If you and your wife have sufficient funds, even if only savings and no Juminzei, she should be able to be your guarantor, but I have heard mixed results from different immigration offices on this, so you might want to contact them directly to double-check.
28 This is the person who is physically submitting the application. So, if you are going to the office, you would fill in your own information (relationship: self).
– Travis from TranSenz
Very helpful! Thanks so much.
this website helps me a lot of what requirements should need to prepare and information should need to do for my Application, but in our case, my Japanese husband is self employed and build his own company only this year. we afraid that the immigration will not trust my husband because of his job, because he’s self employed, can we get my mother-in-law as sponsor’s instead for my application, and also my husband’s residence tax payment is not updated, once he paid his lapses there is no problem afterwards? thankyou in advance, i’m looking forward for your reply. have a nice day.
Thank you for your kind feedback.
In your case, I think your husband should still be your guarantor, and he would submit his residence tax documentation. But your mother-in-law could be an additional financial sponsor.
I think it would be very important that he pay his taxes, first! Once he pays them and has the proof of payment, I’m not sure if it would show that there was a lapse in the past or not. If it just shows that the taxes are paid and up-to-date at the time, that should be sufficient, but I don’t have any direct experience with your situation, so I’m afraid I can’t say for sure. I do not know how far the Immigration Bureau digs into those details, but I don’t think they will go into a full background check on him.
– Travis from TranSenz
May I just say this was very informative. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this in detail. It’s a big help!
I am actually getting ready to file the COE for my spouse and daughter this May because it’s sucks being away from them.
My case a little big different though. I am a Japanese national, though I lived most my in Philippines.
I just moved to Japan in March and just got a job last April with a semi-full time position. Since I just started working and my position may not appear to be ideal to be the sponsor, I won’t be, so we would go for “self-support” option.
I was told, I needed to present nozei shomesho, which I can’t since I just got here and our municipal office can only provide one in June. Moreover, I won’t be able to give them the pay slip since my first salary would be in May (and I really want to file as soon as I can). Should I make a letter explaining my situation regarding tax certificate? What other documents can I provide to make sure the COE gets approved.
Please advise. Thank you so much!
Thank you for your kind feedback!
In your case, since you can’t get a Juminzei Nozei Shomeisho statement and you won’t have your first pay slip until later this month, you could submit a certificate of employment from your work that shows your salary. That was what I did when I applied for my first renewal of my Spouse Residence Status during my first year living in Japan.
You should also include a note explaining why you do not have the Nozei Shomeisho and that you are including the Certificate of Employment instead.
– Travis from TranSenz
Who should i get the Juminzei nozei shomeisho from in my case? My gaurantor is my Japanese wife’s dad but my financial supporter is my wife’s mum. My wife has only just come back to Japan with no job after several years in the UK, my wife’s dad is on pension, and my wife’s mum is unemployed but has her savings which we will show a bank statement of 4 million yen to prove she can financially support me.
Which of them, if any, needs to submit their juminzei? i.e.. Can my wife’s mum just use the bank statement instead of showing her juminzei? Does the gaurantor (wife’s dad) need to submit his juminzei? and Does my spouse need to too?
And if yes, do they need to submit both juminzei kazei shomeisho and nozei shomeisho (proof of payment)?
For cases like yours that don’t match the “expected” pattern, I recommend calling the Immigration Services Agency office where you will apply, to be sure, but here is what I would suggest:
– Submit your father-in-law’s Juminzei (including the nozei shomeisho), since the letter of guarantee asks him to certify that he will ensure that you have access to funds to support your life in Japan.
– Sumbit your mother-in-law’s bank statement as your financial sponsor.
– If you or your wife also have savings that you will use to support yourselves, submit those bank statements, too.
– Travis from TranSenz
I have one question, which you basically address in your article, but I would like to specify my situation because I’m confused by a couple things.
I’m getting ready to apply for the CEO. Every site says that I need to submit a marriage certificate from my home country (Canada). However, we weren’t married in Canada and Canada doesn’t require us to register the marriage unless we move there. Thus, I have no such document.
We were instead married in Yonezawa, Japan in 2012. I have a certificate of marriage from Japan. Would this not suffice?
Can you reiterate what exactly we should do when filling out the documents?
Thank you so much,
I was in a similar situation as a US citizen. My wife and I were married under Japanese law, so the US does not require separate filing.
I recommend that you include a document in your application file explaining that Canada accepts marriages legalized under other countries’ systems and does not require separate filing unless the couple moves to Canada.
A one-sentence explanation with your signature is fine. You just need something in there so that when the reviewer goes through it, they won’t think the document is missing.
If you can find an official source that supports your statement, such as a web page on the Canadian embassy’s site, and include that reference, that would be even better, but it’s not necessary.
– Travis from TranSenz
Hello, a question because when i was reading it arise, I will marry in 2 months someone who is not Japanese but have working visa here, so I can see i can apply dependent visa on her
Im now here with working holiday visa and 6 months left, so i need anyway the CoE? i ask because I’m already in Japan
or it’s possible to apply without this taking in mind that I’m already here?
It depends on your nationality.
In general, it is possible to apply for a “Change of Status of Residence” while still in Japan, instead of having to apply for a CoE (By the way, this article is about applying for a Spouse CoE for someone married to a Japanese citizen or permanent resident. I have a separate article about applying for a Dependent CoE or Change of Status of Residence that would apply in your case). However, the process of applying for a Change of Status of Residence is essentially the same and you have to submit all of the same supporting documents (basically, only the application form, itself, is different). You would be able to complete that process at the Immigration Services Agency Office in Japan.
However, in some cases, because of the nature of the working holiday visa treaty between Japan and the country, it is not possible to change your Status of Residence in Japan and you would be required to leave the country after your working holiday is over. I do not have a list of which countries this applies to, so I recommend that you contact your country’s embassy in Japan for more information.
– Travis from TranSenz
I don:t know where to start my letter, but last night my japanese spouse handed me a divoirce paper so i was really shocked. actually i just got my spiouse visa last week, but ever since that day my spouse changed a lot, we woke up at 3 a.m. and suddenly got angry at me and took my cellphone and I couildn:t access the internet I stayed in teh house for days without access to the outside world, today i was able to go out cuz i said i want to go to the doctor, cuz im not feeling well. im not sure what to do, as a foreigner living in japan im not sure if i have rights here, i wanted to escape last night but it was too cold, i come from a tropical country,so winter and even autumn is really cold for me, i hope u can give me an advice on my probem, should i go to my embassy and seek help.
Hi Don’t Know What To Do,
I am very sorry to hear about your situation. That sounds terrible!
You absolutely have rights as a foreign resident of Japan and it sounds like your spouse is essentially keeping you prisoner.
Going to your embassy for help is one good idea. If there is an international association in your city, then they might be able to help, too. They should be familiar with the kinds of problems that foreign residents might face, including spousal abuse. You might also want to go to the police and ask them for help. They might be able to get you connected with the international association, with an organization that helps abused spouses, or with your embassy, since you don’t have your own phone, anymore.
It sounds like you are in a dangerous situation, and I recommend that you get out of there as soon as you can. You do have the same right to be treated fairly under the law like anyone else in Japan!
– Travis from TranSenz
I want to download the files from the list but everything is error 404.. please help
Thank you for pointing that out.
The Immigration Services Agency has been reorganized and updated their website since I first wrote this article. They have actually improved some of their English explanations, so I am going to have to revise this post to update it in the future, but in the meantime, I have updated all of the links, so they should work for you now!
– Travis from TranSenz
I bought the kindle version of your fantastic guide. My wife (Japanese) And I are returning from UK without significant savings (my wife has only recently put circa 1 million yen into her japanese bank/savings account and no job in japan) and so we will need to rely on her mother as main financial guarantor for spouse visa. Her mother isn’t and hasn’t been in work for some time, but has savings – how much in saving would she need to be sufficient to meet the financial requirement?
Thank you for your kind words!
There is no official minimum figure, but as a general rule of thumb, the Immigration Bureau wants to see that you will have access to 80,000 – 120,000 yen per month in financial support. That would be for you, as the applicant, not including the support for your wife.
So, they are going to want to see that she has enough savings to provide you with that amount of monthly support for at least one year, in general. If you take the middle amount, that would be about 1,200,000 yen spare that she could use to support you after her own expenses are taken care of.
With only savings for support, based on my experience, it is likely that you will only get a one-year period of stay at first, but if you and/or your wife find work during that time, then when you apply for your renewal, you can use your own funding and get a longer stay.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you. Just to make sure i understood correctly, they need to see that my wife’s mother has 1.2 million yen in savings for me but also a further 1.2 million for herself – so 2.4 million yen approximately?
And i don’t need to include a further 1.2 million yen for my wife, you are saying?
They’re not looking at a complete picture of your mother-in-law’s financial situation, so they’re not going to be checking how much money she needs for herself or to help support your wife. (You also don’t have to submit all of her financial records, so they wouldn’t get a complete picture anyway). There just has to be enough to show that she can support you and that it won’t completely drain her resources to do so.
I know that’s not very precise but, ideally, yes, over 2.4 million in savings would be a good minimum to consider.
(Of course, it’s completely reasonable to assume that part of her financial support to you would be “in kind”, such as providing a place for you to stay so that you don’t have to pay rent costs elsewhere, etc., so it shouldn’t be an actual 1.2 million yen burden on her!)
– Travis from TranSenz
Hi again Travis, one more question. We still haven’t registered our overseas marriage, what documents does my wife need to register it in the city hall in Japan? Would I need to be there too when she does? I presume before we can apply for CoE she will need to do this first, though registering the marriage should be quick hopefully?
If you were married under foreign law, then my understanding is that you need to submit your marriage certificate and a Japanese translation to either the Japanese mission overseas or the Japanese spouse’s hometown city hall within 3 months of the marriage. Hopefully, once you submit it the process should not take too long, but you will need to complete that process (so that you are listed on your wife’s Koseki) before you apply for the CoE.
It is possible to submit the documents by mail and there should be no requirement for you to be there in person.
– Travis from TranSenz
Hi, my girlfriend and I are getting married this December in Fukuoka. Where can we go to apply for my COE so that I can apply for a spouse visa? (we plan to live together in Fukuoka as well, but we have no idea where to go to process the spouse visa and COE)
For the Certificate of Eligibility, you should apply at the regional Immigration Services Agency office or a branch office that has jurisdiction over the area where the Japanese spouse has registered their residence.
Here’s a link for all of the offices that cover prefectures in Kyushu, so you can find the office location here.
I recommend that you call, first, to make sure they will be able to accept your application, so that you do not waste a trip.
For the visa, in general, you are expected to apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. However, if you apply for a Certificate of Eligibility and it is issued before your period of stay in Japan expires, then sometimes it is possible to take the CoE and apply for a Change of Status of Residence at the same Immigration Services Agency office.
– Travis from TranSenz
Hi Travis – thanks for your last reply. I picked up my spouse visa yesterday. It is a 3 year spouse visa.
I have one question for you: Are you required to show an original koseki tohon at the airport to enter on a spouse visa?
Hi Barry Codos,
I’m glad to hear you were able to get the visa!
No, you do not need to show the original Koseki Tohon at the airport. All you should need is your passport with the visa and your Certificate of Eligibility.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thanks for your reply Travis. Remember I applied for the visa without the CoE. So we never got the CoE.
Right, sorry about that. In your case, then, just the visa should be sufficient, unless the embassy told you otherwise.
– Travis from TranSenz
After reading a bunch of comments in this page I would like to leave my story.
My wife is Japanese, we have been married for a few years and we have a child. We have been living abroad together for a few years. Recently my father- in- law fell ill and we decided going back to Japan was the best thing for us.
We enquired at our local Japanese consulate about our situation and they advised that we could seek special permission to apply for a spouse visa without a CoE. We sent in a doctor’s letter regarding my father-in-law and waited a few days. We then received an email saying we had been granted special permission to apply for the spouse visa without a COE.
We received a list of documents we needed to provide. Among the list was the following
1) My last year’s tax statement (Non- Japanese as we live abroad).
2) A letter from my current employer stating my salary details etc.
3)Plus proof of savings from either me or my wife. We decided to use my wife’s savings in Japan – let’s say 1.5 million yen.
And we had the usual documentation such as a family member in Japan as guarantor showing their income, koseki tohon, visa application, my ID, my wife’s ID etc. I even included an email from a company in Japan that had an interview with last month saying they would offer me a full time position starting in April next year.
All in all I was treated extremely kindly by the staff at our local consulate and understand the need to show some kind of savings. The staff at the consulate even said to me there is no magic figure for savings. When I quoted how much my wife had…. They said more than enough.
I even wonder what weight a letter from my current employer in my home country has on the application. But they requested it with my application.
I was advised my visa would take 5 days to process.
Have a good evening.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear about your father-in-law.
It’s pretty impressive that the consulate was so considerate in your situation! I’m glad they were able to help you expedite the process.
– Travis from TranSenz
hi Travis it’s me again kiko. I was the one who asked you 2 weeks ago, about the COE application form number 25,26 27 and everything is okay now, i followed your advice. thank you so much. today i received a letter from the immigration, I thought it was the COE already but they asked me for a certificate from my country, that will take 6 months to get, it’s a marriage certificate. actually Last month i went to my embassy here in Japan to report our marriage that happened last May 2022.and they gave me some dcouments that I can pass to the immigration while my country is process our marrige ceritificate. So I was surprised today why, suddenly the immigration asked me to send the original copy of our marriage certificate which I already explained to them in a letter togethere witht the application form. Actually, all of the people from my country who got married here in Japan submitted the embassy document to the immigration for the COE and all of them didn’t have any problem, so I was really surprised why the immigration here in Tokyo is a bit strict.. but I have some good news, I applied for some Eikaiwa company and they scheduled me for interviews. before I was worrying about that cuz the immigration told me to show some paper about getting a job contract here, but now they only want THE marriage certificate from my country that actually would take some months for my government to process because I only got married a couple of months ago. What do you think should I do? should I try to explain it to the immigration again, maybe they didn’t understand my last letter explaining that it will take around 6 months for my government to process my marriage certificate.
I’m sorry, but I can’t remember if you mentioned your nationality in your previous comment. Based on your comment, I guess you might be from the Philippines, because I have heard of similar situations from applicants from the Philippines in the past.
Like you said, though, in every case I am aware of, Immigration has been willing to accept the document issued by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate in Japan saying that they have accepted your application to register your marriage and that they are processing it. If you had submitted that document to Immigration, it should have been good enough. Maybe they are asking you for the original because about 5 months have passed since you were married and they assumed that if you had reported your marriage to your government right away, you should have the official marriage certificate around now.
Or maybe the person processing your application simply wasn’t experienced enough to know what to do. It wouldn’t be the first time I know of Immigration making mistakes in the processing!
I recommend that you go to the Immigration Office where you applied in person, preferably with your spouse, to explain the situation. If you already provided them the document from the embassy saying that you had reported the marriage, then bring a copy of it, if you have one, as it will be a useful visual aid. But even if you don’t have a copy, you can still explain the situation that you filed the report to your embassy a month ago and it will take about 5 more months for your government to be able to issue the official certificate, but that the document you provided should be official proof that you have registered your marriage with your government.
I hope that works out for you!
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you so much for your advice Traviz, now I have an Idea on what to do because of your advice. Yes, you are correct , I am from the Philippines. you are a smart person. Again thank you. I will do what you advice me to.
Hello Traviz, it’s me again. Thank you so much for your advice last time it was really helpful, you were right, the Immigration staff who processed my documents wasnt that experinced , i told it to my spouse and after that I called my country’s embassy and told them that the immigration is asking for the piece of paper that hasn’t be processed yet, I was surprised when they told me that they will try to call the immigration, after a few hours they emailed me that they already called the embassy and that the immigration will call my spouse, but that time my spouse was in an important meeting at her work, so she couldn’t answer the call, so they called her father, but my father in law is very old and have a slight dementia so he couldn’t remember what the immigration told him. so the following day I visited the immigration and explained what happened, that we didn’t know what the staff told my father in law. i stayed there for less than 30 minutes. and they informed me that I don’t need to submit the document that they required me from my government, I was really thankful for your advice cuz that time, i Really didn’t know what to do.
now, Im just waiting for the COE to be delivered. but my visa will expire next month, I heard that the temporary visting visa can still be extended if there is a valid reason, my spouse will have her birthday in December and We would like to spend it together, it will be our 4th year as a couple and we haven’ spent her birthday together because of the pandemic. do you think that would be a valid reason for my visa to be extended. Again , thank you for always taking time to reading my messages and giving mearning and useful advices,.
hello Traviz it’s me again, sorry just now I just found out the immigration sent a letter to me last wednesday but I Was’t home to receive it, it might be the COE? if it would be the COE , I would like to ask your advice on how to process the spouse visa here? maybe technically, i have to go home to process it in the Japanese embassy in my country.
and my spouse is asking, what is Proof of your sponsor’s annual income? actually she didn’t pay the tax last year, but now she has a job and before we submitted her work contract that indicates her monthly salary. so maybe one of the requirements # Proof of your sponsor’s annual income and tax payments# is the the tax certificate? actually, she didn’t pay her taxes, but during the COE submission of requirments we already mentioned it, so we submitted her bank statement and her employment certificate that indicate her salary.
and during the COE we submitted the questionare with our photos together and text messages, and answered the 8 page questionare, maybe we have to do the same process again?
sorry if I have too many questions.
(If your sponsor is a Japanese national: Copies of your sponsor’s passport and Residence Card) what is the residence card for my spouse , is it like the social security number? i am not sure of they have a residence card like the foreigners have.
and do we need to get the kosekhi tohon?
thank you so much for your time, it really means a lot to us. and Happy halloween Traviz,
im really sorry it’s me again. i just talked to my spouse now and we were looking at all the requirements for the spouse visa, she feels a bit stress cuz we already submitted almost all of it before , when we were processing the COE,actually we processed it for months, so she feels it will take time again to get the same documents, do u think it’s okay if we ask the immigration,to only submit the requirements we haven’t submitted before. only number 1 (COE) is the only documents we have submitted yet.
1.The Certificate of Eligibility
2.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
3.,Your valid passport along with photocopies of it
Passport-size pictures with the following specifications:
4.A Letter of Guarantee or Sponsorship from your sponsor
Proof of family relationship between you and your sponsor (Marriage or Birth Certificate)
5.Proof of your sponsor’s profession in Japan
6.Proof of your sponsor’s annual income and tax payments
7.If your sponsor is a Japanese national: Copies of your sponsor’s passport and Residence Card
I am really sorry, today I sent so many questions. I hope you won’t feel stress and upset, about them. thank you so much TRAVIZ.
The visa application procedures are more strict in some countries than others, in terms of what additional documents they require, so I think that’s why you’re seeing a much longer list than what I am used to.
Since in your case, you’ll be applying for a Change of Status of Residence from within Japan using your CoE (at least, I hope that Immigration lets you!) I think it’s worth asking them if the requirements are different in your case. Otherwise, I think you’d have to get a copy of your spouse’s koseki tohon and that certificate of employment with her salary again. Everything else should be relatively easy.
I think item 7 was a typo on whatever site you were looking at. You should only need to submit your spouse’ passport and residence card if they are NOT a Japanese citizen. (Japanese citizens don’t have residence cards and wouldn’t necessarily be required to have a passport to marry a foreign national). For a Japanese citizen, the koseki tohon (which also doubles as your proof of marriage) should suffice for any ID needed.
– Travis from TranSenz
If you get your CoE issued before you leave Japan, you should be able to take it to the Immigration Bureau and apply for a “Change of Status of Residence” (NOT a visa). If you ask them if you can apply for a spouse visa, they will tell you that it’s not possible (a “visa” in Japan is just permission to enter the country, not permission to stay. The “Status of Residence” is your permission to live in Japan).
If your spouse does not have tax records from last year, then she should be able to submit a Certificate of Employment that also includes her salary. That will count as her proof of employment/proof of profession, too. To be safe, she should also include a brief letter saying that she did not pay income tax last year (otherwise they will probably ask you for the income tax records).
You should not need to resubmit the questionnaire and photos again. Since you are applying for a Change of Status of Residence within Japan, having the CoE in hand, I recommend that you contact Immigration and ask what you should submit in your case, because it could be a special situation.
I think the requirement for your spouse’s passport and residence card should only be if your spouse is NOT a Japanese national. There are no residence cards for Japanese citizens.
– Travis from TranSenz
I’m glad to hear that they were able to process your application without the certificate from your government!
Hopefully you will get the CoE soon. Unfortunately, I do not think celebrating your spouse’s birthday together would be considered an acceptable reason to extend your tourist visa, but if you can get the CoE before then and if they allow you to apply for a Change of Status of Residence using the CoE without leaving Japan, then they should allow you to stay while they are processing that.
– Travis from TranSenz
really really thank you Traviz, you are the best. Thank you for helping foreigners like me,about visa and COE questions. Have a nice day! Cheers.
hello again Traviz ,
I forgot to mention to you about how I filled up the COE application form that time, i didn’t know how to answer number 25 and 26 the supporter and gurrantor questions, i think we were supposed to fill up only one, but we filled up both , My spouse is the one I wrote as my supporter and gurrantor for both number 25 and 26
.and then at number 24 the amount of how much the gurrantor would give i only wrote 30,000 yen. which now i think is too small, maybe I should have written around 50,ooo yen or more.
so the immigration sent a letter yesterday and told me to submit my bank stament , which is right now i can’t do because I have to go back to my country and ask my bank to make one for me. but the immigration letter stated if i can’t do it, i have to state the reason, also they mentioned if i have a certificate of employment i should submit it also but they said it’s optional.
is it okay if i tell them i can submit those documents when i apply for the visa? which is i guess i have to go hback to my country and make it.
please advice me on what to write regarding why i can’t sumit the documents that they are asking right now. thank you so much Traviz,
It sounds like you might be using an old version of the application form, based on the question numbering. In the current version, you enter the amount of support in 25, the supporter in 26, and the guarantor in 27. But if they accepted the form, I guess that’s not a problem.
Let me go in order of the questions here.
Your total amount of support from all sources (self, supporter, guarantor, etc.) should add up to at least 80,000 yen per month, preferably higher (80,000 – 120,000 is usually the target range). So, if you only listed 30,000 support from your spouse, they will assume that you are supplying the remaining amount on your own. I think that is why they are asking for your back accounts and employment records, to show that you will be able to support yourself.
Unfortunately, you cannot submit those documents with the visa application, it has to be with the CoE. They are completely separate processes and administered by different arms of the Japanese government. (Immigration and Foreign Affairs, respectively). If you can’t get a balance certificate from your home country bank from Japan, they might accept a printout of your account status if your bank offers internet banking, or even a balance statement from an ATM, if that is possible.
However, if you were to rely entirely on your spouse for income – if you change their contribution to 80,000 yen or more per month – then Immigration might no longer need your personal bank statements, so you can check with them about that possibility, too.
For the sponsor/guarantor difference, in general, you should put the information about your spouse in the guarantor section. However, if your plan after you move to Japan is for your spouse to be the sole breadwinner for the family (the only worker with an income), then it is also correct to fill out their information in the “supporter” question, (26 in the current form, but 25 in the numbering you mentioned). In that case, though, in the question about the amount of financial support, the contribution from your spouse must be over 80,000, since it is assumed that your spouse if providing all of your support.
– Travis from TranSenz
hello Travis, thank you so much for your reply. it really means a lot. yes you are right, I was using the old version, I didn’t noticed that at first. but now i plan to answer the application form again. is it right i shouldnt write on the the guarrantor question, just i will fill up the supporter which is number 26 on the updated form.
and on number 25 which one should I fill up since my wife would be the one supporting me, supporter in Japan ? and I will raise the amount from 30,000 yen to 80,000 yen. but i have to ask the immigration first if it’s okay?
and leave number 27 blank or should i right N.A. (not applicable)
sorry, I have so many questions, before when i filled that up, it took a long time cuz I didn’t know whom to ask on how to fill up that application form and the youtubers who answered that form had different answers so i got confused more.
Really thankful for your time in answering my question. we (foreigners in Japan) are lucky that there is someone like you, who takes time to answer our visa and immigration questions.
again thank you!
sorry Travis , one more question, the immigration said I should submit a form about my future plan of employment, it was written in japanese but my wife translated it for me and she said, that if i get hired by a company in Japan, i should submit a ceritificate of when i will be hired and how much is the salary, last week, i received an email from a company that they want to interview me for an ALT job but they already forwarded me the company rules and also what I should do for the teaching demo,, but I haven’t had the interview yet, do u think it’s okay if I submit that to the immigration? thank you again Traviz,
It sounds like Immigration is only interested in a certificate that says that you have been offered a job, including the salary. An interview offer is not going to be the same thing, so at this point it doesn’t help to submit that, but if you make it further in the application process and get a formal job offer, you can always submit it then.
In the meantime, since we discussed separately that you are going to indicate that all of your support is coming from your wife, the certificate of job offer should be less critical to your application.
– Travis from TranSenz
Since you’re planning to resubmit the newer version of the form, that would be a good time to replace the amount of support from your wife. If you can explain something like you didn’t realize that the question included all forms of support, such as her providing your housing, paying the bills, buying food, etc., they should accept it.
For Numbers 26 and 27, you should fill in both with your wife’s information. You still need someone to officially be your guarantor (there is a letter she has to submit), which means that she will take responsibility for helping you to adjust to life in Japanese society, ensure that you follow the laws, etc. Going back to question 25, you should fill in the amount of support from your wife under the guarantor line of that question.
I’m happy to help! I had challenges with this form myself when I filled it in, so I wanted to make the process easier for everyone. Maybe I should put up some instructional videos on YouTube, though 🙂
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you so much for replying, I really appreaciate it. I am going to follow all your advices. you are a life saver for foreigners living in japan. oh youtube video, wow. that would be great. again Thank you Travis. have a great day.. GOD BLESS!
hi ther,e i have visited your website a couple of times already and your advices are really good.
I would like to ask if i could change my status of residence , i am on a tourist visa and we tried to apply for a COE and the immigration replied and asked for more documents like my bank account and work certificate in my country, my spouse is my gurantor here in Japan when i applied for the temporary spouse visa in my country and now im almost in my second month here in japan and it feels like the COE application will take longer , so im planning to change status of residences cuz i saw a youtuber from Philippines who keeps on saying that she was able to change her visa from toursist visa to spouse visa by using the change of status or residence. but i think that happened before the pandemic so maybe things were less strict. and i saw also another you tuber who said she came here on a tourist visa , got married in japan and then applied for the coe and finally got the spouse visa in a span of two months only, im in tokyo now so i think the immigration is a bit strict here compared to the countryside area. plz advice me on what to do, if it:s really possible to change status with a toursit visa.thank you. more power.
Thank you for your kind words!
In general, it is not possible to change your status from tourist to spouse while in Japan unless the immigration bureau decides there are special circumstances. In general, “special circumstances” means that there was a reason that you could not apply for a CoE and spouse visa before coming to Japan in the first place.
One “special circumstance” that is usually approved is the situation you described with the second youtuber: If you had to travel to Japan to get married in the first place. Another situation that I have consistently seen approved is if you apply for a CoE while in Japan and it gets issued before the end of your tourist period of stay, then you can take the CoE to the Immigration Bureau to apply for a Change of Status of Residence without having to leave the country.
Even if those circumstances do not apply in your case, you can still try to apply for a Change of Status of Residence, but there is no guarantee that the Immigration Bureau would accept your application. And even if they did, if the application wasn’t approved before the time your tourist period of stay ends, then you would have to leave Japan anyway. Since the application for the Change of Status of Residence (without having a CoE already) requires all of the same documents and materials as applying for the CoE and generally takes just as long to process, I think you would be better off completing your CoE application. If it gets issued while you are still in Japan, then you could change your status of residence, but even if it does not, at least you wouldn’t lose all of your hard work on the application.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a really busy time of year for Immigration, and that’s going to be especially true in Tokyo, so you can expect processing to be slower and for the Immigration offices to have less time to consider exceptions to the usual rules. Since last week was the start of the fall semester at most Japanese universities, they have been applying for CoEs for their students. I heard from a colleague at one university that the CoE applications for their students are backed up and Immigration can’t say when they will be issued, so I assume everyone else’s applications are behind, too.
I suspect that offices downsized a little during the pandemic, when there were fewer applications, and that all of the staff is out of practice since they weren’t handling many applications for two years, so that is probably contributing to everything being slower than normal, too.
I’m sorry I don’t have any good news to offer, but I really do think the continuing the CoE application is the safest bet for now.
– Travis from TranSenz
thank you so much Travis, I really appreciate your reply, it was complete and very informative. i am going to follow your advice and continue with my COE application. thanks again traviz.
Hello travis, before anything else, I want to thank you for being patient with me and answering all my questions and worries… I’m really really really grateful for all the advices you gave. I was able to get this far because of your wise advices and really useful information. Before I used to watch some you tubers to get some information but sometimes they don’t have all the information, but you always have the answer to all my questions so I am really thankful there is someone like you.. Today I went to the immigration by myself, I was thankful the staff could speak some English, and he gave me some papers one of which is written in Japanese but he said I have to explain why I want to get my spouse visa in Japan. It’s a one whole page of paper. I want to write there because we love each other and we don’t want to be apart anymore because we couldn’t see each other for almost three years because both our country’s borders were closed due to the pandemic. Is the immigration looking for a specif reason? I’m almost at the finish line.. Really thank you Travis. You are a great person
I’m glad I have been able to help!
For the explanation document you submit to the embassy, it is fine to mention that you were separated for three years because of the pandemic and do not want to spend any more time apart, but I would also recommend highlighting practical issues, such as minimizing the infection risk by not making an unnecessary trip back to the Philippines.
I recommend including:
– You intended to come to live in Japan permanently with your wife as soon as the borders opened, but while you were applying for the CoE, you came to Japan on a temporary visa to be able to be with your wife.
– You applied for the Certificate of Eligibility and it was issued before your temporary visa expired. If you were to return to the Philippines now, all you would to would be apply for the Spouse Visa and return right away.
– If you are able to use the Certificate of Eligibility to apply for a Change of Status of Residence, it will avoid an unnecessary trip back to the Philippines, which would reduce the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and/or bringing the infection into Japan. It would also reduce the strain on both countries’ border control measures.
In my experience, this is not a heavily screened document. There is not a whole lot of space for individual decision-making in the Japanese bureaucracy, so they’re most likely just going to look at it from the perspective of “Did he submit a legitimate reason to apply from within Japan?” It should be approved with no problem.
I hope the rest of the process goes smoothly for you and that you are able to remain in Japan on a new spouse status!
– Travis from TranSenz
hello Travis, goood morning! thank you so much for the very great and useful advice on what I should write on the reason for the change of status or residence. I wrote down all that you have mentioned and I also followed the advice you gave me before, when i was applying for the COE, in the change for resident status application form, the Supporter and gurantor question is also mentioned, this time i wrote, 100,000 Yen as a support given to me by my spouse.because before i wrote only 30,000 yen in the COE application and suddenly I was asked for my bankstatement. thank you for giving me really useful advice and information. it really means a lot. I will update you on what will happen next. Again thank you Travis. have a great weekend!
Thank you for your reply and kind words. I look forward to hearing your results.
I hope the Change of Status of Residence application goes as well for you as the CoE did! In some rural offices, I have seen cases where people who applied for a Change of Status of Residence with a CoE were able to get the process completed on the same day, but in a busier office it might take a bit longer than that.
Hopefully you’ll hear good news soon!
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you so much for answering all my questions. I’m sure that your information was solid and it was just our confusing situation that left our application in a bit of a hard place. Hope you’re doing well and enjoying Japan, despite the sad news recently.
And thank you for removing my last name from the prior comment. Hate to bother you again but your reply to that same comment (“TranSenz 2022年4月13日”) also mentions my last name with “Hi Adam [last name]” at the beginning.
Thanks for pointing that out. On the back-end, it’s a lot harder to find my own comments, but having the date stamp helped. I’ve removed your last name from that comment.
I’m sure that your next application will go a lot smoother based on what you’ve learned from this time around!
– Travis from TranSenz
Hello again; I was wondering if having my savings in a TFSA (tax-free savings account) is just as valid as any other savings account? I can withdraw the money at any time I want, there is just a limit to how much I can deposit and have it be tax-free. So I am not sure why it would be unaccepted, but then again, they are super anal and strict… I am not sure if this is a thing outside Canada.
As far as I know, that should be fine. As long as the funds are based on cash (i.e. do not vary in value based on market fluctuations) and are liquid/accessible, that should meet the requirements.
– Travis from TranSenz
Sorry for the multiple replies, I know this is a headache. But my wife called them up.
She explained the bank statement thing and they apparently understood. But they want to see 3 months of iTalki payment statements, just like you said. The problem is, the payments from iTalki are not nearly big enough alone. I am actually a full-time, online (so I can continue it in Japan, since there’s no in-person component), final year undergrad student and do courses throughout the year spread out, so iTalki is part-time. I have student grants and loans from this year and last year that account for a lot of my savings and I have the new document from the student loan office showing how much I will be getting in September 2022 and January 2023 (I graduate in April 2023). These loans (which make up around half the money, with grants making up the other half) will not require repayment until starting November 2023, and there is only interest on half of those loans. The tuition for school is only $6,800 and the rest of the $23,000 per year in student aid (so about $16, 000 remaining) is for living expenses. If you add the iTalki money to that then I make enough to live without a fulltime job and maybe just barely cross their threshold for yearly earnings. Of course they may not count student aid, but if they don’t, I guess I am just destined to be rejected. I also didn’t originally mention I was a student in the application, only that I work as a iTalki teacher and private IT tutor (however, nothing contradicts the fact I’m a student).
It sucks because they were not interested in financial supporters; they only seemed to care about my own income right now. Even when we said we can get more supporters to bolster my application if the money isn’t enough, they just glossed over it.
Right now they put my application on hold until we send the iTalki documents as soon as possible. We are thinking of including them, despite the low amount, and money I am earning from eBay, and the student loan documents as well as my diplomas, TEFL teaching qualification (and explaining that with this it is quite easy to find a job in Japan) and details about my online degree and hoping they will accept me. There is nothing else we can do, I suppose?
It sounds like you have a pretty complicated financial situation, so it’s no wonder they’re struggling with it.
If I remember correctly, your wife was your guarantor, right? So, even if the two of you have external financial support, Immigration is probably going to want to see that you have the means to support yourselves once you get on your feet in Japan.
If you had listed that you were a full-time student in the application, then a certificate of your upcoming grants/loans might have been sufficient (although that would also raise questions about receiving financial aid while studying online from another country, since that isn’t something they’re likely to understand). However, since you only listed your part-time job and have what could be seen as a suspicious financial situation with money moving around a bit (I understand your explanation, but I can still see how it would look suspicious to a government official), I’m not sure what else you can do besides what you’ve done.
If the application isn’t successful this time, you can always try again after your fall loans/grants get deposited in your account, though I recommend you keep one account static to show a consistent balance during that time, or get a balance certificate (instead of a statement) as your proof of resources.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you. My wife is not my guarantor but her mother in law because we live abroad.
Actually over the weekend a family member told us they may have cancer (fingers crossed that they don’t). So we have decided to try and cancel this application instead of sending them a bunch more documents that they are requesting and stay in my country longer with this family member. This is more important and our chances of being approved now seem very low anyway, and the more we try to explain the more suspicious it may seem because of my “weird” financial situation currently. I am tired of it and wish we didn’t apply now. It is a bit ridiculous since we have been living comfortably together for almost 2 years and I lived in Japan completely alone for a year without any financial problems (working holiday). But that’s a rant.
A) Do you know if we should call them about our reason for canceling or if there is a special form? The most recent communication is they asked me to submit three months of iTalki statements over the phone so we do want to explain why we decided to just cancel instead.
B) What happens to our application if we cancel it? Do they keep it and use it against us in the future? We are worried because of their suspicions and we really just want to throw out the whole thing and forget about it until we are in a better and easier position (in terms of the visa and personal reasons).
C) Is there a cooling off period before we can apply again for a COE, change of status, or other visa? Although, we suspect we will probably not apply again until early 2023 anyway. And even then I might just apply for a working visa to avoid bothering my family for a while.
D) If we go to Japan in early 2023 and apply for a spouse visa directly (change of status of residence) does this cancelled coe look bad despite our personal reason? Do they look through the cancelled coe and criticize everything or hold it against us despite it being cancelled? They have us paranoid we did something wrong and we just want to wipe the slate clean for next time. It would be sad if an error, or what they perceive to be an error, on a voluntarily cancelled application would hurt future applications.
E) Next time we apply for a COE or visa, my wife would be the guarantor instead of her mother in law. She does not have Japanese tax documents obviously since she lives in Canada this year. I understand she can show an employment letter instead. But would they want or ask for her Canadian tax documents? We aren’t sure if we will have one or not for 2022 but has that ever been the case they want foreign tax documents for the prior year despite being in Japan at the time of application with a new job?
Again I am sorry for this. In my quest to move to Japan we didn’t consider our less than cookie cutter situation might ruin everything for us in the future because of strict rules. We are sad to have to cancel and for our personal problem but we at least don’t want the future applications or other types of applications to be ruined because of this messy application.
I am very sorry to hear about your family situation! I hope that your family member does not have cancer, but I certainly understand why you have more important things on your mind than moving to Japan at this point.
A. As far as I know, there is no form. You can call them and say that you are withdrawing the application for family reasons and will apply from scratch at a later time.
B. To be honest I’m not sure if they keep it if you voluntarily withdraw the application. I know they will not return your application documents, so they may retain it or they may dispose of it. Next time you apply, you will be required to list the number of times you have applied in the past and the number of times of “non-issuance”, so you would have to mention it then, but you can include an explanation that you voluntarily withdrew your application during screening for family reasons (or for personal reasons) and it should not be held against you in that case, since it would not count as a rejection.
C. No. You can apply again as soon as you are ready.
D. There is no guarantee that they would accept your application to change your status of residence from Temporary Visitor to Spouse while in Japan. In general, that is not allowed, but it can be permitted by the immigration office (at their discretion) in some cases. Usually, there has to be a reason why you could not apply for a CoE before traveling to Japan, such as both of you having to travel to Japan in order to get married. If they don’t allow you to apply for a Change of Status of Residence after arriving in Japan, you could apply for a CoE then and if it is issued before you have to leave Japan, then you could use the CoE to apply for a Change of Status of Residence (but if it is not issued in time, you would have to leave the country).
E. I have never heard of the Japanese government asking for tax records from another country. They ask for tax records in Japan because it is the most accurate reference of the person’s earning in the previous year, so if that is not available, as in your wife’s case, they would ask for proof of salary in Japan, instead, not proof of earnings in another country.
As I’m sure you’ve experienced throughout this process, the Japanese government isn’t very flexible in considering unique individual circumstances. It’s certainly a problem, but not one they seem to recognize, so in the meantime, for anyone with an unusual situation, you have to be the one to shoehorn your situation in a format that they can understand.
At least next time you apply, those student loans and grants should already be in your bank account, so that should look stronger in your financial paperwork!
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you so much. We are going to cancel and hope for the best in the future.
In the future, when/if we apply for a new CoE, can we essentially copy and paste the same information if nothing has changed? Obviously, the job/financial information would likely change, as would the guarantor, but our relationship details wouldn’t magically change. In your post, you stated: a “detailed explanation of your relationship up to the date of your marriage.” So it seems we do not have to chronicle anything after marriage, therefore there is nothing we could add they care about (aside from the fact we applied for a CoE, canceled it for personal reasons, and are applying again now that we are ready).
If we do copy/paste information, do we need to include an explanation that nothing that is copied was changed from our canceled application that has the same info on it? We wrote a TON of information for this first application, and we definitely don’t want to spend the same amount of hours on a new application for no reason.
[P.S. In a prior comment I had left (in April 2022 I believe), I think I input my full name in the ‘Name’ field by mistake. I know it’s annoying but could you either delete that comment or change the name to just ‘Adam’? Whichever is better/easier for you. And since I have taken so much of your time I plan to support you on Patreon when I can. I will remember to do that.]
Yes, in the future, you would be able to copy/paste most of the information, excluding the bits you mentioned that would change. You would not need to explain that it was copied from the previous application.
The “detailed explanation of your relationship up to the date of your marriage” is part of the Questionnaire. There is no question in that form asking about the state of your relationship after your marriage. The only post-marriage question it asks is about your travels to Japan. You would not need to explain there that you applied, then cancelled your application for a CoE. I would recommend submitting that explanation separately, though, since you are going to have to indicate the application form that you applied but the CoE was not issued.
I have removed your last name from the past comment!
Thank you also for considering supporting on Patreon!
– Travis from TranSenz
They sent my mother-in-law a letter requesting “預貯金残高証明” which I don’t know if this means a bank statement or a bank letter that states my current balance. The reason is I said I’d pay 85,400 yen per month. If it is a bank statement it does not specify which month or for how many months. I did include a printed partial bank statement in my original application but it was for April 1 – 22nd so I will try submitting the entire month of April this time.
They also asked me to provide an employment contract and where it states I am allowed to work that job in Japan. However, I am an iTalki teacher so there is no contract (but I know I am allowed to work anywhere in the world, that is a known fact about iTalki). Again I need an explanation for this?
I just got this letter today but they want these documents by July 4th or they will likely reject me. I asked the bank for proof of funds but the problem is it would take too long beyond the deadline. If they need this bank certificate and not a bank statement, which I don’t know, I will need to tell them to wait….
Should I include a bank statement from one of the past couple of months and include an explanation?
In Japan, banks issue a certified balance statement. But in most cases, I have always seen them accept a bank statement printed from your internet bank, etc. I’m not sure why they would request anything stricter in your case. The only thing I can think of is that they might have considered your bank statement too old. An April statement in June/July could look suspiciously old.
If you can get an up-to-date bank statement, even a print-off from internet banking, etc., that shows your balance now, I think they would accept that. But if the only statements that you can get are out of date, then you might need to go to the bank to get a letter stating your current balance.
However, if there is no contract, then it sounds like your employment pattern is more free-lancer using their platform to find clients. I assume then that your income depends on how many clients you find and work with each month and is not fixed. (Actually, that might be another factor contributing to the bank statement request. If your income is not fixed, but you are depending on it to support your life in Japan, they would probably want to see 3-6 months of income statements or bank statements showing income.)
All I can do now is to speculate on why they are asking for these documents. If your mother-in-law can call and ask them why they are necessary (she should be clear that the reason for her question is to help you prepare the correct documents, since the names are different overseas), that might help. She or you can also call and ask them about getting extra time since you have to prepare the documents from overseas, but they might not be so understanding. In Japan, you would be able to visit your bank and get a statement the same day, so they might not understand why it would take time.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you. I ended up submitting a bank statement from April and one from May from another bank since that’s what I have to work with. I also explained that if the proof is insufficient my mother can up the money she provides from 25,000 yen to 80,000 yen per month and state that her bank statements were already provided in the original application. I also said if this is still not enough proof I can get a relative to be an extra financial supporter and to contact us if they need more documents or documents from my relative (uncle).
I think I know the issue, but I figured this out after my mother in law already submitted these new documents. My bank statements are savings accounts that I usually don’t use since my money is in many different locations and is constantly moved around because my banks always offer different interest rate promotions. So I transferred all my money gradually into one savings account for the purpose of showing them all the money I have in one spot. So the balance is $0 at the beginning of the month and 3 million yen at the end of the month. Which may look suspicious to them. But for me it’s normal to have my money spread out in many different locations, including investment accounts and things that the COE people don’t accept.
And again my money is spread out currently snce I moved it after the application submission for GICs and other better interest offers. I didnt think about it.
We are going to call, but do you think I should explain this and the documents they’re going to get in the mail, or should I ask them if I can get my uncle to be an additional supporter instead if it means I won’t be rejected for financial reasons?
Before I could reply to this comment, you had posted a follow-up, so I wrote back to that one, instead.
– Travis from TranSenz