Monday, August 6, 2012

1st attempt at permanent residency in Japan denied

What a blow that was. After waiting 10 months for the verdict on my application for permanent residence in Japan, I received an ominous non-delivery notice from Tokyo Immigration at the weekend (ominous because when you apply for a visa or the eijyuken you fill in a simple postcard that usually just gets mailed to you once your application is successful, telling you to come and get it). Sure enough, when I had the brown envelope redelivered, there were a couple of sheets of photocopied paper inside, saying in Japanese and English that my application had been unsuccessful, and circling the reason. Nice that they let you know it wasn’t successful and that they give you feedback about why.

In my case, the reason for rejection was that I didn’t meet the requirement for living in Japan consecutively for over 10 years. I’ve been living in Japan for over 11 years now, but legally speaking, surrendering my visa at the end of the JET programme when I visited the UK for 2 months before returning to my life and plans in Japan, meant that the counter was set back to zero and so I’m still a couple of years away from 10 legally consecutive years. I had wondered and written about this in my post as I applied for permanent residency, but it's such a disappointment to have this confirmed as the verdict, and to have waited so long to find out. If you want to check for yourself from what date your own period of stay in Japan is calculated from, it's the "landing date" 上陸許可 jyourikukyouka written on your alien registration card (when these cards are shortly all replaced with the new resident card system I presume there will be something comparable written on those too. Update, November 2013: I now have a zairyu card to replace my alien card, and there is no "landing date" info. Only the date that you got your zairyu card. Information about your first 'landing' in Japan on your current visa must instead be stored on your file at immigration, rather than on the card now. This is a shame, as seeing the "landing date" on the old alien cards made everything much clearer regarding the length of your current stay).

The good news for me is that the other items on the reasons for denial sheet (photo below) don’t appear to have been problematic:
  • Show good conduct
  • Have adequate means to support myself
  • Be paying taxes, etc. For full details of requirements see my previous post

My options now seem to be to a) wait another couple of years and re-apply, b) try reapplying myself to see if another staff member or period of policy might shine a more favourable light on my case – anecdotally you do hear of people being accepted earlier than the stated 10-years, c) contact an immigration lawyer to see if there are any other options or whether reapplying with their help would increase my chances at this point (this lawyer lists fees of 126,000 - 157,500 JPY to help with PR, with you only paying half if unsuccessful, another promising laywer who also appears to help with business incorporation is here, no prices listed on the site).

While dashing about on the internet looking for solutions I also found something else potentially relevant, and very new and so I thought I’d share it here:
Since May 2012, Japan has started using a points-based system with the snappy title of ‘Points-based preferential immigration treatment for highly skilled foreign professionals’ (same info here, easier to navigate without all the cartoons). This is a way to make it easier for measurably 'desirable' types of people to live and stay in Japan in view of the declining population, particularly the number of people of tax-paying age. I’ve heard about similar systems being used for immigration into New Zealand and other countries.

There are 3 streams - academic research, advanced specialized professionals, and business management. The details are here (pdf), but it’s along the lines of a bachelor’s degree is 10 points, being under 35 is 10 points, level 1 Japanese proficiency is 10 points, having a promised salary of a certain level is worth a related number of points, with 70 points being the requirement for preferential treatment including only having to have 4 years and 6 months consecutive stay in Japan in order to be considered for permanent residency.

Reading between the lines, the points based system appears similar to the more losely defined ‘contributions to Japan’ element of the existing application process – where people with nobel prizes and ability to make impactful, positive contributions to Japanese economics or society would be granted permanent residency more easily. It’s not easy to reach the 70 points, but it’s possibly more attainable than a Nobel Prize. I’m currently wondering if based on my current professional experience in Japan, I might just be able to make the cut.

I guess that as Japan’s population problem advances over time (see points 2 and 6 on this page of the MOJ's site), the point system will need to be relaxed or additional systems implemented so that more willing tax-paying foreigners can successfully make long-term stable lives here without the need to be superhumans to be accepted.

So I’m currently looking into this new point system, and I’ve also contacted an immigration lawyer to see if their services might be meaningfully employed to help me try again. I’m certainly not giving up!


  1. Sorry to hear about the results of your PR application. I wonder if it is possible to make an appeal to them?

    I also applied for PR last August and I am waiting for the results.. Like you, I am not married to a Japanese. I came here last 2003/03 as a professional and has been continuously living here since then. Problem is I have not completed my full ten years (at the time of PR application).. Now I am a bit worried, they might deny me on that grounds. Although, by the time the results come out my length of stay can be counted as ten years..

    Keeping my fingers crossed. I have been waiting for 2 months now,,, and maybe 8 more months.

  2. Thanks MJ! It does say on the denial notice that you can appeal, but it appears to be a formal legal procedure rather than a simple request to reconsider.

    I would be surprised if you don't get it - 9 years and 7 months rounds up to 10 years! If they don't give it to you then it would mean they have to be absolutely strict about the 10 years in the case of no PR/JP spouse, and that they count it from the date of application. At least in that case you can apply again in March next year and be 99.9% guaranteed to get it. Everything crossed for you, good luck!

    1. Thank you! I will keep you posted,, maybe the results will come out early next year..

  3. Hi MJ,

    Any update on your PR application? I still have 6 moreMonths to 10 consecutive years. Been working at the same company for 6 years. I am wondering if I should wait for 6 months more or should I apply it now?

  4. I have applied for my permanent residency after the 10 consecutive years of living in Japan. It has already passed 2 months after I applied. Waiting for the result.

  5. Hi congrs, I got it

  6. Thank you very much on your advice on PR.After reading this site I applied again and it was approved after five month.Right now am in sky flying.
    Good luck everyone.

  7. Hi, great website. I'm using it to revise for my 2nd attempt at PR. I applied at 9 years 6 months of continuous living in Japan, married 2 years to my Japanese wife. Was declined with no reason.

    This time I have 10 years or living and working in Japan, a 2nd child with my Japanese wife. More married time, also now a home owner.

    Yubis crossed!

    1. Good luck Kie! Sounds like you have a great chance to get it.

    2. Thanks Stacey! After a 5 and a half month wait I got it today.

  8. Really hope your next application is successful for you! I agree, 9 years 7 months is virtually the full ten!

    Just wondering, can you run your business on your current visa with no problems? Asking this since I'm also about to start up a very small business and am gathering all my PR application paperwork now. I'm at the 10 year 5 month mark. If it's not granted, could I still proceed? My business is so small that I don't require staff.

    1. Yes I run my business with no problem, but as there are multiple factors and every case is different, I really recommend taking professional advice to know your status for sure. Good luck and all the best!