How do you become a permanent resident of Japan?

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Permanent residency allows a foreign national to stay in Japan legally without having to worry about renewing a visa every year.  In addition, becoming a permanent resident also lets the foreign national work in any field, not just the industry specified on his or her visa. 

A foreign resident of Japan should apply to the Ministry of Justice to obtain permanent residence status.  The Minister of Justice has the discretion to approve this application upon a finding that the foreigner’s behavior and conduct is good, and the foreigner has sufficient assets or skills to make an independent living, among other things.  For spouses or children of Japanese nationals, the application is simpler and these requirements need not be met.

One of the main factors considered by the Ministry of Justice in whether to grant an applicant Japanese permanent residency is whether the foreigner has lived in Japan for 10 years.  However, this requirement does not apply in every case.  Applicants who have been married to a Japanese citizen for 3 years will automatically meet this requirement.  In addition, applicants who are recognized as a refugee, or have stayed in Japan for at least 5 years and made a contribution to Japan in a social, economic or culture way also meet this requirement.


If you have any questions about residence in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.