Japanese Spouse VISA

For some foreigners, including myself, immigration into Japan is a stressful and time consuming affair. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time scouring the internet for information about obtaining a Spouse VISA. Finally I decided to give immigration a call directly and I got the info that I needed.

I should have simply called the immigration office before, but in 2004 I made the mistake of hiring a Tokyo based immigration attorney. I won’t mention his name but perhaps you’ve seen his advertisements in The Metropolis, Tokyo Notice Board, Gaijinpot and some other media targeting the gaijin.

I first met him at the JETRO office when I was using their services to get my import/export business started.

My wife and I had recently been married and our case was deemed ‘special’ because she is a Canadian born Japanese citizen. We paid big money to the attorney and within a month or two I got the 3-Year Spouse VISA.

Four years later, and after letting my VISA expire like an idiot, I sent the same attorney an email to inquire about using his services again. He replied immediately and expressed that he was happy that I remembered him. I asked him for a quotation and I asked if he had our paperwork on file from before.

he replied:

Are you asking me if I have the copies of the application of the last time?
If so, yes I have.

then he informed me that:

Your case is very special.

… and quoted me:

Total: 172,750 yen (This does not include the expense of postal charge and certificate issue expense like Koseki-tohon)

Considering the fact that I don’t think this is a special case at all, I thought this quote was rather high. My wife and I have been married for over 5 years and we have a kid on the way! I told the attorney that we couldn’t afford his services but I requested the records from 2005.

he replied:

I lost the data of your last visa application of visa because of computer trouble.
I don’t have the data anymore.

So let me get this straight, the availability of paperwork from a previous job is contingent on my hiring him the second time around? The documents that were just confirmed to be on file were mysteriously erased?

The thought that my personal documents are being held ransom by an attorney who comes recommended by an organization like JETRO is troubling. I thought that the he’d treat me, a returning customer, with much more respect. Instead, my records have suddenly disappeared and I’m without documentation of a VISA application process that was agreed to be kept on file with my lawyer.

I feel powerless in this situation and I am left only to vent here on my personal blog. I’ll proceed with the application without the help of an attorney and without the ‘luxury’ of being able to refer to my previous application documents for reference.

You can read the follow-up to this post here (coming soon) where I share my recent experience filing for my Spouse VISA.

I am not an advisor as you probably have already guessed, but maybe this info will come in handy. When I called Tokyo Immigration they directed me to the Zairyu Henko (#1 for Spouse VISA) for changing of the VISA status. I won’t get the process here but this link will get you headed in the right direction and towards the page that shows you exactly what you need.

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6 Responses to Japanese Spouse VISA

  1. Shibuya246 says:

    I have found the Tokyo Immigration Office at Shinagawa very helpful even in “special cases”. You have to queue up in a few lines but they are very keen to give you the right information. Much cheaper as well. You might as well go straight to the source rather than having an intermediary.

  2. Billy says:

    I agree. Straight t the source is better. I hate to bring negativity to this blog… but people should know what this guy did to me.

  3. Shibuya246 says:

    I tried an intermediary law office before and they charged Yen 100,000 (USD 1,000). I called them this time and they said before we talk we want to advise you our rate is Yen 10,000 (USD 100) per hour. I went to the immigration office direct and got the visa organized straight away.

    This is a good post for highlighting to people how they can avoid wasting their money. I hope people find it before they have trouble and not after.

  4. Eric says:

    This really helped me out. I was stressing over my change of status since I was married over a year ago and have a son, but due to some legal trouble last year this has been a huge source of stress for me.
    I called the immigration center straight away and got all the info I needed.

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