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Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/20 23:00
Hello, I am a US citizen currently in Japan. I'm staying with my Japanese wife. We just got married last week. I am currently on a tourist visa, so I am worried that I might not be able to change my visa to a spouse visa? We stopped by the Immigration office and the inspector asked what my current visa was and handed me a Certificate of Eligibility form? I know that they would prefer that I return the US and apply there but that will cost too much and I don't want to have to do that. Would it be possible for me to apply for a change of visa status instead of the COE at the immigration office?
by blondesurferboy  

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/21 00:15
It can be done. When you apply, even if your status is set to expire, they should give you an extension on it. There is no guarantee you will have an answer within that period, however, and so you may have to make emergency travel plans anyway. Also note that many documents are needed, including pictures to prove your relationship, and status may or may not be approved.

But I think it is best to try. Have your wife fill out the forms and check the website for all necessary documents. Go into immigration and instead of asking what to do, state what you are there for (to apply for a change of status from tourist to spouse). They will hopefully not pressure you to do the COE instead, but if they do, just stay firm and insist.

Good luck!
by scarreddragon rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/21 11:34
I actually spoke with a Japanese immigration lawyer and he said that if I ask to apply for a change of visa status form, they will ask me for the reason why I don't want to return to my home country. The lawyer told me that if I say it costs too much, they will just say that isn't not a good enough reason? He told me that the only reasons they will accept are like if my wife is pregnant or if my sick parents are living here and need my help?
by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/21 23:31
Just go to the immigration bureau, tell them you want to apply for a change of status, not for a CoE, and see what they say. If they refuse, I think it would be pointless to insist, as you will just annoy them and the law is on their side.
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 00:20
I will just print out the Application for Change of Status of Residence from the US embassy Tokyo website. I will fill it out and bring all the forms, photos proving my marriage isn't fake, etc. with me to the immigration office. If they give me a hard time and keep saying I need to return to my home country, I can explain that I need to stay without being rude. My wife's mother is actually sick and me and her need to stay in Japan to help take care of her. My wife works part time and I help take care of her when she is at work. If and when I get a marriage visa, I plan to work full time, so that my wife can take care of her mother more. I also don't understand why immigration will give me such a hard time, when it even says on the MOFA and MOJ websites that applying for a change of visa status within Japan is possible?
by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 00:48
The immigration bureau website is the only authoritative source on immigration matters.

http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/index.html

In particular, since immigration is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and not of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), a MOFA-affiliated source should not be trusted for such matters, including embassies of Japan in foreign countries. (And even less so for embassies of foreign countries in Japan since they are not affiliated with the Japanese government at all.)

So, first, you should download the form from this page:

http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/kanri/shyorui/02.html

And if you scroll down a little, you see that even though applying for a change of status is always permitted in general, people whose current status is "Temporary Visitor" are a special case:

In addition ,if applicant has the status of residence "Temporary Visitor" the applicant must satisfy the requirements stated above and have unavoidable and exceptional circumstances. (Bolding mine.)

If you want the original legislative text which specifies this, it is Article 20, Paragraph 3 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition act, which states in part:

However, in the case of an application submitted by a person whose status of residence is "Temporary Visitor", permission shall not be granted unless the application is made based on special unavoidable circumstances.

http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=1934&vm=&re=02
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 09:07
In your case it should be possible to change your resident status on your marriage alone. The main factor would be the short time that you have been married and proving that it is a genuine marriage. You needing to support your family may help your case. Not being able to afford travelling back to the US is not a good reason and shouldn't be mentioned.

Basically, you should try and see what happens. There's not a lot you can do to influence the situation besides submitting a solid application.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 10:21
Why don't you apply a working visa by yourself ?
if you have a job, it should be easy.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 11:04
I hear most employers prefer that you obtain spouse status if you are eligible for it, as it means less work for them.

(Also, that will not solve his problem of having to go back to the US.)
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 11:17
I'm unable to apply for a work visa because I don't have a 4 year college degree.

I will turn in a really solid application to change my visa status, which will include a lot of photos with me and my wife, chat records between us, a story of how we met, etc. We will also explain the situation with her sick mother and I won't mention any money problems.

If I have to leave Japan no matter what, could I go to South Korea or Taiwan instead of all the way back to the US? There are Japanese embassies and consulates in those countries where I can show my COE right? My wife can just somehow get it to me or maybe I can print out a copy of it and return to Japan?
by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 11:25
If you apply for a change of status and are denied, then you apply for a COE. I believe the COE has to be exchanged for a visa in your country of residence rather than in a 3rd party country but I'm not positive. A COE can also be used to convert your status from within Japan, but this probably doesn't apply to your situation.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 11:34
I believe the COE has to be exchanged for a visa in your country of residence rather than in a 3rd party country but I'm not positive.

I think each embassy has its own policy regarding this. One would need to consult the embassy's website to see if they require a proof of residency in the country or not.

A COE can also be used to convert your status from within Japan, but this probably doesn't apply to your situation.

A CoE is not required for a change of status, and producing one anyway would probably have no effect.
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 12:28
A COE can also be used to convert your status from within Japan, but this probably doesn't apply to your situation.

Sorry, shouldn't have mentioned that as it doesn't likely apply and only seems to be confusing. But now that it's out there let me try to clear that up.

A CoE is not required for a change of status

No, it is not required for a change of status.

However according to immigration, should you already have a COE and are in Japan, then you should take it to them rather than travelling outside the country to redeem it.

and producing one anyway would probably have no effect.

I can't say definitely, but it probably does have an effect as it is validation of immigration's own vetting process and they request that you bring it should you have one.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 13:09
It seems like maybe the best option for me is to just first apply for the change of visa status and if that fails just apply for the COE from within Japan. I'm sure I won't get the COE before my tourist visa expires, so I will have to find a country other than my own that has a Japanese embassy that will allow me to show the future issued COE there? South Korea is close, but they are known for being really strict. I just won't understand if I need to return to the US to obtain a spouse visa, because I have literally never heard one story ever about someone needing to do this...maybe I will be the first?
by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 13:53
It seems like maybe the best option for me is to just first apply for the change of visa status and if that fails just apply for the COE from within Japan.

Yes, I agree.

I'm sure I won't get the COE before my tourist visa expires

Not likely as they can take several months to process

so I will have to find a country other than my own that has a Japanese embassy that will allow me to show the future issued COE there?

I wouldn't worry about this until you have to worry about it, it you know what I mean.

I just won't understand if I need to return to the US to obtain a spouse visa, because I have literally never heard one story ever about someone needing to do this...maybe I will be the first?

I don't think it's particularly rare. Or do you mean that you'd have to specifically go to your place of residence to change?
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 16:25
Yes, I mean having immigration tell me that I need to return to my home country specifically for the COE after I apply for it here in Japan. I haven't heard of a story where a foreigner was literally forced by immigration to return to their home country and not accept any other options. Although, I have read posts where immigration tells the foreigner they need to do this, but maybe they found another way or hired an immigration lawyer for help?

by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 16:31
It's probably not a common issue as a COE can take 3+ months to process, so typically it would make more sense for people to wait out a COE in their own country, rather than to do it in a 3rd country instead.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 16:57
I also have a Japanese friend that married a guy from the US and they didn't have to make a return to the US embassy in Tokyo for the US marriage certificate?

My friend told me that they just told immigration that they never plan to live in the US together in the future and just plan to stay in Japan forever. Then they were able to apply for the change of visa status without applying for the COE. My wife and I also plan to stay in Japan forever as well and we are hoping we might be able to do the same?



by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 17:41
It's impossible to comment without knowing more about their situation. But from what we know about yours is that you should have a chance, but it won't be a slam dunk change considering your circumstances.

and they didn't have to make a return to the US embassy in Tokyo for the US marriage certificate?

Don't get confused by the processes. Going the the US embassy in Tokyo is not one of the steps toward getting Japanese residency.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Changing visa status in Japan? 2015/3/22 17:57
The inspector we spoke with at the immigration office told us that I would need to return to the US embassy in Tokyo to show our marriage certificate to them before I can apply for the COE or spouse visa. Maybe he just assumed that we might try to live in the US in the future and that is why he said that?

We will just bring out a filled out Application for Change of Residence form along with proof that our marriage is real and see what they say...
by blondesurferboy rate this post as useful

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