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Will getting permanent residency get harder from 2012?
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Rooster_2006



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 984

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:48 pm    Post subject: Will getting permanent residency get harder from 2012? Reply with quote

Recently, Japanese immigration has undergone some changes that, on the surface, appear good. Starting in 2012, some English teachers may find themselves with five-year extensions instead of one- or three-year extensions when they go to the immigration office to renew. Here are two sources that confirm that this is going to happen:
http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2011/07/immigration-changes-coming-in-2012.html
http://www.japaninfoswap.com/blog/index.php?/archives/201-How-Will-Japans-New-Immigration-System-Affect-You.html

So that's good news, right? Fewer visits to the immigration office?

But wait...

Let me explain why I am a bit worried about five-year extensions being granted.

Currently, the permanent residency system in Japan works as follows (assuming the applicant is not a special case, like a spouse of a Japanese national, or a refugee) (I typed this verbatim from the book, published in 2010, 外国人をサポートするための生活マニュアル):
Quote:
- As a rule, the applicant should have stayed in Japan with a legal status of residence for more than ten years.
- In addition, there are some other conditions that have to be met, involving good behavior and the applicant being able to support him/herself, plus that the longest period (mostly three years) of stay defined for each type of status of residence has been granted. (...)


Take a look at the bolded part of the sentence -- "the longest period of stay defined for each type of status of residence has been granted."

So essentially, for those of you who thought you could live here for ten years, be on a three-year status of residence, and apply for PR -- guess what, another hoop has just been added for you to jump through. Now, being on a three-year period of stay will no longer suffice for applying for PR -- you'll need to pray/cross your fingers that immigration gives you a five-year extension, because otherwise you'll be ineligible to apply for PR. Or so it appears.

Thoughts?

Does this essentially mean that in 2012, permanent residency will become harder than before to acquire?
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thoughts, you say? There is nothing you or anyone can do about how immigration feels, as I just finished writing in your other thread about what it takes to get a 3-year extension.

How long have you been here? If it's 10 years or more, you will qualify.

As for that 5-year thing, if memory serves, that will be granted only to people who have proven a certain level of Japanese ability. (Of course, no details have been forthcoming on how that will be assessed, or what the level itself needs to be.)
http://www.accessj.com/2011/05/japanese-ability-to-be-linked-to-visa.html

Even now, some people get PR in 2-3 months, while others (if you can believe Internet forums), have had to wait over a year even though immigration tells them to wait only 6 months. As much as we'd all like to have clear-cut descriptions in hand, there simply aren't any. I wouldn't expect any either.
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:53 am    Post subject: Re: Will getting permanent residency get harder from 2012? Reply with quote

Rooster_2006 wrote:
Thoughts?


First thought is never read the translation and only read the original Japanese.

Quote:
Does this essentially mean that in 2012, permanent residency will become harder than before to acquire?


No. Smile

It just means the rules are changing slightly. It happens. PR is still a lot easier in Japan than most countries. Read the regs. Remember that most Jpns regulations start with "In principal" and that the officer you get has huge discretion.
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Rooster_2006



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 984

PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:26 am    Post subject: Re: Will getting permanent residency get harder from 2012? Reply with quote

G Cthulhu wrote:
Rooster_2006 wrote:
Thoughts?


First thought is never read the translation and only read the original Japanese.
Okay, here is the original Japanese, which says exactly the same thing:
- 原則として、正規の在留資格で引き続き10年以上日本に在留している者

その他、素行が善良であることや、生計要件を満たす必要があるほか、各在留資格の最長の期間(多くは3年)を許可されている必要があります。

G Cthulhu wrote:
Quote:
Does this essentially mean that in 2012, permanent residency will become harder than before to acquire?


No. Smile

It just means the rules are changing slightly. It happens. PR is still a lot easier in Japan than most countries. Read the regs. Remember that most Jpns regulations start with "In principal" and that the officer you get has huge discretion.
The PR regs aren't exactly some sort of closely-guarded secret. They're widely available both online and over the Internet. And the regs state that you must have reached the 各在留資格の最長の期間. And that will now be five years, not three years, and presumably it will be harder to get a five-year extension than a three-year extension. So please address the original post and explain how an extra hoop for PR has not just been added.

If you read the regs, you'll see that the "longest period of stay defined for each type of status of residence" ("各在留資格の最長の期間") is required to get PR. Well now, that "longest period of stay" is no longer three years -- it is five.

So that seems like an extra hoop to jump through that didn't exist prior to 2012. Whereas before, to meet the "各在留資格の最長の期間" prerequisite for PR, you only had to get a three-year extension (not very difficult, lots of people eventually get it), you now need the five-year extension as a prerequisite.

If you disagree, please explain why you don't see it as another hoop to jump through.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather than debate the meaning of the original here, I would suggest that several immigration office be contacted (because it's necessary; some are uninformed), and see what the consensus is from them.

I suspect they will either not know how to answer, or they will say both 3 and 5 years will suffice.
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Apsara



Joined: 20 Sep 2005
Posts: 2142
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As already mentioned, Immigration officers have a lot of discretion with interpreting the rules. To me it's hard to imagine that the day after they start granting 5-year periods of stay they will start turning down all PR applicants who are still on 3-year periods of stay and have never even had the opportunity to apply for a 5-year period of stay. The Japanese also says "多くは3年", so these regulations are still for the current situation and might be revised for when the 5-year period of stay becomes possible.

Possibly some time in the future they might start granting PR only to people who have already had 5-year visas, but I can't see it happening straight away, or for a while nobody on a working visa is going to be eligible for PR and I kind of doubt that's their intention.
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apsara wrote:
As already mentioned, Immigration officers have a lot of discretion with interpreting the rules. To me it's hard to imagine that the day after they start granting 5-year periods of stay they will start turning down all PR applicants who are still on 3-year periods of stay and have never even had the opportunity to apply for a 5-year period of stay. The Japanese also says "多くは3年", so these regulations are still for the current situation and might be revised for when the 5-year period of stay becomes possible.

Possibly some time in the future they might start granting PR only to people who have already had 5-year visas, but I can't see it happening straight away, or for a while nobody on a working visa is going to be eligible for PR and I kind of doubt that's their intention.


How on earth are you still so pragmatically-minded after more than six months in Japan? Wink Smile


Rooster, you have your answer. "In principal..." Smile and play nicely with the immigration officer. Don't go just before lunch. It's amazing what you can get done/away with in Japan if you play the game the way they want it played. Smile
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Rooster_2006



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 984

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I went into the immigration office and talked with the head of the branch for about 20 or 30 minutes in great depth about what the new immigration changes will mean, especially in regard to the availability of permanent residency (永住権)...

He told me that yes, possessing a five-year SOR (在留資格), WILL be required to get eijuuken (permanent residency) starting in July. Having a three-year SOR will no longer cut it. So if you've been living in Japan for 10 years, and you hold a three-year SOR, you'd better go to the immigration office and apply for permanent residency immediately, because in July, you'll no longer be eligible (from July onward, you'll need a five-year SOR to be eligible to apply, and no one knows how difficult those will be to obtain).

So yes, permanent residency by the 10-years-in-Japan route will get considerably harder starting in July. I confirmed it with the head of the Yokkaichi Immigration Office.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rooster_2006 wrote:
So if you've been living in Japan for 10 years, and you hold a three-year SOR...
Can we stop here just a moment? SOR = status of residence, right? If you have lived here for 10 years, you have that many years of SOR. How did you figure otherwise?

As for being able to apply after 3 or 5 years, that holds (usually) only for people married to Japanese. Keep that in mind. Plus, it's cumulative and (usually) consecutive time, not whether one has a 1-year spouse visa vs. a 3-year one.
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Rooster_2006



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Rooster_2006 wrote:
So if you've been living in Japan for 10 years, and you hold a three-year SOR...
Can we stop here just a moment? SOR = status of residence, right? If you have lived here for 10 years, you have that many years of SOR. How did you figure otherwise?

As for being able to apply after 3 or 5 years, that holds (usually) only for people married to Japanese. Keep that in mind. Plus, it's cumulative and (usually) consecutive time, not whether one has a 1-year spouse visa vs. a 3-year one.
No, I am afraid you have misunderstood.

I mean the period of stay. For example, I just went to the immigration office and renewed my SOR (I can't say "visa" because that's not technically correct) and got a one-year extension (one-year period of stay).

Some people are luckier than me and get three-year period of stay extensions.

However, for eijuuken (unless you're married or another special case, but I'm not talking about those), the requirements are:
- Live in Japan for ten continuous years, the most recent five of which must have been on a working SOR.
- Have a clean criminal record.
- Have the maximum-length period of stay for your Status of Residence (currently three years, but soon to be five years starting in July).

So...starting in July of this year, a three-year period of stay will no longer be the maximum-length period of stay. This will make eijuuken drastically harder to get.

So let me give a scenario where this would be relevant, as of July of this year:
Quote:
Johnny English Teacher lives in Japan. He loves Japan. He wants to get eijuuken.

Johnny arrived in Japan in 2002. He has been here for exactly ten years now. He thinks "Great! I will go to the immigration office and apply today."

He shows up at the immigration office and presents them with the form he has filled out, showing his ten years of continuous residence, his clean criminal record, his tax statements, etc.

However, the bureaucrat behind the counter frowns and looks at his gaijin card.

"You only have a three-year period of stay. Currently, the maximum possible period of stay is five years. Since you only have a three-year period of stay, you are not allowed to apply for eijuuken yet. In order to apply for eijuuken, you must first receive a five-year period of stay from the immigration office."

So Johnny waits a couple of years. He extends his SOR. He gets three years again. Three years later, he tries again. Once again, just a three-year extension. In other words, he is never eligible to apply for eijuuken, since eijuuken requires the maximum-length extension in one's SOR category. Sucks for Johnny English Teacher -- he might live in Japan for twenty or thirty years and never be eligible for eijuuken since the immigration office won't give him a five-year extension!

In other words, in this scenario, no matter how hard he tries to get eijuuken, if the immigration office is very, very stingy with the five-year extensions, Johnny English Teacher will NEVER be eligible to apply for eijuuken. He may live in Japan for 20 or 30 continuous years, have a good job and a master's degree/PhD and a clean criminal record, but without the requisite five-year period of stay for his SOR category, he will be forever ineligible to apply for eijuuken.

And THAT is why we should be worried about these five-year visas/SORs -- they are a Trojan horse that, at least in the current legal framework, will make eijuuken MUCH, MUCH harder to obtain (unless the five-year extensions are fairly easy to get, which I doubt).
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
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Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rooster_2006 wrote:

However, for eijuuken (unless you're married or another special case, but I'm not talking about those), the requirements are:
- Live in Japan for ten continuous years, the most recent five of which must have been on a working SOR.
- Have a clean criminal record.
- Have the maximum-length period of stay for your Status of Residence (currently three years, but soon to be five years starting in July).

So...starting in July of this year, a three-year period of stay will no longer be the maximum-length period of stay. This will make eijuuken drastically harder to get.


You appear to not understand what the word "drastic" means. As you bolded the text yourself, the only real change is the requirement going from "must have had the 3 year extension at some point" to "must have had the 5 year extension at some point."

Honestly, how is that a "drastic change" in the context of still needing ten years+ in Japan?!?
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Rooster_2006



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

G Cthulhu wrote:
Rooster_2006 wrote:

However, for eijuuken (unless you're married or another special case, but I'm not talking about those), the requirements are:
- Live in Japan for ten continuous years, the most recent five of which must have been on a working SOR.
- Have a clean criminal record.
- Have the maximum-length period of stay for your Status of Residence (currently three years, but soon to be five years starting in July).

So...starting in July of this year, a three-year period of stay will no longer be the maximum-length period of stay. This will make eijuuken drastically harder to get.


You appear to not understand what the word "drastic" means. As you bolded the text yourself, the only real change is the requirement going from "must have had the 3 year extension at some point" to "must have had the 5 year extension at some point."

Honestly, how is that a "drastic change" in the context of still needing ten years+ in Japan?!?
It's a drastic change because immigration will likely be very stingy about the five-year extensions.

No five-year extension = cannot apply for eijuuken

Therefore, all an immigration office has to do to ruin your chances of ever getting eijuuken is simply keep giving you three-year extensions instead of five-year extensions, every single time you renew. Since you'll never meet the longest period of stay requirement, you'll never be eligible to apply for PR. See how this could be a serious problem?

Now, right about now, I'll bet you guys are saying "Well, Rooster is assuming that immigration will be stingy with five-year extensions. That's an unfounded assumption."

But is it?

They're currently stingy with three-year extensions, even to people who speak Japanese and know thousands of kanji, so it's a reasonable assumption to make that the five-year extensions will be even harder to get.
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Inflames



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Immigration, at least in Osaka, tends to base the length of one's renewal off of income, employer, and length of time in Japan. I know of some people who came to Japan with 3 year visas.

The problem is that these things are just guidelines and YMMV. I know of one person who has been in Japan for 15 years and is married but got kicked back for PR. The reason? His wife didn't pay her city taxes one year. I know of a second person who got kicked back because he had a pair of speeding tickets 5 years earlier (this person was married with kids). I know of one person who never even filed taxes nor paid taxes on his bar but got PR. I had a former coworker get PR after 4 years in Japan - she was married for 3 of the years and had a kid but got divorced (she got PR after the divorce).

I highly doubt immigration will start enforcing this rule on the first day.
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Rooster_2006



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inflames wrote:
Immigration, at least in Osaka, tends to base the length of one's renewal off of income, employer, and length of time in Japan. I know of some people who came to Japan with 3 year visas.
Here in Yokkaichi (which is part of the Nagoya network of immigration offices), many JETs come on a three-year visa, but after living here for three years and going in for a renewal, they get kicked back to one-year renewals. I'm not sure about other places in Japan, but in Yokkaichi, even a three-year extension is a rare, precious thing. So I am doubting that five-year extensions will be widely available.

Quote:
I highly doubt immigration will start enforcing this rule on the first day.
They may not start enforcing it on the first day, but that is little consolation for those of us applying significantly after the first day when they do start enforcing it.
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rooster_2006 wrote:
It's a drastic change because immigration will likely be very stingy about the five-year extensions.

...

They're currently stingy with three-year extensions, even to people who speak Japanese and know thousands of kanji, so it's a reasonable assumption to make that the five-year extensions will be even harder to get.


And my experience is not the same as yours.

I've certainly read of people not getting the three year extensions, but in 7 years in Japan I never actually *met* anyone that never got one. More to the point, even if a particular office has a reputation for not giving the extensions all the applicant has to do is go to another office.

So we're basically at an anecdotal stand off.
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