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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all :)

I met this cool Japanese girl in California. She was working at a small university and has been in USA for 10 years. We fell in love and got married in July (California).

She recently became pregnant thanks to my efforts :) So we have decided to move to Japan. She returned 30 days in advance to setup an apartment in Takamatsu, Kagawa.

I will arrive Japan on a walk-on tourist visa. My business is web development so I can work anywhere and thus do not need any special visa.

My goal is to obtain a Spouse Visa and eventually a Resident ID.

  • I have an official government copy of my Birth certificate.
  • I have a official copy of the USA Marriage certificate notarized by a government office.

Can anyone shed some light on the step-by-step process? Any advice?

Thanks!
 

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You really, really need to contact the Japanese consulate - Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco - to find out the RIGHT way to go about this.

First of all, your marriage should have been recorded with the consulate right after it happened. If not, that's definitely your first step.

Just because you work over the Internet, that doesn't mean that you aren't considered as "employed" in Japan. If you intend to reside over there, you need a visa on entry. If you go over there on a walk-in tourist visa, you will have to go back and start over again, which seems pretty wasteful.

Be sure to read the footnote at the bottom of the page - your wife should initiate the process for getting you a certificate of eligibility.

The process will be somewhat cumbersome and will probably take a couple of months - but that's much easier and much quicker than if you do it your way and run into problems.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow!

Thanks for your reply. Sincerely.

I will re-phone the SF Consulate.

First-off.... I leave to Japan on Aug 31 so no time for obtaining a business visa.

The scary part is I have gotten advice from the SF Consulate (went in person) and friends and I was told I could do a walk-on visa. I was told I would need the USA marriage certificate, my birth certificate and then my Japanese wife can deal with the paperwork. I was told it would take roughly 45 days which is time before my 90 on-entry visa expires.

I have several friends who work via the internet in Japan, China, Thailand without issue on tourist and business visa's. I earn my money in USA and deposit into USA based banks. I cant think of any possible way someone could say I am employed. Further I will obtain 100% of my income from USA. Not a single penny will be earned in Japan. And to make things even more interesting I work using a VPN private network to an American server, which means I am technically not working at all from Japan.

I have an office in China and visit fairly often. So I can just renew my walk-on visa as needed.

Does anyone have stories of coming to Japan on a walk-on visa and then getting married? Also if you were officially married in USA and then came to Japan to complete the paperwork.

Thanks!!!!
 

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OK, well if that's what the consulate told you to do, then go for it.

I went a similar route when coming to France, and wound up being illegal for nearly two years after marrying a French citizen. (Turns out the French consulate didn't know what to tell me, so they made something up. They were wrong.) Ultimately you'll get through it - but be prepared to have to improvise a bit during the process.

Make sure your wife is researching at her end to see what may be needed in terms of documents.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'm not a lawyer (and, I suspect, neither is anyone else on this list) but, from what I've read over the years, Japan considers any work you do while you're physically located in Japan to have been performed in Japan, regardless of where you're paid for that work. That means that any income you make as a result of work you perform after you relocate is subject to Japanese Income Tax. That may well depend, though, on whether or not you eventually remit the money into Japan -- tread lightly here and if you decide to continue the "I'm really working in the US" charade after you get your working visa, I'd suggest you contact a good attorney to make sure you understand the rules first.

As for visas... the matter is complicated by the fact that a "walk-on" visa also applies to business travelers working in Japan temporarily. So... my guess is that so long as you don't solicit new clients until *after* you have your Spousal Visa, you're probably fine. After all, if you came over for only a month or two and kept working during the visit, that would be the same as a business traveler coming over on a 90-day temp visa and continuing to perform his normal duties, no? In this case, if it's clear that you are qualified for a working visa, are taking steps to obtain same, and simply continuing your US-based work as a "business traveler" in the meantime, the Immigration guys aren't likely to make a big deal out of it -- especially if you're just following the advice you got from the Consulate.

As for changing your visa once you're here -- you can certainly go through the initial application process while you're here on your 90-day tourist/business (ie: "walk-on") visa. My first working visa was processed while I was in Japan on a 90-day visa and, since I was planning a trip back home to attend to last-minute affairs anyway, I took my CoE to the Consulate in LA to get the visa stamp. It used to be that you *had* to get the actual visa stamp itself *outside* of Japan (not necessarily going back home and "starting over" but simply taking a few days to visit Seoul or somewhere else outside of Japan). However, I've also heard of people more recently who have managed to change their visa status from "90-day temporary" to some other status *without* leaving the country and, if that's the case, it seems a Spousal Visa would be the most likely status change to fall into that relaxed category. If not, Seoul is only an hour away.

BTW, generally when you're renewing a visa or changing status, the Immigration office stamps your passport with an "application pending" stamp and your current visa isn't considered to expire until the pending application is either accepted or rejected. If you apply as soon as you're here, you should be fine. But be sure to ask when you file the application to make sure you don't run afoul of any obscure rules. Overstays are typically deported and banned from re-entering the country for up to 5 years.

The basic steps will involve at least three agencies. First, you'll have to go to a US Embassy or Consulate and get an "Affidavit for Competency to Marry". They know what this is because it's a pretty common form. It's kinda silly because the US doesn't keep central records of everyone's marital status like they do in Japan so all the Embassy will do is have you swear that you were not already married when you married your wife and they'll notarize the form for you. Be thankful you're not British where they require publication of a notice for a minimum time just in case you have another spouse somewhere that you (conveniently) don't happen to remember ;).

Once you have the affidavit, your US marriage certificate, and maybe some other stuff, you'll need to trot off to the ward/city office where you live (in Japan) and get yourself added as spouse to your wife's family register. You'll need a copy of that family register when you apply for the Spousal Visa. Once you have everything they need, this can be a one-visit step. Be sure to obtain an official copy of her modified family register before you leave the ward/city office.

After that, you should be fine but take some time up-front to visit an Immigration Bureau office in Japan. They have pre-printed lists of all the documentation you need for each type of visa -- and you'll need to get the application forms, anyway, so why not start that early. If you're close enough to Tokyo to visit the Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa, they usually have at least one person at the information desk that speaks reasonable English if you'd rather put this all on your wife :).

Good luck. If you have other questions, try googling "japan spousal visa". The MOFA maintains some visa in formation in English and there are a number of immigration attorneys who post visa-related Q&A pages (though I wouldn't consider using an immigration attorney unless you're doing something really complex or you have more money than you have time -- walking the forms through the process yourself isn't hard and it can be pretty instructional... if you bring a book to read while you're waiting in line :) ).

BTW, the MOFA website seems to be down right now so I wasn't able to verify the list of documentation for Spousal Visas -- you should be able to do that yourself.

Good luck...
 
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