How to Renew Your Spouse Visa Painlessly

All foreigners living in Japan will have to go through this process eventually. For some, it could be just a walk in the park and for others, a total nightmare. My visa is due to expire this December. Once again, I have to visit the immigration office. I am writing this post as a reminder for myself when I have to re-do this again in 3 years. The process is pretty simple much like obtaining a Japanese drivers license if you have gone through it once. Of course, not all of us falls in the same criteria and certain documents and or forms must be filled out accordingly. At any rate, the process is pretty much the same for any applicants. To make your process as painless as possible and to limit your trips to the office, I have provided a guideline. At the minimum, you will require to make 2 trips. Read on.

Requirements/bring with you:

  • Spouse koseki-tohon
  • Your juminhyo
  • Spouse taxes
  • Alien card
  • Current photo
  • Current passport
  • 4,000¥ stamp

In my case, I am married to a Japanese national. The forms I needed can be downloaded at moj.go.jp. Scroll to the middle and download all the files associated with the extension ending in .pdf. Alternatively, you can download all the files at once using this link in the event moj.go.jp site is down or taken off-line. I highly recommend, you fill the form(s) at home prior to going to the office. Depending on the time and day, the experience could be like the DMV office back in the states for those who knows what I am referring too. Do not worry about the money stamp right now. DO NOT buy the stamps until your application is pre-approve. The post office will not refund your money if you make a mistake in choosing the wrong stamp or your application is not approve which is highly unlikely.

In addition to the forms, you will need to obtain your spouse's koseki-tohon (戸籍謄本) and your juminhyo (住民票). Also, depending on who supports you, you will also need to obtain your spouse's or your taxes from the previous year if you are self-employed. These forms are call nouzei-shoumeisho (納税証明書) and kazei-shoumeisho (課税証明書). All these documents are available at your local ward office, kuyakusho (区役所).

Lastly, you will need a current photo of yourself. The size requirement is 40 x 30mm; the same size as a Japanese resume photo. You can get your photo at an instant photo booth located in most major train stations. The fee for the photo is 700yen and it prints 6 copies, but you will only need one for your application. You can cut your photo at home or bring the whole sheet with you to the office. There is a photo puncher available. There is no photo booth at the immigration office in Omiya, however. Keep that in mind.

Once you have gathered all your documents, photo and signed forms, head over to the immigration office. The closes office for me was in Omiya along the Saikyo line, just 10 minutes walk from the Yonomachi station. There is also one in Tokyo. The office hours are 9:00-16:00, Monday thru Friday. Closed on weekends and holidays. Be aware that the window counters are closed at 12pm for lunch. Since you already filled out the forms as instructed, proceed to 'Window A' and submit all the documents, photo and forms. The clerk will double check to make sure your applications are in proper order and that you have all the documents. After which, the clerk will place your application in a clear folder and hand over the folder along with a number card. Almost there gaijin. The next process is to wait while they verify your application. Usually, they will call your number in about 30 minutes depending on how many applicants are in front of you. When they call your number, they will return your passport and alien card along with a note of when you can return to the office to get your new card. The waiting time is about 3 weeks. You are done for today. Now until the stated date, you will need to stop by a post office to get a 4,000yen stamp. There is one nearby the immigration office in Omiya if you decide to get it on the day of your returning trip.

Bring with you your alien card, passport and the 4,000yen stamp if you haven't gotten it already. Proceed to Window A and hand over the mentioned items. The clerk will hand you a form, ticket and kindly remind you of the 4,000yen. Glue the stamp and sign the form. Your new card is almost in your grasp. Once they call you, they will briefly explain about the new card and return the old punched out visa card back. That is it. You are now officially done and are legal for another 3 years.

Additional information:

The alien card has gotten a facelift. Is that all? Not quite. The Japanese government has improved their system on tracking us foreigners. Much like the Japanese drivers license, there is an ic chip embedded within the card that contains our personal information. Make sure you don't accidentally swipe the card over Suica machines. You may find yourself in a jam when police officials try to verify your identical and noticed there is no identity associated with this card and you. The much improvement to this immigration system is that we no longer require to apply for a re-entry permit stamp whenever we leave Japan for within a year. The new card shows prove we are current and legally permitted to leave Japan and return hassle-free.

No one likes to go to the immigration office lets be honest. Yes, 3 years is a long time, but it is still a hassle. When I was there at the office, I asked the clerk about applying for a permanent status. He said I qualify, but I need an additionally document from my wife's employment which I do not have at the time. If you have been here for at least 3 years, I am pretty sure, you are qualify for a permanent status as well. If you are interested and you want to know what are the requirements, you can view the pdf file for permanent status (in Japanese). Also, for anyone who wants to know the requirements for 3-5 years status (in Japanese), I've also uploaded the information as well. Good luck.

Update-01: I am surprised this post has gotten somewhat popular since I wrote it last. There are 2-5 hits per day. Thank you and I hope the information has helped you. As an update to what has been written, I have applied and received my permanent visa status. The process is pretty much the same other than to provide a few extra documents as stated above and the cost is a little more. The wait time before they approve you is about one year. I can't remembered how long it took me, but if I had to guess it was pretty close to a year. One would think permanent means just that, permanent. You still need to visit the office to renew the card when it expired though. The good news is that you don't need to go every three, but six years now.

Update-02 [Apr.21.2017]: It appears the law has changed along with some requirements.

  • For those who currently hold a spouse visa and are looking to renew their status. Follow this guideline at moj.go.jp.
  • For those who holds a permanent visa, follow this guideline for renewal.


[15] Comments:

  1. Marvin

    Question PDF # 3 on your link of needed forms. You are saying we need to fill this out this again? Telling our life story again and how we met, how long we dated and the picture thing again? 質問書 Also need the Kosekitohone again? Tankful for any clarification on this matter.
  2. Duc Su

    @Jonas I am not too sure about being legal during the filing process. You would need to ask one of the personnel there. My guess is that you should be ok. You just need to explain to them your situation and show them the filing number. I don`t know exactly the correct term, but it`s the `receipt` with the filing number that will be stapled to your passport during the process.
  3. Jonas

    Hi and thanks for the nice article! I am just about done on my first 1 year spousal visa. My wife is working and I just managed to get a job. Of course, I am out a bit late with my renewal/extension. It expires in early August and I want to be sure about being covered in the pending period. Once you get the pre-approval (filing the paperwork), are you legal to work/stay even if you have not received a new residence card and your current expires? Thanks!
  4. Duc Su

    @Jin Thanks for the additional information. I am sure it will come in handy for others. Yes, the outcome of how many years you get will depend on your status and each of us will be different. I suppose I was very lucky to have gotten 3 years extension from the beginning and now I am a PR after my 3rd renewal. I want to point out that even though they have given me PR status, it doesn`t mean I do not have to visit the migration office ever again. I still do, but not every 3 years but 6.
  5. The Morokko Jin

    This is very helpful. But, I would like some extra information. I am married to a Japanese. I have spent 4 years in Japan so far. They are always giving me 1 year visa extension in each renewal. Yes, I have no criminal records and have no problems in my marriage. To get the 3 years visa extension. It is necessary that your Japanese spouse to have a stable job and more importantly paying the national taxes. If your Japanese spouse does not pay taxes. It is very hard or almost impossible to get the 3 years visa. There should be some special cases for those people who live in the country sides and have children... They will always give you 1 year extension until you or your partner pays the national taxes. My wife does not have a job and does not pay taxes. But, I payed taxes for last year. This time I have more chances to get the 3 year visa. But, I am afraid because I am only doing a part time job. For your information, you can''t apply for the permanent visa unless you have the 3 year visa first. Also, you need to know that there are some people who got a 6 months extension as well. So, you should thankful to them if they gave the bloody 1 year. I checked immigration official website. They mainly focus on asking for "Documents certifying an annual income and tax payment." This means all it matters is your annual income and tax payment. If you and the person who is sponsoring you has a good annual income and always pays the national taxes. Then, you must be from the lucky people and most likely you will get the 3 years visa and the PR easily. If not, then you must be like me. You will have to suffer before or wait for a miracle to happen to get the 3 year visa. On October, I will be renewing my visa for the fifth time. I will inform you when I get the 3 years visa. For this page admin, I would like to share with you my full story with the visa extension.If you want to post it on here, it will be fine for me. Thank you.
  6. Robert

    From application day to pick up day, of my extended spouse visa was exactly 1 week. As long as you are both working, not living at home leeching off others while not working, then there is little to no reason for them to deny your visa. Unless you have a conviction for a major crime in your past during your stay up until now in Japan. By "major" I mean it has to be a trial which took place under the new Lay-in Judge system or your conviction was in excess of 3 years prison time (with or without suspension). So, for example, a you committed theft of a 100,000 yen item and were sentenced to 1 year prison with 3 years probation and you have kept yourself clean since then , then there is little chance that they would break up a marriage for a petty issue like this. This doesn`t mean you can go out stealing things, the judge can give you up to 10 years without probation for your first conviction after you were caught stealing chocolate from a shop. In that case you will definitely not be able to remain in japan or return here once you leave, ever again. Aside from crime, income is another important factor. You and your spouse, if living in tokyo 23ku , will each need to be earning at least 250,000 yen before taxes per month and at least one of you needs to be permanent worker (Seishainn or Kaishainn) (not part time). Obviously this differs for people in rural areas where the salaries aren''t so high. My visa, in a rural area, had a requirement of 170,000 yen / month base salary, or so they told me. Kids are another very major influence on your visa. If you are a convicted criminal out on probation, without a job and relying on your partner for support on a 250,000 yen monthly salary shared between you. Your child more or less guarantees you will get the extension and very quickly. This is because of a certain law enacted to prevent the government for causing mental anguish by forcibly separating a mother or father from their child. They simply can not say no.
  7. Dan

    Thank you so much!!! This helps a lot!
  8. Luke

    Please note: the photo fee is now 800yen and the option to choose the size is gone now, so you dont have to worry about buying the wrong size. Also you dont need to and maybe shouldnt cut out and stick your photo on the form because the system changed and they do it for you when you go to the counter i.e. B counter.
  9. Alan

    Thank you for this helpful post. Just did mines today in about 2 hours. P.S. Not sure if everyone knows, but if your address is in Tokyo, you can only go to the immigration office in Tokyo. I tried going to the one in Saitama because there''s less people, but I was turned away because I live in Tokyo.
  10. Jamam

    To make a long story short, your info here helped me a lot. Thank you for laying it out succinctly.
  11. Jake

    Hey, Great post and very useful information! The MOJ link provided is for the first time spouse visa appliers, as Phil mentioned. If you''re planning to renew your spouse visa, try this one: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000103542.pdf
  12. Phil

    Hi, thanks so much for this blog. I noticed on that link to the MOJ, there were forms which seem to be for when you apply for spouse visa for the FIRST TIME. I am renewing my visa after already 3 years on the spouse visa, which forms will I need this time? I really appreciate your advice and suggestion. Thank you.
  13. Duc Su

    @Rose I got mine in about 3 weeks. I can''t say for sure if that is enough time since it''s a case by case. Having said that, I think you should be ok. Do it asap.
  14. Rose

    My visa will expired in May can i renew by this time?
  15. Jamaipanese

    wow, this post should be very useful to many individuals in Japan. I have seen many a website and forum post looking for help.