My Painless Path to Permanent Residency–because it’s my blog and I’ll alliterate if I want to.
In September 2016, before receiving notice of our transfer to India, I decided it was damn well time to join the ranks of the permanent residents of Japan (永住者 eijyuusha). I received my shiny new status in February of 2017.
First, to dispel a common misconception, no, becoming a permanent resident does not mean renouncing my US citizenship. What it does mean:
*I become, essentially, my own sponsor, with my hubs as a guarantor.
*In essence, I no longer need to reapply for a visa every three years anymore–back story, up until this point I had had two 3 year working visas, and I was in the middle of my 3 year spousal visa.
*I can work in whatever field I choose, which is also true for a spousal visa.
*I still have to renew my resident card every 7 years, but it is a much simpler, faster process than going through visa renewal.
*Housing loans and credit cards are much more easily obtained.
*If I leave Japan for an extended period of time I am no longer eligible to withdraw the 60% chunk sum of my pension. It’s there, stuck in pension land, until I’ve paid for 25 years and am eligible to withdraw like a regular Japanese citizen. (Supposing the pension system has not been bled dry by that point….)
*If I leave Japan for an extended period I must apply for a re-entry permit that regular visa holders no longer need.
The process was not nearly as painful as changing from a working visa to a spousal visa, which requires proof of the relationship (totally included a history of our relationship in purikura form), although I might still be bitter about having to stand for four hours at the Chiba immigration office 8 1/2 months pregnant. I did a quick internet search and came across these two websites: the official government site here and this one by a knowledgeable blogger. The only thing I would add is that for tax statements make sure to include your own and those of your guarantor. I didn’t include hubs’ and had to send it in later, probably prolonging the process a bit.
I made two trips to the regional immigration office in Shinagawa, but both were pleasant and quick–done within an hour. That’s really saying something since my bouncing, bubbly toddler accompanied me both times. Be organized, polite, and if you have the Japanese skillz, work ’em.
Why I think I was approved–my impeccable style and witty good humor. Nah, hubs and I have been married for 5 years and I have spent 8 years working here. Guess they figured they weren’t getting rid of me, so might as well cut down on their paperwork and let me stay.