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I work as an immigration lawyer and also specialize in naturalization, and I am frequently asked about naturalization. The question I am asked is whether the person can be naturalized.
All of the people want to know whether or not they can be naturalized. They want to be naturalized now if possible, and if it is not possible to be naturalized, yet they want to know what they should do so that they can be naturalized. Are you the same? The possibility of naturalization requires correct understanding of the conditions for naturalization. I will now tell you those conditions for naturalization.
Next, I will explain the conditions for an ordinary foreigner to apply for naturalization. Ordinary refers to foreigners who are not married to a Japanese person and all other foreigners other than special permanent residents.
This includes non-married foreigners and foreigners who are married to another foreigner, for example an Australian married couple. It does not matter if the couple has children or not.
A question I am often asked by married people is whether all of the family members must be naturalized, but it is possible for just one person to be naturalized. It is okay for you to be naturalized and your spouse or children to remain un-naturalized. It is also okay for you and your children to be naturalized and your spouse to remain un-naturalized. It is okay for just one person to be naturalized.
In the event that both the husband and the wife want to be naturalized and one person fulfills the naturalization conditions and one person does not fulfill the conditions, there are many cases in which it is possible to make simultaneous applications if one person fulfills the naturalization conditions, even if that person’s spouse does not fulfill the naturalization conditions. This is because if one person is granted permission for naturalization, that person’s spouse will automatically become a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person.
The naturalization conditions will be loosened for a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person. Therefore, if the person fulfills the conditions for a naturalization application for a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person at the time of application it will be okay. Later I will explain the conditions for naturalization for a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person. If the conditions are fulfilled, both people can apply for naturalization at the same time.
First are the conditions. If the conditions are cleared, naturalization will be possible. Although it is a lot of trouble to create documents and gather documents, in the end permission will be granted.
First are the conditions. Please confirm the conditions.
The first thing is the residence requirement.
・The person has lived in Japan continuously for at least five years.
Put simply, this is the question of whether you have lived in Japan for at least five years. Continuously.
Continuously for at least five years. It must be continuously; therefore, in the event that, for example, you lived in Japan for three years, then went to another country for one year, and then lived in Japan again for two years, it would be no good. It must be continuously. In this example, the first three years cannot be counted; therefore, it would be necessary to wait three more years and add them to the latter two years.
In addition, it is necessary to have a period of working for at least three years. This must be as a regular employee, not a part-time employee. Although it must be as a regular employee, a contract employee or a dispatched employee is also okay. It is necessary to have a working visa and be working for at least three years.
■ For example, the following type of person is okay.
・A person who studied in Japan for two years and worked for three years, making a total of five years, is okay.
The next type of person does not fulfill the conditions.
・A person who studied in Japan for five years and worked for two years, making a total of 7 years
It is necessary to work for at least three years; therefore, another one year is necessary.
It is okay even if you have changed jobs multiple times. Many people are worried about multiple job changes, but it is okay even if you changed jobs many times. However, the condition is that your visa did not expire.
The next thing that I would like you to confirm is the number of dates you left Japan during the five years. Caution is necessary for people who left the country for 3 months or longer at one time for something such as an overseas business trip, going to your home country to give birth, or leaving Japan at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. If you go outside Japan for three continuous months, the history of residence up to that point is eliminated, and the period of time will be counted again from zero. Also, even if the time of leaving Japan once is shorter than 3 months, it will be the same result if you have left Japan for 200 days in one year. For example, if you left Japan for 2 months on 4 occasions, even though one time is within 3 months, the total is 240 days. This is also no good.
I am frequently asked if it is okay if it is longer than 3 months for one time if it was a company business trip. It is no good even if it was a business trip that was ordered by the company. It is no good even if you say that your visa did not expire and although you were not in Japan for 3 months and you were paying rent the entire time. I am asked if it will be okay if a certificate can be received from the company, but that is no good.
For a person who has lived in Japan for ten years or more, if his or her work experience is one year or more it will be okay. For example, studying in Japan for 9 years and working for one year, making a total of ten years, will be okay.
If you have lived in Japan for ten years or more it will be okay with only one year of work, but in the case of living in Japan for less than ten years it will be absolutely necessary to have at least three years of work experience.
Next, is the second condition.
・The person is 20 years old or older.
If the person is 20 years old or older, it is okay. This is simple, so I will go on to the next thing.
The third condition
The third condition is a behavior requirement.
This is a question of whether or not you are an earnest person. That you properly pay taxes and have no criminal record. For a company employee, the first thing is residence tax. For taxes, it is necessary to prove payment even for your spouse’s portion. Please take care, because it will be no good if you are paying taxes but your spouse’s tax payments are delinquent.
For residence tax, there are two types of people: people who have it withheld by their company and people who must pay it to the government themselves. If you look at your paycheck and see that residence tax is being withheld there is no problem. There are also cases in which the company does not withhold residence tax. People who work for such companies must pay it themselves, but if they are paying it of course, there is no problem. There are people who sometimes do not pay their residence tax. If you have not paid it, if you pay it from now on there will be no problem. Please be sure to pay the entire amount of unpaid portions.
The thing that I would like you to pay attention to for residence tax is dependents. Please check your own tax withholding slip. For example, there are cases in which a wife or husband who is working a part-time job is included as a dependent. If a person is included as a dependent, his or her taxes will be less. However, if the annual income from the part-time job is 1,030,000 yen or more, he or she cannot be included as a dependent.
The next thing is that you have no criminal record. Put simply, this means whether or not you have ever been arrested by the police. I think the most common things are traffic violations by people who drive automobiles.
I think this is not very relevant for people who do not have a driver’s license. For traffic violations, the violation history for the past five years will be looked at. The violation history earlier than five years ago is basically irrelevant. How many traffic violations have you committed between five years ago and now? If there are a lot, it will influence the screening. However, if there are five or less in the five-year period it will be okay. Even if there are more than that you will not be turned down, but I think the person at the Legal Affairs Bureau will say various things to you.
I think there are very few people who have been arrested for things other than traffic violations, but I think there are some. For example, there are people who got into a fight with someone in town or who shoplifted. However, if court procedures are not conducted and a sentence is not finalized it will not become a criminal record; therefore, most cases will not be a problem.
Due to a law revision in July 2012, another point has become whether or not you are also making pension payments. For people who are enrolled in their company’s employees’ pension and are having payments withheld from their salary there is no problem, but I think that there are also some companies that do not use employees’ pension. Such people must pay national pension payments. Many foreigners do not make such payments at all. If you are such a person, please pay a 1-year portion. If you pay the national pension payments for the most recent 1-year period for the time being, naturalization will be okay. The payments are approximately 15,000 yen per month, so for one year it will be approximately 180,000 yen.
If you are a person operating a company, you must enroll the company in employees’ pension. Payment of employees’ pension insurance premiums will be a condition.
Next, is the livelihood requirement.
The livelihood requirement is the question of whether you have sufficient money to live on your income and that of the family members living with you. I am frequently asked what amount of savings is necessary, but whether you have a lot of savings or a little is irrelevant. It is more important that you have a stable occupation and a monthly income. Please do not suddenly deposit 1 million yen or 2 million yen into the bank. There are people who borrow money from a parent or relative and deposit it in their own bank account, but it is better to not do this. You will have to show the Legal Affairs Bureau your bankbook, and if there is a suspicious deposit, you will have to explain it. Whether you have a lot of savings or a little is irrelevant, so please be honest.
For a company employee, if the person’s salary every month is a minimum of at least approximately 180,000 yen there will be no problem.
It is okay if you are a regular employee, a contract employee, or a dispatched employee. However, if you have lost your job and are unemployed it is no good. Please apply after finding a job.
A person who operates a company will have director’s remuneration, and for this, too, permission will be granted even if it is approximately 180,000 yen every month.
I am also often asked whether it is advantageous to buy a home. The answer to this is also that it is neither advantageous nor disadvantageous. It is okay to own a home and it is also completely okay to rent a home. This is irrelevant to the screening.
The fifth thing is the loss matter.
If you are naturalized in Japan, you can lose the nationality of your home country. Japan does not allow dual citizenship. Some countries have compulsive military service; therefore, it is advisable to check with your relevant home country to find out whether or not naturalization in another country is impossible unless military service has ended.
The sixth thing is your ideology.
Put simply, this means that you do not have any dangerous thoughts such as wanting to destroy the Japanese nation, in other words that you are not a terrorist. I assume that this is not a problem.
Lastly, the seventh thing is that you can read and write Japanese.
This means reading and writing, not speaking. The level is equivalent to the level of third grade in elementary school. If you have passed around level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, this will be no problem whatsoever, but there is in fact a test.
When I have asked clients what kind of a test it was they said that, for example, it involved changing hiragana into katakana. It seems that there are a variety of forms for the test, but the level of the test is not high.
Naturalization requirements for a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person
There are many things about the naturalization requirements that are the same as those for an ordinary foreigner, but please note the matters below.
・Loosening of the requirement of living together
For a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person, the requirement of living together will be loosened somewhat.
Usually, the residence requirement for an ordinary foreigner is that they have lived in Japan for at least five years, but for a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person this will be loosened to “having an address in Japan continuously for at least three years, and currently having an address in Japan.” This means that, for example, if you were living in Japan for three years as a student, the condition for naturalization will be fulfilled at the time you marry a Japanese person. It does not matter whether you are a student or an adult, if you are a foreigner who has lived in Japan for at least three years you can be naturalized if you simply marry a Japanese person. It is not necessary to wait for three years after getting married. Many people have the misunderstanding that it is necessary to wait three years after getting married, but that is not the case. If you have a background of already living in Japan for at least three years, the requirement will be fulfilled at the time you marry a Japanese person.
There is one more requirement by which it is possible to naturalize even if you have not lived in Japan for at least three years. This is if three years have passed since the date of marriage and you have had an address in Japan continuously for at least one year. This means that even if you have only been living in Japan for one year it will be okay if at least three years have passed since you got married. Let’s take an example of someone who married a Japanese person in another country. For example, let’s assume a case in which a Japanese person was living in China for work and he or she married a Chinese person in China. The Japanese person and the Chinese person lived in China for two years after getting married, and then the period of the posting ended and the two people moved to Japan. If they then live in Japan for at least one year, the naturalization requirement will be cleared.
For foreign people who are married to a Japanese person, I would like you to note that there may be people who, even though they are married to a Japanese person, received special permission for residence because they overstayed in the past. For such people, it will be necessary for at least ten years to have passed since the date they received special permission for residence. In such a case, naturalization is not possible when three years have passed, so please be careful.
For a foreign person who is married to a Japanese person, the number of years of work experience that person has will not be questioned.
As for the pension of a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person, a foreigner who is married to a Japanese person who is enrolled in employees’ pension and who is being supported by that Japanese person falls under a “category III insured person,” and therefore the foreigner him or herself does not have an obligation of payment. Therefore, there will be no problem for pension. However, in the event that the Japanese person is enrolled in national pension or in the event that the foreigner is not being supported, there will be an obligation for the foreigner to also pay pension payments.
It is okay if a foreign person who is married to a Japanese person is unemployed, for example a homemaker. It will be necessar
Were you able to confirm the conditions for naturalization from this explanation? I think there are probably people who can clear the conditions for naturalization now, and people who must wait for 1 or two years. The period of screening for a naturalization application is long, and it takes approximately 8 to ten months until a result is given.
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