Spouse of a foreign national under same-sex marriage

(April, 2020)

Is there any visa option for a spouse of either a Japanese national or a work-related visa holder under same-sax marriage?

In case of one of the spouse is a Japanese national

The number of countries legalizing the same-sex marriage has been increasing globally.
Unfortunately, however, Same-sex Marriage has still not been legalized in Japan yet. Foreign national of a Japanese spouse under same-sex marriage basically cannot apply for Spouse of a Japanese National visa status since the same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Japan.

There is a few case that the Japan Immigration Office has approved a visa status as Long-term Resident (定住者,Teiju-sha) by the Special Permission to Stay in Japan (在留特別許可). According to the decision of the Immigration Office, they granted him/her the visa status not based on the actual marriage to a Japanese national, but based on the comprehensive consideration of his/her situation spending 20 years or more in Japan.

So, it would be difficult to get approved if the period of stay in Japan is not long enough to convince the immigration office of your eligibility for Long-term Resident visa status in this case.

We hope the Japanese Government will officially legalize same-sex marriage to Japanese nationals and will open visa options to same-sex couples.

In case of both of the couple are not Japanese nationals.

Different from the case above, the Japan Immigration Office grants a foreign spouse under same-sex marriage a visa if the couple is legally married in each country and one of the couple has been residing in Japan under a work-related visa status already.

Basically, spouse of a work-related visa holder is applicable to “Dependent visa” in case of different-sex marriage. However, in case of a couple under same-sex marriage, the spouse is applicable to “non-prescribed” Designated Activities visa.

In that case, the applicant cannot apply for COE (Certificate of Eligibility) outside Japan – application for “non-prescribed” Designated Activities visa cannot be made without the applicant staying in Japan. Therefore, he/she must come to Japan under 90-days Temporary Visitor visa first to apply for Change of Visa Status from Temporary Visitor to Designated Activities, and must process it during the stay in Japan. For the application, his/her spouse holding a work-related visa will be the guarantor and supporter.
>> Application for Change of Visa Status
>> COE Application

If you wish to apply for work-related visa to work in Japan and to bring your same-sex spouse to Japan together with you, you must apply for COE separately from your spouse first since your spouse’s visa (“non prescribed” Designated Activities) is not subject to the COE application. After your COE is issued, you will enter Japan with the COE and your spouse can come to Japan together with you under Temporary Visotor visa. Then, your spouse can apply for Change of Visa Status from Temporary Visitor to Designated Activities after you receive your Residence Card and settle down somewhere in Japan. Of course, you can invite your spouse some months after you start living and working in Japan under work-related visa.

For the application, it is important to certify the legal marriage and relationship in each country of the couple as well as to explain the circumstance of marriage and actual married life. It would be highly possible to be denied if the period of marriage is short and/or the actual married life is not acknowledged. Necessary documents for the application would be different depending on the circumstance and/or nationality of the couple etc., we would highly recommend to apply for it through a professional.

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