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 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.

In case of the couple is not a Japanese national

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

Basically, a spouse of work-related visa holder is applicable to Dependent visa status in case of different-sex marriage. In case of a foreign couple under same-sex marriage, however, the spouse is applicable to “non-prescribed” Designated Activities visa status, and must come to Japan with a temporary visitor visa first, then apply for Change of Visa Status to Designated Activities while staying in Japan as a temporary visitor.
>> Application for Change of Visa Status

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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