【Study in Japan】Is it possible to invite a relative’s child to Japan?

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A status of residence (visa) is required for foreigners to live in Japan. There are several residence statuses that allow you to call your family members, but most of them are limited to spouse (wife, husband) and children (biological or adopted). For example, children of relatives such as nieces and nephews cannot be invited on a family visa.
If you are considering having your child study or homestay in Japan because of a relative’s presence in Japan, a “Student(留学)” visa may make this possible. In this part, we will focus mainly on cases of studying in elementary, junior high, and high schools.

If you want to invite your relative’s child to Japan to attend school, choose a “Student” visa.

“Status of residence” indicates the extent to which a foreigner may legally land, stay, and engage in activities in Japan. As of November 2023, there are 29 different statuses of residence. Status of residence is often referred to as a “visa”. Status of residence is assigned according to the activity (e.g., study abroad, work, etc.) and status (spouse, child, etc.). The list of status of residence is below. In other words, if you do not have any of the following, you are not allowed to stay in Japan.

As you can see in the table, so-called “family visas” are often applicable to “status-based status of residence”, but in most cases only “spouse (wife/husband)” and “children (biological, adopted, or step-children)” are applicable. There are some exceptional cases where parents can be invited, but at this time, “nieces”, “nephews”, “cousins”, and other distant relatives cannot be invited on a “family visa”.

Therefore, if you want to invite a relative’s child to study in Japan, even if the child is younger than 10 years old, the status of residence to be considered is “Student”.

The activities of the status of residence ” Student” are defined as follows.

Activities to receive education at a university, college of technology, high school (including the second semester of secondary education school), or high school of special support school, junior high school (including the first semester of secondary education school) or junior high school of special support school, elementary school or elementary school of special training school or various schools or institutions equivalent thereto in terms of facilities and organization in Japan.

As mentioned above, the status of residence “Student” also includes elementary school, junior high school, and high school.

*However, if you are studying abroad for a short period of time (less than 3 months), please consider ” Short-term stay(短期滞在) visa”.

Public schools are also acceptable.

If you are taking care of a relative’s child to study abroad for, say, six months or a year, or “until the child graduates from elementary school”, one of the things you may be wondering is whether a regular school would be acceptable. You may wonder if it has to be a private school, an international school, or a school where teachers who are familiar with the child’s native language are enrolled and special curricula are prepared.
The answer is that the school can be a local “public” (municipal or district) school. However, there are requirements for schools and boarding houses according to the educational level (elementary, junior high, or high school) of the school where you wish your relative’s child to study. You will also be required to be a suitable guardian.

On the other hand, if the child is attending, for example, an elementary or junior high school under a “Dependent(家族滞在)” status, there is basically no requirement for the school he/she plans to attend. Schools may be confused about this point, so please understand the points in the next chapter and explain this point to the school in some cases. In some cases, you may need to negotiate.

Points for “Student” status of residence when attending elementary, junior high, or high school

If the child is to study in a Japanese elementary, junior high, or high school, the environment must be appropriate for the child’s age.

▶Reference:Immigration Service Agency”「Residence status “Student”

Elementary School

The following requirements apply to students who wish to study at an elementary school. The elementary school can be public or private, but it must have full-time staff to supervise the lives of the foreign children. In addition, since the children are young, guardians must be able to provide an environment where they can care for the children and live without any inconvenience, and must be able to prepare for the costs of study abroad.

RequirementCheck Point
AgeUnder 14 years old
Japanese Language Proficiencynone
Presence of life guidance staffThe elementary school the child attends must have a full-time staff member in charge of teaching foreign children about life in Japan.
Presence of a custodianThe applicant must have a custodian (guardian) to support his/her life as a foreign student in Japan.
For example, a dorm mother, a relative residing in Japan, or the head of a homestay family.
AccommodationsThe applicant must have a boarding house where it is ensured that the applicant’s personal care is taken care of.
*General facilities such as hotels and inns do not fall under this category.
Preparation for tuition and living expensesThe guardian must have the ability to pay for the child’s expenses to study in Japan.

Junior High School

The following requirements apply to students who wish to study at a junior high school. The junior high school may be a public or private school, but it must have a full-time staff member to supervise the foreign student’s daily life. The junior high school student must also be provided with a room in a boarding house and a custodian (guardian) must be able to pay for the student’s expenses.

RequirementCheck Point
AgeUnder 17 years old
Japanese Language Proficiencynone
Presence of life guidance staffThe junior high school that the student attends must have a full-time staff member in charge of teaching the foreign student’s daily life.
Presence of a custodianThe applicant must have a custodian (guardian) to support his/her life as a foreign student in Japan.
For example, a dorm mother, a relative residing in Japan, or the head of a homestay family.
AccommodationsThe applicant must have a boarding house where it is ensured that the applicant’s personal care is taken care of.
*General facilities such as hotels and inns do not fall under this category.
Preparation for tuition and living expensesThe guardian must have the ability to pay for the child’s expenses to study in Japan.

High School

For high school students, a certain level of Japanese language proficiency is required due to the increased level of study content. On the other hand, the presence of a caretaker or daily life supervisor, as was the case in elementary and junior high school, is no longer a requirement.
In addition, the requirements for studying abroad under a “Student exchange plan or other similar international exchange plan(学生交換計画その他これに準ずる国際交流計画)” are different.

RequirementCheck Point
AgeUnder 20 years old
Japanese Language ProficiencyAt least one year of Japanese language education or education in Japanese at an educational institution.
※Study abroad not under a “Student exchange plan or other similar international exchange plan”
Preparation for tuition and living expensesThe guardian must have the ability to pay for the child’s expenses to study in Japan.
※Study abroad not under a “Student exchange plan or other similar international exchange plan”

Conclusion

When children of elementary or junior high school age study in Japan, if they do not come to Japan with their parents, they will come to Japan with the status of residence of “Student”. Since elementary and junior high school students need someone to take care of them, it is a prerequisite that the school has a “life guidance counselor” who can take care of foreign children and students, and that the boarding house also has a “caretaker” who can take care of them.
Please make your study in Japan a wonderful experience that will enrich not only the study but also the homestay life!

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