【International marriage】Can I bring my foreign partner’s stepchildren to Japan?

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In an international marriage between a Japanese (permanent resident) and a foreigner with a child(ren) with the foreigner’s former spouse (wife/husband), the foreign partner applies for a status of residence (visa) as “Spouse of Japanese National(日本人の配偶者)” (Spouse of permanent resident(永住者の配偶者)), while the child(ren) may apply for a status of residence (visa) as “Long Term Resident(定住者)” or the like. It is also possible to apply for a foreign partner and stepchildren at the same time.
In this part, we will explain the procedures and key points of the “Long Term Resident” visa for a foreign partner’s stepchildren.

Applicable cases are these

The following is a summary of the family structure and applicable status of residence described in this section.

In the case of a marriage between a Japanese and a foreigner

【Family structure】
Japanese
・Foreign Partner
・Child of foreign partner and his/her former wife (husband) *There is no blood relationship between a Japanese national and the child of his or her foreign partner’s former wife(or husband).
StatusStatus of Residence to be applied for
Foreign PartnerSpouse or Child of Japanese National
Step childLong Term Resident

In the case of a marriage between a foreigner (status of residence ‘permanent resident’) and a foreigner

【family structure】
Foreigner (resident status “permanent residents”))
・Foreign Partner
・Child of foreign partner and his/her former wife (husband) *There is no blood relationship between a permanent resident and the child of his or her foreign partner’s former wife(or husband).
statusStatus of Residence to be applied for
Foreign PartnerSpouse or Child of Permanent Resident
Step childLong Term Resident

Points to invite your foreign stepchildren

There are four points to consider when inviting a foreign stepchild to live with you in Japan.

Four points

Application points for 'Long Term Resident' stepchildren
・Parent’s status of residence is “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” or “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident”.
・Must be the biological child of the foreign partner
・Must be a minor and unmarried
・To live with support

There are four points to apply for “Long Term Resident” for a stepchild as described above.
First, the parent’s status of residence is limited to “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” or “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident“. To apply for these statuses of residence (visa) in the first place, the marriage must have been consummated. Divorce from the previous spouse must be finalized, and the application must be made after the marriage is finalized. In addition, being “married to a Japanese national” is not enough; you must be residing in Japan under the status of “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” or “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident”.

Second, the child must be the biological child of the foreign partner. This does not apply to adopted children. The child must also be a minor and unmarried, but the criteria are based on Japanese Civil Code. Currently, the age at which a child can be called a minor in Japan is under 18 years of age.

Living with support, which means that the stepchildren will (essentially) live with their parents after they remarry, assuming that they have enough income and savings to raise the children. There is no specific amount of income or savings required, but the parents must have a regular income from a regular job, or have enough resources to live on even if you are unemployed (at the time of application).

Do I need to go through the adoption process?

In order to apply for this “Long Term Resident” status for a stepchild, the stepchild does not have to be adopted by the Japanese or permanent resident partner. The point is, as stated above, that the child must be the biological child of the foreign partner.

Can stepchildren and parent apply at the same time?

We have talked about the fact that the status of residence of a parent must be “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” or “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident”, but some of you may be wondering whether to apply together with the foreign partner and your stepchildren who are about to apply. I will answer this question.

Parent and stepchildren may apply at the same time

It is possible to apply for the status of “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” (or “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident”) for the foreign partner and “Long Term Resident” for the stepchild at the same time.

It is possible to apply at the same time, or to apply for the stepchildren after the foreign partner’s (parent’s) application is approved. It is also possible to apply for the stepchild while the foreign partner (parent) is applying.
In all cases, the “Long Term Resident” of the stepchild will not be granted unless the foreign partner (parent) is granted permission. Please take this into consideration when deciding whether to apply together or only for the parent. (In the case of a stepchild, only the child cannot apply first.)

If the Japanese partner is also abroad, the family can enter together.

For example, if Japanese partner, foreign partner, and stepchildren are all currently abroad, you can apply for status of residence while all of them are abroad. If you have a someone who helps you in Japan, you can apply for a “Certificate of Eligibility” in Japan and apply for a visa with the “Certificate of Eligibility” once it is issued.
If you do not have someone who helps you in Japan, you can apply for a visa directly at the local Japanese embassy or other appropriate organization.

If all the applicants move their living base from overseas to Japan at the same time, there may be a possibility that they are temporarily unemployed and do not have a stable income. Even in such a case, if there is some prospect of making a living, the application will be approved, depending on the circumstances.

Procedures

In order to call your stepchild from abroad, you must apply for a “Certificate of Eligibility”. Preparation for the application will be explained.

Required Documents

The following is a case of an international marriage between a Japanese and a foreign partner, who is applying for “Long Term Resident” status for the foreign partner’s stepchildren.

Required documents for stepchildren
・Application for Certificate of Eligibility(在留資格認定証明書交付申請書)/Application for change of status of residence(在留資格変更許可申請書)
・ID photo
・1 copy of family register(戸籍謄本) of a Japanese person
・1 copy of the residence card(住民票) of a Japanese person
・Certificate of residence tax(住民税の課税証明書) for the most recent year and tax payment certificate (for one year) of a Japanese person or the spouse
・Documents proving occupation and income (certificate of employment, tax return, copy of savings book)(在職証明書、確定申告書、貯金通帳の写し)
・Personal guarantee of the parent(Japanese national)
※Click here for more information
※In addition to the above, documents may be submitted to provide additional information about your life and past residency status. The above information is the minimum required documentation.

Apply to the Immigration Service Agency

Basically, the application is filed at the Immigration Service Agency with jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence, or the residence of the foreign national or the applicant’s representative.

The following are the rules regarding where to apply.

【Principle】Rules regarding the place of application
【Application for Certificate of Eligibility】 ※In case the foreigner is abroad.
Regional immigration office with jurisdiction over the planned place of residence or the residence of the applicant’s representative
【Application for change of status of residence or application for permission for extension of period of stay】
Regional immigration office with jurisdiction over the place of residence
Regional Immigration OfficeArea of jurisdiction of the
Sapporo Immigration and Residence OfficeHokkaido
Sendai Immigration BureauMiyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Iwate, Akita, Aomori
Tokyo Immigration BureauTokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture (Yokohama Branch Office has jurisdiction), Saitama Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Ibaraki Prefecture, Tochigi Prefecture,
Gunma, Yamanashi, Nagano, Niigata
Nagoya Immigration BureauAichi, Mie, Shizuoka, Gifu, Fukui, Toyama, Ishikawa
Osaka Immigration BureauOsaka, Kyoto, Hyogo (Kobe Branch Office has jurisdiction), Nara, Shiga and Wakayama Prefectures
Hiroshima Immigration BureauHiroshima, Yamaguchi, Okayama, Tottori, Shimane
Fukuoka Immigration BureauFukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Miyazaki Prefectures,
Okinawa Prefecture (Naha Branch Office has jurisdiction)

If there is no branch office nearby, you may apply at the nearest branch or local office. However, depending on the branch office, there may be cases where they do not accept applications for status of residence, so please check with them.

▶ Immigration Services Agency: Jurisdiction

Who makes the application?

When inviting a foreigner from abroad, basically, a Japanese person residing in Japan who invites the applicant (foreigner) or a relative of the Japanese person can file an application as a representative of the applicant (foreigner). The applicant should go to the Immigration Service Agency that has jurisdiction over the applicant’s planned place of residence or the place of residence of the applicant’s relative or other representative. If the applicant is a child under 16 years of age, a legal representative (such as a parent) may apply on his/her behalf.
In either case, simultaneous entry to Japan by both spouses is possible if the conditions are met.

On the other hand, an “agent” who has filed the application can apply on behalf of the applicant. Examples of “agents” include administrative scrivener(行政書士) and lawyers.
*You can also ask an administrative scrivener to do this for you.

Conclusion

The above is an explanation of the points and procedures for applying for “Long Term Resident” status for a stepchild.
This status of residence is called “stepchild settled residence(連れ子定住)” and can be applied for from abroad without any problem if all the points are met. Even if the parent is not yet in Japan, the child’s application can be filed at the same time as the parent’s application for “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” or “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident”.
If you are concerned about your income, it is important to explain that you have the financial resources to live with your family in Japan without any problems.

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