Q and A for Undocumented Residents and Refugee Applicants

Revised Immigration Act
Q and A for Medium to Long-term Residents
English Version, Jun.2011

Under the revised Immigration law scheduled to implement for July 2012, foreign residents in Japan, whose status of residence are
permanent resident, long term resident, spouse or child of Japanese national, spouse or child of permanent resident, artist, religious, journalist, cultural activities, professor, investor/business manager, legal/accounting services, medical services, instructor, intra-company transferee, technical intern training, college student, trainee, researcher, engineer, specialist in humanities/international services, entertainer, skilled labor, dependent ,or designated activities,
will be defined as "medium to long-term residents".


Questions
  1. Is it true that the current certificates of alien registration are being abolished ?
  2. Is it convenient if I can extend the period of stay or change of residence status and get a residence card ('zairyu' card) at the same time at the regional immigration office ?
  3. What information is recorded in a residence card ?
  4. What would happen if I don't have my residence card ?
  5. Should not only I but also assigned organizations notify the regional immigration office of some information ?
  6. How will the Ministry of Justice deal with the large amount of personal information about foreign nationals ?
  7. What is meant by "revocation of status of residence" ?
  8. What is a residential certificate for a foreign national resident ('jumin-hyo' for a foreign national resident) ?
  9. What is meant by deletion of the resident registration record ?
  10. What is "Deemed Re-entry permission"?


Q1
Is it true that the current certificates of alien registration are being abolished?

Yes, it is true. The current Alien Registration Act will be abolished and a new system of residence management will be implemented.

The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter Immigration Act), the Special Act on the Immigration Control of, Inter Alia, Those who have lost Japanese Nationality Pursuant to the Treaty of Peace with Japan (hereinafter Special Act), and the Basic Resident Registration Act were revised and promulgated on July 15, 2009. New systems introduced by these revised laws are going into effect in July 2012.
Under the new systems, foreigners that are given status of residence over 3 months (except special permanent residents) are defined as "medium to long-term residents" and treated as below (see Tab.1).


Tab.1 Changes under the revised laws (2012- )
Current
"Alien Registration Act"
Revised Immigration Act and Special Act Revised Basic Resident Registration Act
Special Permanent Residents
(Korean and Taiwanese designated by the Special Act)
Issued with
"Certificate of Alien Registration"
by local government
Issued with "Special Permanent Resident Certificate"
by local government
Issued with "Residential certificate for a foreign national resident"
by local government
Medium to Long-term Residents
(Permanent Residents, College Student, etc.)
Issued with
"Certificate of Alien Registration"
by local government
Issued with "Residence Card"
by local immigration office
Issued with "Residential certificate for a foreign national resident"
by local government
Persons with no status of residence
(overtayers etc.)
Issued with
"Certificate of Alien Registration"
by local government
"Residence Card" will not be issued "Residential certificate for a foreign national resident" will not be issued/eliminated


Q2
Is it convenient if I can extend the period of stay or change of residence status and get a residence card ('zairyu' card) at the same time at the regional immigration office?

No, it does not mean convenient.
When you get a residence card at the regional immigration office, then you have to visit the local government office and report your place of residence. Moreover, when you change your name, date of birth etc, you need to report those changes to the regional immigration office or the local government office within 14 days.

Receive a "residence cards" at the regional immigration office

a "Permanent residents" over 16 years old should visit the regional immigration office every 7 years (on every 7th birthday) and receive new residence cards.
b "Medium to long-term residents" except permanent resident will receive residence cards if you are granted the extension of period of stay or change of residence status at the regional immigration office.
c Foreigners who come to Japan and stay over 3 months will receive residence cards when you get entry to Japan at the immigration clearance of an international airport or seaport.

Punishment for not receiving a residence card

In case of a, b and c, if you refuse to receive a residence card, you will be punished by an imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen. If an imprisonment sentence is imposed, you will be deported from Japan.

Punishment for forgetting update your residence cards

If a permanent resident over 16 years old that fall into a forget to update your residence card in every 7 years, You will be punished by an imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen. If an imprisonment sentence is imposed, you will be deported from Japan.

Notify the local government office of your "place of residence"

You should visit the local government office and notify your place of residence within 14days of establishing a place of residence. The new place of residence will be printed on your residence card.

Penalties for not notifying your place of residence

In case of a and b, failure to notify your place of residence within 14 days is punishable by a fine of not exceeding 200,000.
In case of c, failure to notify about your place of residence within 14 days is punishable by a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen. If you fail to notify within 90 days, your status of residence will be revoked.

Notify the local government office when you move into a new place, you must

When you move in to a new municipality,
1) You must submit a "notification of moving your place of residence" to the municipal office you have lived;
2) Then you must submit a "notification of moving in" to a new municipal office within 14 days after moving,
If you move within the same municipality, you need to submit a "notification of changing your place of residence" within 14days after moving.

Punishment for not notifying such changes within the designated period

If you fail to submit a notification of moving in or a change of address notification within 14 days, you are imposed administrative penalty under the Basic Resident Registration Act (a fine of not exceeding 50,000 yen) and criminal punishment under the Immigration Act (a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen). If you fail to notify within 90 days, your status of residence will be revoked.

Notification from local government to the Ministry of Justice

The local government should notify the Ministry of Justice of your residential information.



Q3
What information is recorded in a residence card?

In addition to your name, nationality etc., other personal information that is critical to Japanese government is also recorded.

Information recorded in a residence card is as follows; name, date of birth, sex, nationality or region, address, status of residence, period of stay, type of permission and date of permission i.e. "entry permitted" or "extension of period of stay", number of the residence card, date of issue and date of expiration of the validity period, recognition/nonrecongnition or conditions of working per status of residence, presence or absence of permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted. Your picture is printed, in case of over 16 years old. IC is embedded in a card to record most of this information.


Fig.1 Image of a "Residence Card"


Q4
What would happen if I don't have my residence card?

If you don't carry it at all time, you would have a lot of troubles.

Carry it at all times under the legal obligation

Foreign residents over 16 years old should always bring their residence cards as before. If you are required to show it to the police or immigration officers, you have to do so.

Punishment for rejecting to present your residence card or not carrying it

Reject to show your residence card is Punishable by an imprisonment for not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen. If the imprisonment sentence is imposed, you will be deported.
Failure to carry your residence card is Punishable by a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen.
When you have lost your residence card, you have to apply its reissue to the regional immigration office within 14 days since you noticed it.

Punishment for not applying for reissue within 14 days

If you fail to do so, you are Punishable by an imprisonment sentence for not more than a year or a fine up to 200,000 yen. If the imprisonment sentence is imposed, you will be deported.

Carry it at all times in your daily life

The Ministry of Justice says "residence cards easily certifies that foreigners themselves have legal status of residence because the cards include updated and important their personal information."
Therefore, you will often be required to show your card whenever you look for an apartment, sign up with a mobile phone, open a banking account, or carry out any similar activities in your daily life.

Need your residence card to find a job

This revision has added a new item "recognition/nonrecongnition or conditions of working per status of residence." The following 1), 2) or 3) will be printed depending on your legal status of residence.
1) Recognition of working
2) Conditions of working per status of residence
3) Nonrecongnition of working; require permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under status of residence

Concerning the above, the Ministry of Justice explains "employers could easily judge if the foreign nationals are permitted to work with their residence cards."
To prevent employers from employing foreigners unknowingly who lack authorization for employment, the revised law require all employers to check residence cards of potential employees and to confirm "whether they are authorized for employment". If an employer hires a worker without such authorization, the employer may be punished.
That is, when you look for even a part-time job, you are required to show your residence card. The employers would confirm if you are permitted to work, to do any activities other than those permitted under status of residence or the date of expiration etc.



Q5
Should not only I but also assigned organizations notify the regional immigration office of some information?

Yes, it is true. This revised law obliges you to notify various changes. Moreover, not only you but also assigned organizations or institutions are required to report some information.

Items that you should notify

Information such as "name, date of birth, sex or nationality" on your residence card is changed, then you should notify the regional immigration office of such changes within 14 days and receive a new residence card.

Punishment for not notifying such changes within 14 days

Failure to notify such changes within 14 days is punishable by a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen.
In addition, referring to Tab.2, row B, when your status of residence is "Professor", "Investor/Business Manager", ...or "Skilled Labor ", you must notify the regional immigration office within 14 days when your organization's name or address is changed, or when you have deserted it.

Tab.2 Items you, your organization and your employer should notify
Visa status A. Items listed on Residence Cards *1 B. Items you should notify *1 C. Items for your assigned organization should notify *1 D. Items to notify designated in the Employment Countermeasures Act
A
p
p
e
n
d
i
x

1
Artist 1.Name

2.Date of birth

3.Sex

4.Nationality or region

5.Place of residence

6.Status of residence

7.Period of stay and date of expiration of the validity period

8.Type of permission and date of permission

9.Number of the residence card, date of issue, date of expiration

10. Recognition/Nonrecongnition or conditions of working per status of residence

11. Presence or absence of permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence
- - *2 1.Name

2.Date of birth

3. Sex

4.Nationality

5. Status of residence and presence or absence of permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted

6.Expiration of stay

7.Place of residence

8.Name and Address of the institution which employs the foreign worker

9.Wages, employment status, job category, working hours and period of employment

10.dates of hiring and separation of the foreign worker
Religious Activities
Journalist
Cultural Activities
Professor 1.Change of name or address of the organization which you belong to

2.When your organization dissolved, then such fact

3.When you leave your organization, then such fact
1.Commencement and termination of acceptance of the foreign resident

2.Other particulars relating to acceptance situations
Investor/Business Manager
Legal/Accounting Services
Medical Services
Instructor
Intra-company transferee
Technical Intern Training
Student
Trainee
Researcher 1.Change of name or address of the organization which you belong to

2.when your organization dissolved, then such fact

3.when you leave the organization, then such fact
Engineer
Specialist in Humanities/International Services
Entertainer
Skilled Labor
Dependent In case of spouse:
you must report it in the event of divorce or the death of your spouse.
Designated activities
A
p
p
e
n
d
i
x
2
Spouse or Child of Japanese National -
Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident
Permanent Resident -
Long-Term Resident
*1 Based on the revised Immigration Act
*2 According to the revised Immigration Act, organizations that accept foreign residents with residence status such as Artist, Religious Activities, Journalist and Cultural Activities should report circumstances of accepting them but the Ministry of Justice says that it is not required to report such circumstances because these residence status are "not based on existence of assigned organizations."

Items that assigned organizations should notify

The revised Employment Countermeasures Act enacted in October 2007 requires all companies and public organizations to notify employment conditions of each foreign employee (see Tab.2, row D) to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Then, that employment information is provided to the Ministry of Justice.

Additionally, referring to revised Immigration Act, organizations that accept foreigners under status of as "Professor", "Investor/Business Manager", …or "Designated activities" notify "other particulars relating to acceptance situations" to the local immigration office when they commence and terminate acceptance of foreigners (see Tab.2, row C). Except employers who shall notify "employment conditions of foreign employees" pursuant the Employment Countermeasures Act.

Educational organizations that accept foreign students should also notify

As the Ministry of Justice says, educational organizations that accept foreign students like language schools, universities, vocational schools should notify name, date of birth, sex, nationality, status of residence, period of stay, number of the residence card and additionally facts about actual enrollment, expelling, expulsion or missing.

Tab.3 Compulsory items and penal provisions for medium to long-term residents
Compulsory items Infringement Penal provisions
Notification Notification of your place of residence after initial landing Notification of changing of your place of residence False notification An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen
Revocation of your status of residence
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Delayed notification A fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen in case of over 14 days
Revocation of your status of residence in case of over 90 days
Notification of changing of your status of residence or assigned organization Notification of or divorce or death of your spouse False notification An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Reporting delay A fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen (in case of over 14 days)
Residence card Acceptance of your card Not acceptance An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Carrying of your card at any time Not carrying A fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen
Presentation of your card Refusal of Presentation An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Renewal of the validity period of your card Delayed renewal An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen if expired
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Reissuance of your card due to loss etc. Delayed reissuance An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen in case of over 14 days
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Reissuance of your card due to defacement or damage Noncompliance with reissuance order An imprisonment not more than a year or a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen in case of over 14 days
Deportation (those who are sentenced above)
Return of your card Delayed return A fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen in case of over 14 days

Q6
How will the Ministry of Justice deal with the large amount of personal information about foreign nationals?

The Ministry of Justice says that it will use all of personal information when it examines foreign nationals for extension of period of stay, change of status, or revocation of status.

Under the new system of residence management, your accurate and latest information is continuously gathered by the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau. Also the Ministry of Justice has records of your entry and departure history such as deportations, your fingerprints and facial photographs you were taken in entering or re-entering Japan, and also blacklist information.

Broad investigatory powers

Also, in order to be able to continuously obtain personal information about you, the Ministry of Justice has been given broad investigatory powers under the new Immigration Act. Regional immigration bureaus can force people to appear for questioning or to submit written documents. They can do this not only to you, but also to persons concerned.
Also, the new legislation has given the Ministry of Justice authority to demand additional information from the local government which issue your residential certificate ('jumin-hyo' for a foreign national resident) or assigned organizations.

Utilization of Personal information in investigations by comparing it

The Ministry of Justice compares personal information that it has gathered in the following way.
For example, it will check items B in Tab. 2 taken from you to items C or D taken from assigned organizations. In this way, the Ministry will use personal information in investigations related to the extension of your period of stay, change of status, or revocation of status.


Q7
What is meant by "revocation of status of residence"?

That is the first step to taking away a foreign resident's livelihood and life in Japan.

Status of residence can be taken away in the middle of your period of stay.

"Revocation system of status of residence" was created with the 2004 revision of the Immigration Act. If you "don't undertake the activities authorized by your status of residence for 3 months or more', your status of residence can be revoked by the Ministry of Justice.
Also, with the new Immigration Act, the Ministry of Justice can revoke your status of residence under the following cases:

(5) Special permission to stay or recognition as refugee status was obtained by "deceit or other wrongful means".
(7) A person with the status of "spouse or child of Japanese national or "spouse or child of permanent resident" has failed to "engaging in activities as a spouse" for 6 months or more (except for the cases in which the foreign resident has justifiable grounds for not doing so).
(8) A foreign national who has received permission to entry and has been issued a residence card does not notify his/her place of residence within 90 days (except for the cases in which the foreign resident has justifiable grounds for not doing so).
(9) A foreign resident who move into a new place doesn't submit a "notification of moving in" to a new municipal office within 90 days after moving (except for the cases in which the foreign resident has justifiable grounds for not doing so).
(10) A foreign resident notifies a false place of residence.


Some examples of "except for the cases in which the foreign resident has justifiable grounds for not doing so" have been provided by the drafters of the legislation:

(7) Cases such as when the person concerned is in the middle of arbitration to win custody of a child with Japanese nationality.
(8) Cases such as when the person concerned becomes sick, requiring long-term hospitalization, and can't notify his/her place of residence through a proxy.
(9) Cases such as when the person concerned, because of financial distress, etc, loses the place that he/she has resided.

In these cases, status of residence will not be revoked. However, the Ministry of Justice has not yet indicated any clear standards for applying them.

Migrant women's right to stay

As written in Tab.2, row B, female migrants with the status of "spouse or child of Japanese national" or "spouse or child of permanent resident" must report to the regional immigration bureau within 14 days in the event of divorce or the death of their spouse.

Punishment for not reporting of these changes on time

Failure to report these changes within 14 days is punishable by a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen.

Furthermore, paragraph (7), which mentions her status of spouse can be revoked in the middle of her period of stay, has been added.
For example, if a female foreign national married to a Japanese man is found to have not been engaging in activities as a spouse for six months or more, the Ministry of Justice can revoke her status of residence and begin the deportation procedure. However under the revised law, in the case where the Ministry of Justice revokes her status of residence, the Ministry "shall consider giving her an opportunity" of an application for a change her status of residence to long-term resident or permanent resident.
So if her status of residence is revoked, the Ministry of Justice will notify the local government office where the woman lives, and request to delete her name from its foreign resident registration record.

The diversifying forms of "marriage"

In the modern era when forms of 'marriage' or 'married life' are becoming diverse, it is impossible for anyone to define what it means by "not engaging in activities as a spouse". In spite of this fact, the Ministry of Justice will "make a judgment after comprehensively considering" the following diverse factors: whether or not a couple is living together; if they live separately, whether or not they keep in touch (and if so how often); if and how the couple apportions responsibility for living expenses; whether or not someone is living with a third person of the opposite sex; whether a particular person is working or not; other things like the type of job, etc.
In reality though, there have been many absurd cases where as a result of "making a judgment after comprehensively considering" their case, the Ministry of Justice has refused to renew people's spousal status and deported them.


Q8
What is a residential certificate for a foreign national resident ('jumin-hyo' for a foreign national resident)?

It means that you will be registered your residency in the local government where you live in almost the same way as Japanese people.

Up until now, in order to provide administrative services and collect taxes, local governments have listed Japanese residents based on the Basic Resident Registration Act and foreign residents based on the Alien Registration Act.

Resident registration

The Basic Resident Registration Act provides Japanese nationals with residential certificates for each household. The basic resident register includes name, date of birth, and sex of the people in the household, as well as their place of residence. It gives authorities basic information in order to provide and/or determine eligibility for the following services: national health insurance, late-stage medical care system for the elderly, long-term care insurance, eligibility for national pension, payment of child allowance, register of school-aged children, public assistance, immunizations or seal registration etc.
However, until the enforcement of the revised law, the Basic Resident Registration Act hasn't been applied to foreign residents.

Residential certificate for a foreign national resident

Under the revised law you will be entered in the basic resident register. This will be applied to middle to long-term residents and special permanent residents, as well as to refugee applicants with permission for provisional stay in Japan or landing permission for temporary refuge who haven't been issued residence cards.
However, you don't have exactly the same resident registration as Japanese nationals. As per Tab.4, nationality or region, status of residence, period of stay and date of expiration of the validity period and number of your residence card are recorded on your residential certificate.

Households containing people of more than one nationality

Under the new system, multi-national households, such as families from international marriages, are displayed as one household. Until now, if a Japanese national and a foreign resident were married, the foreign spouse's information would be written in the "remarks column" of his/her Japanese partner's resident registration card. From now all members of the family are noted in the same section.


Tab.4 Comparison of residential certificates for Japanese and a foreign national resident
Residential Certificate for Japanese Residential Certificate for a Foreign National Resident
Name
Date of birth
Sex
Name of householder and relation to the person listed. If the person listed is the householder, this will be indicated.
Indication of official family registry, etc. Indication of middle to long-term resident status
- Nationality or Region
- Number of the residence card
- Status of residence
- Period of stay and date of expiration of the validity period
Date that subject became resident. Date of moving in the municipality
Place of residence
Date of submitting his/her notification of moving in and previous registered place of residence.
Registered on voter registration list - (Excluded from voter registration)
Items related to national health insurance, late-stage medical care system for the elderly, long-term care insurance, eligibility for national pension, payment of child allowance
Items related to the distribution of rice
Code of resident registration card
Items required under other government ordinances.


Q9
What is meant by deletion of the resident registration record?

This means that even though you are actually living in the municipality, your residency is deleted from the basic resident register.

Under the revised Immigration Act, a local government "must notify the Ministry of Justice immediately when it enters, deletes or revises a residential certificate for a foreign national resident." A residential certificate for a foreign national resident is entered, deleted or edited in cases such as when a notification of birth or notification of death is given to the municipality. Also, a foreign resident register may be deleted by the authority of the local government when a foreigner resident's whereabouts becomes unknown.

Deletion of a foreign resident register based on a notification from the Ministry of Justice

This article is relating to the revised Basic Resident Registration Act. In the new system, the Ministry of Justice notify a local government when there are any changes or it becomes aware of any mistakes in items of a foreign resident register.
This new provision is not meant to provide services to foreign residents, but rather is a part of the system to control foreign nationals.



Q10
What is "Deemed Re-entry permission"?

Under the revised Immigration Act, the "re-entry permission" (used for re-entering Japan after an absence of less than a year) is no longer needed.

In the previous system, you had to go to the regional immigration bureaus to get a re-entry permission every time you left Japan, for example to visit your home country or to go on a business trip. The fee for a single-use re-entry permission was 3,000 yen and a multiple-use one was 6,000 yen.
Under the new system, if you are going to leave Japan and return within a year, upon leaving Japan you inform an immigration official of this and show "your passport and residence card". This is the "deemed re-entry permission" system.
But if you are going to be out of Japan for a year or more, you still have to get re-entry permission in the same way as under the previous system.

This system doesn't apply to "stateless" people or those with "Korea ('Chosen')" nationality.

On the other hand, people with "stateless" or "Korea ('Chosen')" marked on the nationality or region column of their residence cards have a problem under the new system. The Ministry of Justice says that such foreign residents won't be handled under the "deemed re-entry permission" system because, according to the Ministry, "they don't have a proper passport".



In other words, under the revised law...

Although there are some good points, such as lengthening the maximum period of stay from 3 to 5 years and instituting the "deemed re-entry permission"system, after all this is a law that bullies foreign residents."

The revised Immigration Act creates many new duties for foreign residents. It imposes criminal penalties or revocation of status of residence as a punishment for violation. Foreign residents are made to fulfill many duties because of threat.
For example, the new law says that if you carry "your residence card", you don't have to carry your passport. However, even if you have your passport on you, if you happen to not be carrying your residence card, you will be punished for "failure to bear identification".

Under the revised law, there are also "the cases where a middle to long-term resident who has been issued a residence card stops living as a middle to long-term resident." For instance, if the Ministry of Justice judges that a foreign woman who is married to a Japanese man "has not been engaging in activities as a spouse for six months or more," her status of residence is revoked and she has to return her residence card to the Ministry within 14 days. Failure to do so will be punished by a fine of not exceeding 200,000 yen. This is a system that revokes status of residence and makes foreign residents return their residence cards under pain of criminal punishments.

This system strips foreign residents of their freedom and dignity. This law is a bad way to realize "living together ('kyo-sei')" with Japanese nationals and foreign residents. We who live in this Japanese society must remember the following:



Reports from States parties have often failed to take into account that each State party must ensure the rights in the Covenant to "all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction" (art. 2, para. 1). In general, the rights set forth in the Covenant apply to everyone, irrespective of reciprocity, and irrespective of his or her nationality or statelessness.

Thus, the general rule is that each one of the rights of the Covenant must be guaranteed without discrimination between citizens and aliens. Aliens receive the benefit of the general requirement of non-discrimination in respect of the rights guaranteed in the Covenant, as provided for in article 2 thereof. This guarantee applies to aliens and citizens alike. Exceptionally, some of the rights recognized in the Covenant are expressly applicable only to citizens (art. 25), while article 13 applies only to aliens. However, the Committee's experience in examining reports shows that in a number of countries other rights that aliens should enjoy under the Covenant are denied to them or are subject to limitations that cannot always be justified under the Covenant.

Human Rights Committee "General Statement 15"