If I divorce a Japanese husband/wife in Japan, what will happen to my visa?

Updated Information https://amie-visa-chiba.com/wp-admin “Divorce and Visa procedures in Japan” dated April 25, 2024

It is not uncommon that a foreigner who has married a Japanese national and is living in Japan may end up getting a divorce due to various reasons like Japanese couples decide to get divorced. I would like to explain the procedures for divorce in Japan and whether the foreigner can continue to live in Japan after the divorce.

How can I get a divorce in Japan?

Which country’s laws apply when a foreigner who has married a Japanese national gets divorced?

Article 27 of the Act on General Rules for Legal Purposes, which governs the governing law of divorce, states that “If one of the spouses is a Japanese national who has a habitual residence in Japan, the divorce shall be governed by Japanese law.” In other words, Japanese law and civil law apply to Japanese and foreign couples residing in Japan.

If you and your spouse have agreed to a divorce, the divorce process is, normally, an agreement divorce. In an agreement divorce, you must sign the divorce papers and submit them to the mayor of the city or town.

Documents to be submitted

  1. the signed divorce paper
  2. a copy of the certificate of residence
  3. a copy of the family register if the report is made outside the permanent domicile

* For your foreign spouse,  you do not need to attach any documents to the divorce paper unless there has been a change of name or nationality.

If there are disputes regarding the divorce itself or the terms of the divorce, the divorce should be mediated by the family court or divorce court.

Can I continue to live in Japan after my divorce?

If you get divorced from your Japanese husband or wife,  you may be concerned about whether you can continue to live in Japan.

Under Japan’s Immigration Law, a foreigner must have an appropriate visa in order to continue living in Japan legally.

Permanent residents and foreign nationals who have a working visa (status of residence) such as an “Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services” visa will not be affected by divorce. They can continue to live in Japan without any problems.

 Those with “Spouse of Japanese National” or “Spouse of Permanent Resident” visas need to be careful.

 While Divorce Pending

In current practice, while the divorce is pending or while you are engaged in some activities such as negotiating a divorce or a mediation trial, you are allowed to renew your status as a ” Spouse of Japanese National” or “Spouse of Permanent Resident” or to change your status to “Long term resident” or “specified activity”.

After divorce

You must notify the Minister of Justice, practically the regional immigration bureau, within 14 days of the divorce.

If six months have passed since the divorce, your status of residence (Spouse of Japanese National or Spouse of Permanent Resident) will be revoked unless there is no justifiable reason to do so. Therefore, unless you are not allowed to change your status of residence, you will not be able to stay in Japan beyond your current period of stay.

Examples of permitted changes to other statuses of residence:

  1. If you have been married or have stayed in Japan for a long period
    → Change of status to permanent resident visa or Permanent Resident visa
  2. If you are of Japanese descent → Change to permanent resident visa
  3. if you are the person in parental authority or a custodian of a Japanese child
    → Change to a Long Term Resident visa
  4. If the your background  meets the requirements of the respective working visas
    → Change to a work visa such as an Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services” visa

For change of status of residence to permanent resident visa,

  1. You need to have lived as a spouse of Japanese national in Japan for more than 3 years.
  2. You will be examined your asset and your living condition and stability and so on.

Thus, although it depends on the conditions, you may be able to continue living in Japan after your divorce by applying for a change of status.

If you need a consulting and application for the change of status of residence, we are happy to help you. Please contact Amie Immigration Law Office.


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