Can You Become a Japanese Citizen by Marrying Your Boo?

You’ve finally tied the knot with your darling Japanese sweetheart. Gokekkon omedetō gozaimasu!

Now that you’re married, you might be wondering if you can become an official citizen of Japan by saying, “I do.”

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Wait to throw your passport in the air in celebration. The path to becoming a Japanese national through marriage is somewhat complicated.

Before you can get Japanese nationality, there are still a few extra hoops you’ll have to jump through. 

We’ll break down the process and requirements so you can decide if it’s the right move for you and your new spouse. But fair warning: it involves paperwork, patience, and proving your love is the real deal. 

Can You Become a Japanese Citizen by Marrying Your Boo? 1

Naturalization Criteria for Foreign Spouses under Japan’s Nationality Law

Article 7 of Japan’s Nationality Law outlines a person’s naturalization from a foreign country. It depends on fulfilling specific conditions.

According to the law, the Minister of Justice can grant naturalization. This is regardless of the spouse not meeting the conditions outlined in items (1) and (2) of Article 5:

  • Residency in Japan for five consecutive years.
  • Being at least twenty years old and capable according to their home country’s laws.

Given that the spouse has resided in Japan for three years or more. The spouse should also currently maintain a domicile in the country.

This provision also extends to cases where the foreign spouse has been married to the Japanese national for three years or longer.

On top of that, the spouse must have established domicile in Japan for at least one consecutive year.

Requirements to Change Nationality

  • Status of Residence: Foreign spouses must have resided in Japan for at least five years.
  • Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 18 (20 before April 1, 2022) to apply.
  • Renunciation of Previous Nationality: Foreigners applying for citizenship must renounce any previous nationalities.
  • Timely Declaration for Dual Nationals: Those with foreign nationality must declare what they choose by age 22. They have two years to decide after obtaining foreign citizenship when they turn 20.

    Failure to declare may lead to automatic loss of Japanese nationality.”

How to Apply for Japanese Citizenship After Getting Married

Marry a Japanese National 

A foreign national must marry a Japanese national to become a naturalized Japanese through marriage. Japan recognizes both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages.

Japan must recognize your marriage. This means you must register your marriage with your local government office.

Live in Japan for a Minimum Period

Once married, you must have a domicile in Japan for at least three years before applying.

During this time, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and society. Learn the language, customs, and local values to show your commitment to Japan.

Meet Income and Tax Requirements 

To qualify, a person of foreign nationality must be able to secure a livelihood, have a stable income, and pay taxes in Japan for at least three years.

The specific income requirements depend on your family situation. Aim to maintain an income that allows your family to live according to average Japanese living standards.  

Pass Exams on Japanese Language and Culture

Before approving your change of nationality application, Japan will test your language ability. It will also gauge your knowledge of Japanese culture, politics, and daily life.

You’ll need to pass an interview and written exam on these topics. Study hard to prove your enthusiasm for integrating into Japanese society.

Meet Good Conduct Requirements

Japan conducts a background check on all applicants applying for a change of nationality.

You must show that you are of good moral character with no criminal record. Minor offenses are usually overlooked. But violent crimes, drug offenses, or fraud will likely disqualify you. Maintain a clean record and be a model resident in Japan.

Dedication and hard work can help you fulfill the requirements to be a naturalized Japanese after marriage. Enjoy all the rights and benefits of a natural-born Japanese and a lifetime of adventures in your new home country!

The Naturalization Process and Timeline for Spouses

Gather the Necessary Documentation  

You must provide official documents. You need it to prove your relationship before you can apply for Japanese nationality through marriage. This includes your marriage certificate, photos of you together, proof of shared finances, etc.

You’ll also need your and your spouse’s official IDs, like passports.

Meet the Residency Requirement

In most cases, you must be married to a Japanese national and domiciled in Japan for five years to qualify for a change of nationality.

The exact period depends on factors like whether you have kids together. Start gathering evidence of your cohabitation in Japan. Collate utility bills, lease agreements, or letters from neighbors.

File the Proper Application

Once you’ve met the residency requirement, you can start the application for naturalization.

You must submit the necessary forms to your local municipal office. This includes an application, questionnaire, and other supporting documents.

The process can take 6-18 months. This includes background checks, interviews, and sometimes a naturalization exam.  

Attend the Interview and Exam

You will be interviewed once your application is accepted. Authorities will test the authenticity of your marriage. They will also assess your understanding of the Japanese language and culture.

You may also need to pass a naturalization exam on Japan’s history, geography, laws, and economy.

Study beforehand. With patience and perseverance, you can become a Japanese citizen.

But remember, naturalization is a privilege, not a right. So, do your part to build a genuine life in Japan and embrace the culture. If you do so, citizenship should follow. Ganbatte!

Can You Become a Japanese Citizen by Marrying Your Boo? 2

Benefits of Becoming a Japanese Citizen Through Marriage

Application and Documentation

To become a naturalized Japanese citizen through marriage, you must apply for naturalization. Go to your local Legal Affairs Bureau office to process this.  

You’ll need documents proving your identity, marriage, and residence in Japan. This typically includes passports, marriage certificates, and residence cards. If you have children, submit their birth certificates as well.  

Residence Requirement

To qualify, you must have lived in Japan for at least five years as a Permanent Resident. 

During this time, take steps to assimilate into Japanese culture. Learn the language and customs. Establishing strong community ties will strengthen your application.

Interview and Exam

Once accepted, you’ll go through an interview. This will determine if you meet the naturalization requirements.  The interviewer will test your language ability. The officer will check your knowledge of Japanese culture and commitment to Japan.  

Be prepared to discuss how you take part in your local community.  You’ll also take a naturalization exam covering Japanese history, culture, and daily life.  Study to pass!

Oath of Allegiance

If approved, you’ll attend an oath-taking ceremony where you pledge allegiance to Japan.  Once you take the oath, you are a Japanese national!  You’ll receive a Certificate of Naturalization to prove your new citizenship.  

The naturalization process takes 6-18 months.  While waiting, continue improving your Japanese language skills. Learn more about Japanese culture and history.  

With patience and preparation, you’ll become a Japanese citizen in no time. You can then start a new chapter of life with your partner!

Challenges and Obstacles:

Becoming Japanese through marriage can be fraught with challenges and obstacles. It ranges from bureaucratic hurdles to cultural adjustments.

Let’s discuss some potential roadblocks that applicants may encounter along the way.

  1. Language Barriers: For many applicants, one challenge is the language barrier. Japanese language skills are only sometimes a relaxed rule for marriage-based visa applications.

    But it can be challenging. This is especially true when dealing with official documentation and communication with authorities.

  2. Complex Bureaucratic Procedures: The bureaucratic process of obtaining citizenship can be intricate. It is also time-consuming.

    You need to gather the necessary paperwork to navigate various government offices. Because of these, applicants may grapple with a maze of regulations and procedures.

  3. Legal and Financial Requirements: You may face challenges in legal and financial requirements.
    Demonstrating a stable income to prove a genuine marital relationship may become problematic.

    Applicants must meet a range of criteria set forth by Japanese immigration authorities.

  4. Integration into Japanese Society: Cultural assimilation and integration can also pose difficulties.

    Adapting to Japanese customs, norms, and societal expectations may need time and effort. This is particularly true for individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

To overcome these challenges, applicants should seek guidance from reputable immigration consultants. They should contact legal experts specializing in Japanese immigration law.

Investing time in language study and cultural immersion can ease integration.

Case Studies

I talked to a few couples to get more insights into the process of acquiring citizenship. I also wanted to know the adjustments they had to make.

These couples successfully navigated acquiring Japanese citizenship through marriage. 

  • The Yamamoto Family
    Hiroki was born in Japan, and Emily was from the United States. They encountered significant hurdles when pursuing Japanese nationality through marriage.

    Emily struggled with the language barrier and found the bureaucratic procedures daunting.  Despite these challenges, the couple persevered with determination.

    They sought help from a reputable immigration attorney. The attorney guided them through the process.

    Meticulous organization and patience helped a lot. They compiled the necessary documentation and fulfilled the legal requirements.

    Their dedication paid off as they obtained Japanese nationality.

    Reflecting on their journey, the Yamamotos noted the importance of seeking professional guidance. Maintaining resilience in facing obstacles also helped.

  • The Suzuki Family
    A blend of cultural adjustments and familial support marked Kenji and Mei Suzuki’s journey.
    Mei, from China, struggled to adapt to Japanese customs and societal expectations.

    But, with Kenji’s support and the help of their extended family, she acclimated to her new environment.

    The Suzukis emphasized the significance of open communication. They also said having mutual respect is vital in overcoming cultural differences.

    The Suzukis successfully faced the challenges of cross-cultural marriage. They did it by fostering a supportive family environment. They also respected and valued individual identities.

    Reflecting on their experience, Kenji and Mei emphasized the importance of open communication. They also said mutual respect must be maintained within the family unit.

Not all Marriages have Happy Endings

There are instances when spouses lose Japanese nationality.

In Saitama, Japan, a foreign national lost the citizenship he obtained through marriage to a Japanese citizen.

Investigations uncovered evidence suggesting that the marriage was orchestrated. It was done to exploit the citizenship acquisition process, constituting a case of immigration fraud.

As a result, Japanese authorities annulled the acquired nationality. They initiated legal repercussions for the individual implicated in the fraudulent activity.

Because of this, another question emerged.

But what happens when, at the time of birth, a child is born to a Japanese mother before the father acquires Japanese nationality?

Japan has laws protecting children.

Children born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a father who is not a Japanese national may acquire Japanese nationality at birth. 

Given that the father’s country of nationality follows the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood). It then recognizes the child’s Japanese nationality. But, the procedures and requirements may vary depending on the father’s country of nationality laws.

Can You Become a Japanese Citizen by Marrying Your Boo? 3

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Japanese Citizen by Marrying Your Boo

You’ll gain many of the same rights and privileges as your native-born Japanese spouse. This includes the right to vote, access to government services, and unrestricted travel within Japan.

You can also apply for and obtain Japanese passport. This gives you visa-free entry to 189 countries worldwide.  

Residency and Work Permits No Longer Needed

As a Japanese citizen, you won’t need visas, residency, or work permits to live and work in Japan. 

This provides more stability and flexibility in Japan. You don’t have to worry about renewing various permits.

Being a national of Japan allows you to change jobs. You can even open your own business without restrictions.  

Tax Benefits 

Japanese citizens pay lower taxes compared to foreign residents. As a citizen, you’ll pay residential tax based on your income like other Japanese nationals.

You’ll also qualify for certain tax deductions and exemptions reserved for citizens. The inheritance and gift tax rates are also more favorable for citizens.

Easier Access to Housing and Financing

Purchasing property and obtaining loans are typically easier for citizens than foreign residents.

You’ll have more options for mortgages and financing with lower interest rates. Renting an apartment is also less complicated for citizens who don’t need a guarantor.

Becoming a naturalized Japanese citizen through marriage offers both practical and emotional benefits.

You’ll gain security and stability in Japan with more privileges and rights. At the same time, citizenship signifies your commitment to Japan and your spouse.

While the process requires time and patience, the rewards are well worth the effort.