Japan: New Residency Management System

February 9, 2012

From Monday July 9 2012, a new residency management system will be in place which will apply to many foreign nationals living in Japan.

What Should I Know About the New System?

  • The current alien registration card (ARC) system will be abolished and replaced by the new system
  • New resident cards will be issued to mid- to long-term residents when granted landing permission, change of resident status and permission for extension of the period of stay.
  • The cards will carry the bearer”s basic biometric and personal information.
  • The maximum period of stay will be increased by the Japanese authorities from three years to five years.
  • A new re-entry permit system will be introduced which waives formalities for foreign nationals who leave and re-enter Japan within one year of the date of their original departure.

Who will be subject to the new residency management system?

The new residency management system will apply to all foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for the mid- to long-term with resident status under the Immigration Control Act and to foreign nationals who do not come under any of the categories below:

  1. Persons granted permission to stay for less than 3 months
  2. Persons granted “Temporary Visitor” status
  3. Persons granted “Diplomat” or “Official” status
  4. Persons recognized by the Ministry of Justice ordinance as equivalent to the foreign nationals in 1) to 3) above
  5. Special permanent residents
  6. Persons with no resident status

This means the system will apply to:

  • Foreign spouses of Japanese nationals;
  • Japanese descendants (“nikkei”), whose status of residence is “Spouse or child of Japanese National”;
  • Long Term Residents;
  • Foreign nationals working in Japan, for example as an Engineer, Intra-Company Transferee, Specialist in Humanities/International Services, or technical intern;
  • Students;
  • Permanent residents.

It will not apply to those visiting Japan for a short period of time as a tourist.

According to the Japanese authorities, foreign nationals and their dependants who are already in Japan are not required to replace their ARC cards with a new residence card by or immediately after 9th July 2012.  Mid- to long-term residents will receive their new resident cards when granted permission for an extension.  However, Permanent residents should apply for a new resident card within three years from the start of the new system.

Employers should note that the new system requires companies sponsoring foreign nationals to notify the Japanese Ministry of Justice upon termination of a mid- to long-term migrant worker”s employment.

If you have any queries regarding these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.