We held a hearing at the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice concerning the Revised Immigration Act


Hearing at the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice
The Revised Immigration Act comes into effect on July 9th (Mon), 2012. Before this, APFS held a hearing at the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice on June 29th (Fri), 2012 to clarify uncertain points about how the Immigration Act will be implemented after revision.
From APFS, three staff members attended. Also, Mr. Ryoichi Hattori, a member of the House of Representatives accompanied us. From the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice Mr. Atsushi Gokan, Inspection Instructor of the Department of Immigration and Residence and other four officials responded.
Below, we are showing the outlines of the questions by APFS and the answers by the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice.

Q1.The Tokyo Immigration Bureau started its operation from June, 2012 to use ‘Intention Confirmations’ and to demand consent ‘so that the Immigration Bureau can notify the residing municipality about identity information etc.’ (as confirmed in June, 2012 at the Adjudication Department of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau). Please answer (1) on what basis, (2) according to what schedule the municipalities will be notified about ‘identity information etc.’
(1) It is based on Appendix Article 60 Section 1. It is a consideration for the utilization of administrative services by people on provisional release.
Appendix Article 60 Section 1
‘The Minister of Justice, concerning individuals who are foreign nationals residing in Japan and are not individuals residing in Japan according to the Immigration Act or the Special Residence Act but are on provisional release according to the regulations in Article 54 Section 2 of the Immigration Act and a certain period of time has passed after the actual provisional release, while implementing this law accordingly, from the perspective so that the individual will be able to utilize administrative services even after the implementation, will make additional considerations and based on the result take necessary measures to swiftly notify the residing municipality about identity information etc. by the time of the implementation.’
(2) The regional Immigration Bureau will notify the municipality once in every month by mail. The date of the permission to the provisional release is also included in the information notified.

Q2. It says that ‘the Alien Registration Card has to be returned to the Minister of Justice in three months after implementation’ (QA33-2). Also, it says that ‘please bring it to the closest regional Immigration Bureau or send it by post to the following offices’, however almost none of the people concerned know about this. If there are any concrete rules about the method of collection, please let us know.
A2. If the owner takes it to the municipality, it is also possible that the municipality accepts it and sends it to the Immigration Bureau.

Q3. A person with a period of residence ending just before the implementation of the Revised Immigration act who is currently applying for renewal of status of residence received a postcard that designated a date for receiving the stamp after the period of stay. Since receiving the stamp is scheduled after the period of stay, this person was very worried.
We assume that the procedure described above was taken because this is a transitional time to the Residence Card. Please tell us if there are any problems concerning the procedures/explanations towards people who are renewing/changing their status of residence during the transition to the Residence Card and what do you think of them.
A3. We think that particularly there are no problems.

Q4. For ‘spouses etc. of Japanese nationals’, ‘spouses etc. of permanent residents’ and ‘long-term residents’ a ‘6 months’ period of residence was introduced (QA153). Please answer about the actual cases in which a ‘6 months’ status of residence will be granted. Also, in case of people who had a status of residence at least ‘1 year’ and it was changed to ‘6 months’, it is possible that they will not be able to receive those administrative services that they have before, such as National Health Insurance etc. Please tell us what you think of this.
A4. ‘6 months’ is originally considered for people who reside for a short period.

Q5. On June 1st, 2012, the Bureau published the ‘Considerations for the decision of a 5 year period of residence (Proposal)’. For long-term residents (Notification No. 3~7), the conditions for granting ‘5 years’ include the following item: ‘individuals with certain Japanese language abilities (individuals who have undergone at least 6 months of Japanese language education at a Japanese language institution designated by the Minister of Justice, or individuals who have passed the N2 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (…))’. However, it is believed that most people do not have the time and the finances to go to Japanese language institutions or pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test level N2. If the ‘Guidelines concerning the application for permanent residency’ stay the same (there is a condition to ‘reside with the longest possible period of residence’), then actually long-term residents ((Notification No. 3~7) will have less opportunity to apply for permanent residency. What does the Bureau think about this? Also, is there a plan to revise the ‘Guidelines concerning the application for permanent residency’?
A5. For ‘long-term residents’ and other statuses of residence based on identity, we plan to engage in procedure considering ‘3 years’ as the longest for some time in case of application for permanent residency. There is no immediate plan to revise the ‘Guidelines concerning the application for permanent residency’.

Q6. We feel that with this transition municipalities are in a state of confusion (from survey results by the Tokyo Federation of Bar Associations, NGOs etc.). Even after this transition, foreign nationals will probably visit municipal counters and make inquiries, however is there a system to constantly respond to advice seeking by municipalities?
A6. There is a system. Also, explanatory meetings were held in every prefecture in April and May.

Q7. It says that ‘if an individual does not engage in activities as a spouse continuously for at least 6 months, the status of residence wil be revoked’ (QA115).
(1) Please answer clearly what ‘activities as a spouse’ actually mean.
(2) Spousal relationships are extremely private matters, so how do you intend to investigate if someone ‘does not engage in activities as a spouse continuously for at least 6 months’?
(3) There may be cases of temporary separation and later reunion too. Is it interpreted in this case too that there is no engagement in ‘activities as a spouse’ if the separate period exceeds 6 months?
A7. ‘Activities as a spouse’ refer to marriage by law. Facts will be examined and obviously it may also be considered that no status of residence will be revoked in the procedure.

Q8. Among the ‘cases in which a fair reason is accepted concerning individuals who reside but do not engage in activities as someone with a status as a spouse’ (QA138), the following answer is included: ’cases qualify which are in arbitration concerning the parental rights over the child or which are in a divorce trial concerning the responsibility of the Japanese national spouse’.
(1) For men and/or foreign nationals it is not easy to acquire parental rights, in reality there are probably many cases which are in arbitration over ‘visiting rights’. Is it safe to assume that cases which are in arbitration over ‘visiting rights’ will be considered as having a ‘fair reason’?
(2) There are divorce trials concerning DV by foreign national spouses, so is it safe to assume that cases in which the foreign national spouse denies the act of DV and does not want to divorce will be considered as having a ‘fair reason’?
A8. If it is before the divorce, it is considered similarly as having a ‘fair reason’. Cases which are considered as having a ‘fair reason’ will be shown on the Immigration Bureau website after implementation. After divorce, even if there is an arbitration of parental rights/visiting rights, it is necessary to change status of residence, since the divorce is established.

This revision is the biggest change since the enactment of the Immigration Act. We can say that information provided to actual foreign nationals is not enough and considerable confusion is expected. At APFS, we will continue to clarify any unclear point which might come up. Also, we will continue to solve problems of people concerned.