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Permanent Residency or Naturalization?

It’s the season of the autumn leaves. I hope many of you enjoyed the nice autumn weather and beautiful colored leaves during the long weekend. In today’s blog, I’d like to write about “Permanent Residence” and “Naturalization” applications.

Autumn leaves at Shinsho Gokurakuji Temple

Permanent Residence

“Permanent Resident” is the most stable status of residence (visa) for a foreign resident who wants to stay in Japan while keeping his/her own nationality. Once you are granted a Permanent Resident visa, you don’t need to file an application to extend your visa any more, and there will be no regulations on the kinds of activities you can engage in while in Japan. However, you still need to renew your residence card every seven years and apply for a re-entry permit if you are planning to travel overseas for more than a year.

Who is eligible for a Permanent Residence application?

In principle, the person has to have lived in Japan for more than 10 years consecutively.

(more than 5 out of 10 years on a working visa except for “technical intern training” or “specified skilled worker (I)”). The 10-year residence requirement is, however, eased in certain circumstances (e.g. spouse of a Japanese national/a special permanent resident/ a permanent resident, those on a status of residence “Highly Skilled Professional”.) It is possible to apply for permanent residence as early as after a year of residence in Japan, if you have 80 points or more, on the Highly Skilled Professional score table. Also, please note that the period of your current status of residence has to be either 3-year or 5-year when you apply for permanent residence.

Businesses and people sponsoring the temple


“Naturalization” means becoming a Japanese national. Japan does not allow dual citizenship in principle. Therefore, the person needs to renounce his/her nationality in the naturalization process. Once you become a Japanese national, your koseki (family register) will be created and suffrage granted.

Who is eligible for Naturalization?

In general, the person has to have lived in Japan for more than 5 years consecutively, and needs work experience in Japan for more than 3 years. However, there are some cases where a person can apply for naturalization after having lived in Japan less than 5 years. (e.g. spouse of a Japanese national, those who used to be a Japanese national etc.) Japanese language proficiency is also a requirement in the naturalization application.

Night illumination at Kodaiji Temple

There are certain criteria to meet for approval and a lot of documents need to be prepared for both applications. If you are planning to apply for permanent residence or naturalization in Kyoto, or in the Kansai area, and need support from a registered immigration professional, please feel free to contact us! We can also assist with work visas, family-related visas and other immigration issues.


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