Investing is no good if you get deported
A few immigration-related thoughts. Just to be clear, I'm talking about the Japanese immigration authorities, not global immigration issues. Those are well beyond the scope of this site.
I believe anyone who is here in Japan for the long-term should aim to get permanent resident status or naturalize.
You can get permanent residence after ten years here, or three if you are married to a Japanese citizen. You can naturalize after five years.
There are no negatives to permanent residence. It is better than any other visa, for the following reasons:
- It is permanent, and you won't lose it due to job loss, divorce, etc.
- Makes it easier to get loans, etc.
- (intangible, but important) Gives you more standing in society
Naturalizing is a big step because Japan requires you to give up other nationalities to become a Japanese citizen.
Since 2012 foreign residents have not needed to buy re-entry permits to leave Japan. This is a huge improvement on the previous system, where we were forced to pay the 3,000 yen (single entry) or 6,000 yen (multiple entry) fee to leave Japan.
However, for permanent residents it may make sense to buy one anyway.
I went into the local immigration office the other day. It was pretty empty, possibly because of all the changes making it less necessary for foreign residents to visit there.
I got a new passport recently, and remembered that I should maybe get my permanent resident sticker moved into my new passport. I also decided to get a re-entry permit, just in case.
Right now if you leave Japan for less than a year you can come back with your valid visa or re-entry permit.
However, if you are away for longer, on the 366th day you lose your permanent residence automatically. This is huge.
I decided paying 6,000 yen every four years or so is worth it to insure against the very low chance of me being away for more than a year. After all, we don't know what is going to happen with natural disasters, family illnesses, accidents, etc.
Losing my PR would count as a catastrophic result for me, so weighed against that 6,000 yen is trivial. I just have to remember to go in and get a new stamp every four years or so.
At the immigration office I was informed that they no longer put PR stamps in passports, so I didn't need to get that done.
Hmmm. This is good and bad. Good in that it's one less trip to the immigration office. Bad in that nosey airline employees occasionally demand to see visas when returning to Japan, and having that sticker in the passport was a handy way to show them. Now I'll have to dig out my zairyu card and explain things.
I did, however, get the re-entry permit. It cost 6,000 yen (which I had to pop out to the nearby post office to pay, as they use the stamp system, presumably to reduce the chance of corruption) and involved me filling out some ancient form that doesn't make sense any more (asks for alien registration card number, as well as my 'home' address abroad and my travel dates, which of course don't exist yet).
After about fifteen minutes and a successful defense of my refusal to fill in the more stupid bits of the form I had my shiny new multiple-entry 5-year re-entry permit and was on my way.
How about you? Do you have a re-entry permit? Do you disagree with my assessment of PR? Anyone else thinking of naturalizing? I got all the paperwork together years ago but haven't pulled the trigger yet.