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I am wondering about the process of getting Japanese citizenship and how long it generally takes.

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Visa Application Services >  Visa application Q&A > how long it generally takes.
I am wondering about the process of getting Japanese citizenship and how long it generally takes.
Let’s start with the time aspect.

Unlike visa applications which usually have a general time frame and deadlines naturalisation takes as long as it needs to. The main factors that affect this are mainly things like age of applicant, and how long it takes for you to gather documents from your country of nationality.

From our experience it usually takes about 1 year, however, due to covid-19 making it difficult to schedule in person interviews, there is a current trend of around 1.5-2 years.

Therefore, if you are intending to apply on behalf of a child, it is best to do this before they turn 13. This is because after 15 paperwork. This is because there are some documents children do not have to submit. But should they turn 15 even after the application has been submitted it is not unlikely for these additional documents to be asked for.

These include, the outline of past (履歴書) and reason for applying (動機書) which needs to be written in the applicant’s own handwriting. These are not required for under 15s.

Now I want to talk give a brief outline of the process. For simplicity I am going to separate the process in to two main stages. The application and the screening. The first stage comprises of many little steps from when you have your first consultation at your local legal affairs bureau to when your application is accepted.

When it comes to taking up time, logically the first thing that comes to mind is gathering documents. If you thought applying for permanent residence required a lot of documents you might want to take a seat when I tell you that compared to naturalisation permanent residence paperwork is like a walk in the park.

Mostly, the documents that are likely to take a while or be difficult to source are those from your country of nationality. These involve things like your birth certificate all the way to documents proving your relationship with brothers or sisters. It is for this reason that it isn’t unheard of the first step to take up to 6 months to a year., especially where the applicant is doing the process by themselves without using an immigration lawyer (行政書士).

Obviously, it is important to note that documents acquired from overseas are only valid for up to 6 months so this might lead to having to reacquire certain documents. Further, the legal affairs bureau are very exact about paperwork and this may lead to your application not being accepted for a long time while you gather documents and fix any problems they find. Once your application has been accepted… we wait.

Now for the screening. As I have said above this stage is mainly waiting. Waiting to be called for additional interviews and then waiting for the final result. the examiner may come to your house for a visit. Other people may be interviewed but this is totally up to the examiner.

If you are applying as the spouse of a Japanese national then it would be fair to say the chances of them being called for an interview are practically 100%, especially in Tokyo. They may get by only talking over the phone but it is best to assume they will be called in for a formal interview. Other than that, all the people you live with may be called up. Especially if they are of working age. They will usually be asked about their opinion regarding you wanting to gain Japanese nationality.

Also, as they will have to submit copies of their bank transactions this may also be asked about. Especially, in the case of large money moving about.

The main thing asked about in these interviews is making sure that you or your family are not lying, i.e., your answers line up with what you have submitted in your application form and also if there are large sums of money moving, why is this moving. Obviously if there is a proper reason then this shouldn’t be a problem. For example, buying a house or car etc.

The last stage is results. If your permission is granted your details will be published in the official gazette (官報) and about a week or 10 days later you will receive a call from the legal affairs bureau to pick up your approval paper and proof of new nationality. After this the main things are; creating your new family register or if you applied as the spouse of a Japanese national joining onto your spouse’s, returning your residence card, which must be done within 14 days and changing your name on your bank, applying for a passport, etc.

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