Unfortunately, same-sex marriage has not been legalized in Japan yet even though the number of countries legalizing the same-sex marriage has been increasing globally.
Therefore, visa status based on civil status as “spouse” is not be applicable to same-sex spouses.
However, there is a possibility to bring your same-sex spouse if both of your countries legalize same-sex marriage and you and your spouse registers marriage officially and lawfully in each of your countries.
IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH VISA PROCEDURES IN JAPAN, JUMP TO INTRODUCTORY PAGES BELOW FIRST:
IN CASE of SAME-SEX MARRIAGE with JAPANESE
It is a pity that Same-sex Marriage has still not been legalized in Japan yet. Foreign same-sex spouse basically cannot apply for SPOUSE of JAPANESE NATIONAL visa status since the same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Japan.
Therefore, there is no other way to obtain FOR WORK visa status if you live would like to live together with a Japanese spouse under same-sex marriage for a long term. There is a few case that the Japan Immigration Office has approved a visa status as Long-term Resident (定住者,Teiju-sha) by the Special Permission to Stay in Japan (在留特別許可). According to the decision of the Immigration Office, they granted him/her the visa status not based on the actual (same-sax) marriage to a Japanese national, but based on the comprehensive consideration of his/her situation spending 20 years or more in Japan. We should note that this doesn’t mean that the Japanese government allows the spouse a visa based on the same-sex marriage with a Japanese national. So, it would be difficult to get approved if the period of stay in Japan is not long enough to convince the immigration office of your eligibility for LONG-TERM visa status in this case. In case you are currently on FOR WORK type visa status, it is ok to marry to a Japanese national under law of your country even though you cannot register the marriage in Japan. We hope the Japanese Government will officially legalize same-sex marriage to Japanese nationals and will open visa options to same-sex couples.
(Revised on December 1st, 2023)
Through a lawsuit of a same-sax spouse legitimately married to a Japanese national in the US, the Immigration Office has granted non-prescribed “Designated Activities (特定活動・告示外)” to the same-sex spouse in March, 2023.
Therefore, as the same as the case of same-sax marriage with non-Japanese, a same-sax spouse married to a Japanese national has a chance to obtain “Designated Activities” in case that the marriage is legitimated in the spouse’s country and the couple is able to prove their relationship as a married couple.
Please check “IN CASE of SAME-SEX MARRIAGE with NON-JAPANESE“.
IN CASE of SAME-SEX MARRIAGE with NON-JAPANESE
Different from the case above, the Japan Immigration Office grants non-Japanese same-sex couple a visa if the couple is legally married in each country and one of the couple has been living in Japan under a FOR WORK visa status already.
Basically, spouse of FOR WORK visa holder is applicable to DEPENDENT visa status in case of different-sex marriage. However, in case of a couple on the same-sex marriage, the spouse have to apply for visa status called DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION (告示外特定活動).
Application for DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION (告示外特定活動) have to be made while the applicant is staying in Japan. Furthermore, DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION (告示外特定活動) is not subject to the COE (Certificate of Eligibility) application, so he/she must come to Japan under 90-days Temporary Visitor visa first to apply for CHANGE of VISA STATUS from TEMPORARY VISITOR to DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION and must process it during the stay in Japan. For the application, his/her spouse holding a work-related visa should be the guarantor and supporter.
If you wish to apply for FOR WORK type visa to work in Japan and live together with your same-sex spouse in Japan; you must apply for COE first. After your COE is issued, you will enter Japan with the COE and your spouse comes to Japan together with you as TEMPORARY VISITOR with 90 days of period of stay. Then, your spouse applies for CHANGE of VISA STATUS from TEMPORARY VISITOR to DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES after you receive your RESIDENCE CARD and settle down somewhere in Japan. Of course, you can invite your spouse some months later after you start working and living in Japan.
For the application, it is important to certify legal marriage registered in each country of the same-sex couple as well as to explain background of marriage and actual married life. It would be highly possible to be denied if the period of marriage is short and/or the actual married life is not acknowledged. Necessary documents for the application would be different depending on the circumstances and/or nationality of the couple etc., we would highly recommend to apply for it through a professional.