Reasons/causes for the denial of naturalization


If you ask the Legal Affairs Bureau where you filed the application why your naturalization application was denied, they will not tell you. Even if the requirements of the Citizenship Act are met, other circumstances may make naturalization impossible, and it may be difficult for the applicant to determine the reason/s themselves.

There are few publicly known cases of denial, but here are some possible reasons and causes.

  • It was determined that the duration of stay or work was short
  • Behavior was found to be poor because of the history of traffic violations or failure to fulfill tax obligations
  • Based on debt and Japanese language skills, it was determined that a stable life in the future was not likely

 Short length of stay/work history

The first reason why naturalization is not possible is the lack of length of residence or work.

Although the number of years required is stated in the law, depending on the immigration situation, your length of stay may be shorter than you anticipated. It is also easy to overlook the required years of work since this is not directly stated in the law.

In case of prolonged departure, the applicant is not considered to have maintained their continuous residence

Generally, those who have lived in Japan for more than five years are eligible for naturalization. However, if you leave Japan for two to three months, you may not be considered to have “continued to reside in Japan" as required by law.

In other words, when reviewing an application for naturalization, the examiner will assume that the period of residence begins on the day of re-entry.

Generally, the applicant must have worked in Japan for at least three years

A basic requirement for naturalization is that you can earn your own living, and one of the criteria for this is how long you have worked in Japan. Naturalization is only possible if you have worked for at least three years, except for people who are dependent on their spouse or children.

If you have worked in Japan for a shorter time, you will have to prove your assets and the income of your household and your dependents.

Not concidered to be of good moral character

Another reason why an applicant may be denied naturalization is their behavior.

The evaluation of behavior is based mainly on the “criminal record" and the “state of fulfillment of public duties”. However, many cases that would stand out as problematic in the screening can easily be considered insignificant by the applicant.

Previous traffic accidents/violations are also considered a disadvantage

When examining the applicant’s behavior, that is, whether they behave badly in daily life, it is also examined whether they have violated the Japanese Highway Code in the past. Whether you have many violations or even one traffic accident recorded by the police, that alone may be the reason why your application is rejected.

Taxes and social security contributions must be paid in full at the time of application

“Public obligations" consisting of income tax, residence tax, health insurance contributions, pension contributions, etc., must be paid in full before applying for naturalization. Any delay in payment is considered a disadvantage.

The requirements for naturalization are lower than if the applicant wishes to continue living as a foreign national – apply for permanent residence. Permanent residents are at a great disadvantage if they default even once. However, since all other circumstances are considered when reviewing an application for naturalization, there is still a good chance of approval if you make a late payment before applying.

Life conditions are not stable

In addition to the above reasons, depending on your living situation, naturalization may not be possible because of concerns about your ability to live independently in Japan for the following reasons.

A large amount of debt is detrimental when applying for naturalization

When you apply for naturalization, you must provide proof of your debt, and if the amount is high in relation to your income, it is also a disadvantage. In addition, you are unlikely to be granted naturalization if you have gone bankrupt or are in reorganization proceedings.

However, it is unlikely to be a minus if the discharge from bankruptcy was more than seven years ago or, in the case of a private reorganization, you were discharged from debt a certain period of time before filing the application. 

Low level of Japanese language proficiency

According to the law, proficiency in the Japanese language is not a requirement for naturalization. In reality, however, Japanese language proficiency that does not interfere with daily life is required for independent living in Japan. Although there are no specific standards, you should have the ability to read and write hiragana, katakana, and kanji learned in the lower grades of elementary school.

Japanese language proficiency is checked in the self-written “motive for naturalization" and the post-application interview. Therefore, it is practically impossible to pass the language test with the help of a native speaker.

Conclusion│The reasons why naturalization is not possible vary from person to person

The reasons for denial explained so far are just a few, and the reasons for not naturalizing vary from applicant to applicant.

It takes about one to two years from the time you apply for naturalization until the results are announced, and if you are denied naturalization, your time and efforts will be in vain. If you are not sure whether you can obtain Japanese citizenship or not, you should consult with an expert beforehand.