What is the residence status of a “long-term resident”? │ Who is eligible and what are the criteria?


One of the visas for residence in Japan is the “Long-Term Resident" visa, which is granted to persons of Japanese descent, refugees, etc. under special circumstances. The main difference from other permanent residence statuses is that it requires an extension of the period of stay.

Who are long-term residents?

Long-term residents apply for this qualification not because they have decided where they want to live and what they want to do, but because they need to go through the procedures to live a stable life in Japan.

The examination is divided into “declared long-term residents" and “non-declared long-term residents", i.e. the following persons qualify.

▼Long-term residents predesignated in the Ministry of Justice notice

New refugees, people who live mainly as Japanese but whose nationality is foreign.

▼Long-term residents to whom the Minister of Justice grants a residence permit by establishing a specific period of residence for specific reasons

Refugees who have lived as refugees for a certain period of time, foreigners who have changed their family structure and need to change their residency status.

Long-term residents predesignated in the Ministry of Justice notice

Foreigner may qualify if they are designated by the Department of Justice as a person who may be granted long-term resident status. As of October 28, 2021, they will be classified as follows.

Item 1Persons who have temporarily resided in a designated country and have been recommended to Japan by UNHCR based on their need for protection.
Item 3 and 4Japanese children, second or third-generation Japanese
Item 5Japanese children with “Japanese spouse/child" residence status, long-term residents with a residence permit of one year or longer, spouses of second/third-generation Japanese, etc.
Item 6Children dependent on Japanese or foreigners with residence permits, children dependent on a Japanese citizen or foreigner with residence permit, children dependent on Japanese or foreigners with residency status
Item 7Adopted children under 6 years of age dependent ona  Japanese citizen or foreigner with residency status
Item 8Japanese and their relatives who remained in China due to the pre-war turmoil

* Item 2 has been removed.

* Residence status refers to permanent residents, special permanent residents, long-term residents and their spouses

Long-term residents not designated in the Ministry of Justice notice

This type of qualification applies to individuals who were residents as “spouse of a Japanese" or “spouse of a permanent resident" but who, due to sudden circumstances, are no longer eligible for that status. In these cases, approval is granted individually, regardless of notification to the Ministry of Justice.

  • If you are divorced or have lost your spouse, etc.
  • If you have separated due to a deterioration of the marital relationship
  • If you take custody of a Japanese child
  • If a minor breaks off the relationship with an adoptive parent
  • If 10 years have passed since you were recognized as a refugee
  • If you have not been recognized as a refugee and a one-year period of stay has been established under the “designated activities" residence status

Differences between permanent residence and long-term residence

The only difference between a permanent resident and a long-term resident is the established length of stay.

If a foreigner passes the verification of his or her residence in Japan in the past 10 years, they can stay in Japan indefinitely as a permanent resident. A long-term resident, on the other hand, can only obtain residency status for a short period of time, usually only for 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, or 6 months, due to the urgency of the procedure.

▼If you have permanent residence

You only need to be aware of the reasons for possible termination and renew your residence permit every 7 years.

▼If you have long-term residence

You must renew your residence permit every 5 years or less and be careful not to do anything that could be considered bad behavior during the screening for renewal..

It is possible to change the residency status from long-term resident to permanent resident or apply for naturalization

If you have been granted a residence status of five years, you may apply for permanent residency just before the end of that period. If your life in Japan is stable, the paperwork for the application is more complicated, but you can also apply to become a Japanese citizen.