Japan Revises Special Residence Permit Guidelines for Foreign Nationals

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The building that houses the Immigration Services Agency in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Immigration Services Agency released on Tuesday revised guidelines on granting special residence permit to foreign nationals subject to deportation.

Under the revised guidelines, the agency will positively consider the need to protect the interests of such foreigners’ children living with their families in Japan. The use of the revised guidelines will start when the country’s revised immigration control and refugee recognition law takes effect as early as June.

A justice minister, at his or her discretion, can grant special residence permit to foreign nationals who are subject to deportation due to reasons such as illegal residency to stay in the country as an exceptional measure by taking various factors into consideration.

As such factors, the revised immigration control and refugee recognition law, enacted last June, cites family circumstances and behavioral issues, among others.

Detailing such factors, the revised guidelines stipulate that the agency, in deciding whether to grant special residence permit, will positively consider circumstances such as children having received education in Japan for a certain period of time and parents being integrated well into society.

On the other hand, a long period of illegal stay was newly added to the guidelines as a negative factor in considering whether to give special residence permit. The agency will consider granting special residence permit if positive factors clearly outweigh negative factors, according to the guidelines.

In August last year, then Justice Minister Ken Saito showed the government’s plan to give special residence permit to foreign children who were born and raised in Japan but do not have resident status as an exceptional measure under certain conditions, such their family members having no serious criminal records.

Meanwhile, an official of the agency denied the view that the revised guidelines are intended to expand the scope of foreigners given special residence permit and that there is no change in the government’s way of deciding whether to grant the permit.