four years and counting

It is now four years ago since I started this blog after getting the wonderful news that there was a little one growing inside my beautiful wife’s belly. And what four years it has been. Then I was living in Tokyo on a one year visa together with my wife in a small small one room apartment. Now I am the father of a little boy full of energy and joy of life, living in a house in the outskirts of Fukuoka, and just the other day I went to the Immigration Bureau to receive my permanent residence card.

The Immigration Bureau experience in Fukuoka has been something quite different than the one in Tokyo. While the old immigration building in Tokyo is situated on an isolated dock land island and is a full day experience with a lot of people, queueing and waiting, the office in Fukuoka is very central, quite new, with few people waiting and quick and kind reception. Three years ago I got a three year extension of my spouse visa, so this year I had to apply again and this time, in addition to an extension, we also decided to apply for a permanent residence visa now that I have been living here married for five years.

The extension application was not so complicated, requiring only the same basic but updated information and documents we submitted three years ago. We applied in July and it only took two weeks before I could go and receive a new five year extension of my visa. The application for permanent residency was a completely different matter however, and brought back memories of the amount of paperwork we had to do when we had gotten married and applied for a spouse visa the first time.

Receiving a permanent visa means no more need for regular extension applications and reviews, as well as being able to do things that would otherwise be difficult or impossible, like owning a house. The application process therefore is quite extensive, with so many documents to submit. We had to request documents from the time we were living in Tokyo, and had to go to different government offices here in Fukuoka to receive printouts. The processing time was said to be between four and six months and promised to include requests for additional documents during the way, so after handing in all the paperwork in July, we started a long wait. Or so we thought.

Quite quickly we got a letter asking for a few supplementary documents. We collected them, sent them and some time thereafter we were asked for an additional piece of information that we provided. Then the other day, only three months after we applied, I got a postcard informing me I could come to the immigration office to collect my new residence card.

The lady at the reception met me with a よかったですね when she saw my postcard, meaning something like good for you, that’s great to hear. And I must say I was both very happy and relieved, and very very grateful. A heartfelt thank you to my wonderful wife who made this whole process possible, and to Japan for welcoming me as a permanent resident.

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2 thoughts on “four years and counting”

  1. Congratulations to the permanent residence permission! But what about citizenship? In Sweden a person who has been registered as an inhabitant for three years can vote in local and regional elections, without being a citizen. Are you allowed to vote in Japanese elections?

    1. Thank you! I have been wondering the same thing, but as far as I understand it I don’t think I will be able to vote any time soon…

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