The Justice Ministry plans to revise its ministerial ordinance to make it possible for procedures regarding the residence status (see below) of some foreigners to be completed online, according to sources.
The envisaged measure is aimed at easing the burden on foreign residents and the Immigration Bureau, and the ministry intends to implement the new system from fiscal 2018. The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law stipulates that foreigners who want to renew their period of stay or change their status of residence are, in principle, required to complete an application, in person, at an Immigration Bureau office.
Exceptions are stipulated in the existing ordinance, and ministry officials are making arrangements to include new rules to allow internet applications, the sources said. If internet applications are approved, some foreigners will no longer need to visit Immigration Bureau offices.
The ministry plans to develop a system that can reject incomplete applications. This will ease the burden on staff at the Immigration Bureau by reducing clerical tasks, such as confirming the accuracy of applications.
Excluding students, temporary visitors and some others, foreign residents who work at listed companies or public organizations do not need to submit many documents when they apply for an extension to their period of stay as it is relatively easier to confirm the identity of these applicants. The ministry hopes to target the new system at this group of foreign residents, but has yet to confirm details regarding eligibility. With regard to identity confirmation, the ministry intends to provide applicants with an online ID or password and considers it an urgent task to adopt appropriate security measures to prevent fraudulent applications.
Status of residence
The government certifies foreigners’ period of stay, status and activities in Japan based on the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law. There are 27 types of status such as “highly skilled professional,” “student” and “permanent resident.” Procedures exist for changing status, period-of-stay renewals and others. The number of foreigners living in Japan for three months or more with residence status stood at 2,232,189 at the end of 2015.