View Full Version : Same-Sex Marriage and Common Law Marriage in regards to JET Applicants

October 10th, 2014, 01:22
Hello everyone,

With same-sex marriage in the headlines again with the recent supreme court decision, I thought it would eb a good time to explain Japan's stance on same-sex marriage and common-law marriage in regards to JET. Especially since I know many people will be getting married soon in their respective states.

Lets start with common-law marriage, since that is the easiest. Japan does not recognize this. You need to be legally married on paper, and have a marriage certitifate if you want your spouse to accompany you as a dependent. It does not matter if in your state you are considered married because Japan does not care about local U.S. when it comes to marriage. So, even if you and your spouse have been together for 10 years, no paper? no dependent visa.

Japan has been getting more open in regards to LGBT rights and prejudices. Within the past few years, we have sent quite a few transgender applicants. Both M->F and F->M. As long as Japan knows ahead of time about your situation, it has never prevented anyone from participating in the program. Some JETs are very comfortable being openly gay with their coworkers and students, and some want to keep their personal lives to themselves (even with the constant barrage of prying into your life by coworkers). That is ultimately your decision. Stonewall AJET group is a big support for LGBT JETs, so definitely look into it.

Now, same-sex marriage.

Every year we get quite a few of these inquiries. As of right now (Oct. 2014) Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Japan. What does that mean for JETs? Even if you have a marriage certificate from the U.S. showing you are married, Japan will not be able to issue your spouse a dependent visa because the marriage is not considered valid. Only marriage between a man and a woman is legally recognized when it comes to visa procedures. Now, if you have successfully trans'd over from M->F and are married to a man, thats fine. It fits the M/F rule. If you are legally still considered male or female, then Japan will not recognize the same sex marriage. I know this sucks for those of you out there who want to go to Japan with your bf or gf. But as of now, the only options available to them are:

1) They can apply for JET with you and hope for a close placement

2) They can apply for a private teaching job through another company after you know your placement and hopefully be placed near by.

In the end, they will need to find their own job (meaning they need to have a bachelor's degree) in order to go with you to Japan. They will not be able to be your dependent.

Now, I am sure everyone here knows that there are always certain exceptions to the rule. Last year it was brought up that a certain American Consul was able to be in Japan with his husband/partner. Lets be realistic here, Diplomats are granted certain perks due to the nature of their job. I also once issued a visa for the fiancee of a diplomat. Under normal circumstances, this woman would not have been granted a visa. However, since it was a diplomat requesting the favor, arrangements were made. So, is there precedent for possible same-sex marriage visas in the future? Sure, but as of right now, this does not apply to 99.9% of the people in the world. Maybe sometime in the future we will be able to grant dependent visas to same-sex couples, as of right now, we cant. Make plans ahead of time with your bf/gf and plan accordingly.

TL;DR As of Oct. 2014, Japan only recognizes M/F marriage. You must be legally married to get your spouse a dependent visa. You must be married, engaged doesnt count, folks!


October 10th, 2014, 19:22
Miamicoordinator, what about the possibility of applying for a Japanese cultural studies visa? How often are these issued, and would the spouse need to have some sort of program (language classes, etc.) set up in order to receive it?

October 10th, 2014, 22:15
Miamicoordinator, what about the possibility of applying for a Japanese cultural studies visa? How often are these issued, and would the spouse need to have some sort of program (language classes, etc.) set up in order to receive it?

This is a great question TWC. I am glad you brought it up because people asked me about it when I was in the Visa Section on a daily basis.

Cultural Activities Visas are not very common. In my time in the Consular Section(11 years), I issued maybe 6 or 7 Cultural Activities visas. This is not because us as a Consulate refused to issue them, but rather it is difficult finding an organization that both fits the guidelines set by MOFA, and is willing to sponsor you. A CA visa requires a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Ministry of Justice. CoEs usually take 6-8 weeks to be processed and must be applied for by your sponsoring organization. Many people are under the impression that they can join some random Dojo, or cultural center in a town and apply for the visa. This is not the case unfortunately. An organization must have a certain number of employees, and fit other criteria for the Ministry of Justice to even consider them eligible to get a CoE for a person. I always got phone calls from people saying "I found a place willing to sponsor me" but they often times did not fit the criteria set by the government. Just because a place is willing to sponsor you, doesn't mean they can.

When it comes down to it, usually the places that are able to sponsors CoEs for CA visas are places that cost a lot of money. There is a cultural center in Kyoto(I cant remember the name now) that does this quite often. The program is very expensive though, and dependents of aspiring JETs usually cannot afford their prices. You would be hard pressed to find an organization that will be able to sponsor you without paying them for the services they offer.

Now, about languages classes. There are two main types in Japan.

1) Schools that purposely set their classes at 85/86 days so that they do not need to go though visa paperwork for their students. (Usually cheaper)

2) Schools that have classes that are 6 months/1year that will sponsor your visa, however, cost a fortune.

If a person does have the money to go to one of the schools where they will study Japanese, then great! They cannot however have a regular job in Japan as a student or a dependent. You are only allowed to work privately if you get permission from your local immigration office. (most places cap the amount of hours you work at 20-24 hours a week).

The only other option here is a "Working Holiday Visa", however this only applies to nationals from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, France, Germany, the
United Kingdom, Ireland , Denmark, and Norway and for residents of Taiwan and Hong Kong (Sorry USA!). Those of you from those countries with unmarried dependets can find more information on how to apply for that visa here: MOFA: The Working Holiday Programmes in Japan (http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday/)


October 11th, 2014, 01:17
I've met ALTs who didn't have degrees who managed to get here on cultural visas because the town had sister city relationships.....

October 11th, 2014, 02:30
I've met ALTs who didn't have degrees who managed to get here on cultural visas because the town had sister city relationships.....

City Governments would have no problem getting a CoE issued for a CA visa. The problem is, these cases are so rare. The chances of a same-couple who happen to be from a city that shares a sister-city relationship that the partner get assigned to, and happens to have a space for a special program for CA visa, well, thats a long shot.

The issue is not the CA visa itself since it is a valid visa, it is finding an organization that will sponsor your visa. You cant just call a city hall of your sister city and say "I want you to hire me with a CA visa so I can move to Japan with my significant other."

The point of this thread is to educate the general public about what will apply to the majority of the cases of applying JETs in regards to same-sex couples, not to nit pick about rare cases of people getting visas through unconventional means.