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View Full Version : Those who have or plan to travel with a partner, but not a spouse...thoughts?



Ozreth
March 31st, 2016, 04:38
Having recently become engaged my fiance is planning on coming with me to Japan. We are aware that she is not eligible for a dependent visa or benefits. She works remotely so income for her is not an issue, and she plans on finding a second job in Japan to secure a visa while on a 3 month tourist Visa. I e-mailed my consulate about this and was told that it does not affect making the list (and it turns out that was true, as I was short-listed) and that in the end it is up to my CO as to whether or not she will be able to live with me in my home due to certain taboos in parts of the country. However, while filling out my reply form, "Accompanied by a partner" was an option.
This has me worried that they may not actually be able to find me a placement. Does anybody else have any information or experience on this topic? Thanks!

word
March 31st, 2016, 15:17
Having recently become engaged my fiance is planning on coming with me to Japan. We are aware that she is not eligible for a dependent visa or benefits. She works remotely so income for her is not an issue, and she plans on finding a second job in Japan to secure a visa while on a 3 month tourist Visa. I e-mailed my consulate about this and was told that it does not affect making the list (and it turns out that was true, as I was short-listed) and that in the end it is up to my CO as to whether or not she will be able to live with me in my home due to certain taboos in parts of the country. However, while filling out my reply form, "Accompanied by a partner" was an option.
This has me worried that they may not actually be able to find me a placement. Does anybody else have any information or experience on this topic? Thanks!


Are you from the US? I'll assume you are.

The "3 month tourist visa" is not a visa at all; it's a sort of temporary pass. If your SO plans on finding a job that will sponsor her for an employment visa, she'll need to leave the country in order to get it. Changing a temporary visitor pass to a visa of any kind while within Japan is technically prohibited by law (although there is an odd exception for "extraordinary circumstances"--but qualifying for this exception is not certain and involves a great deal of paperwork + trips to immigration (and involves the risk of the application being rejected)).

Take it from someone who did this with his SO. I've done all this. It sucks. She came over here as my fiancee on the visitor pass, we did a Korea run once, then got married and did all the f*cking paperwork to apply for the technically prohibited conversion... and trust me on this--it was a massive pain in the arse. I do not recommend it.

Get married now. Just do it on paper or something, in secret, just to get her the dependent visa. Just do it. Sign a prenup if you're worried about complications. You can always get divorced later if it doesn't work out (I've seen three ALT couples divorce in my time here). It won't be that bad.

As far as housing goes--yeah it just depends. It is very unlikely that you won't be placed somewhere. I lived with MG unmarried for like six months, and nobody cared in the slightest. It sucked though because our house was a shoebox very clearly designed for one person who had no possessions and no friends.

BifCarbet
March 31st, 2016, 22:31
Get married now. Just do it on paper or something, in secret, just to get her the dependent visa. Just do it.

Word. 100% second this.

Ebi
March 31st, 2016, 23:15
Getting married on paper really does seem to be the best way. I know at least one ALT couple who did it in secret and then had a wedding back home post-JET.

Lots of Japanese people do it that way too. It's very common to change the family register while you're "engaged", which is what legally binds you as a married couple, then have the wedding ceremony months later.

It just makes everything easier when dealing with any kind of bureaucratic process. As a spouse, I can vouch or stand in for my husband and vice versa whenever we need to apply for services or deal with paperwork. It's been more useful than I thought. (My spouse isn't a JET or foreign national though so I can't comment on how that experience though.)

word
April 1st, 2016, 00:45
Getting married on paper really does seem to be the best way. I know at least one ALT couple who did it in secret and then had a wedding back home post-JET.Yep. This is ultimately what MG and I did, too. We have a secret "wedding anniversary" that almost nobody else knows about; we celebrate it together every year, which is romantic as f*ck.


It just makes everything easier when dealing with any kind of bureaucratic process. As a spouse, I can vouch or stand in for my husband and vice versa whenever we need to apply for services or deal with paperwork. It's been more useful than I thought. (My spouse isn't a JET or foreign national though so I can't comment on how that experience though.)This, so much. This kinda crap all becomes a lot easier when you separate it from the emotional components. It's just paperwork. Play the bureaucratic games; follow the rules. Your relationship is not defined by Japanese paperwork. Use said paperwork to your advantage, though, and make your life a hell of a lot easier.

patjs
April 5th, 2016, 00:00
Also keep in mind that saying "she'll find a job once we're there to get a visa" is easier said than done.

I would take all of word's advice. I went through this with my successor as well. They wanted to try to do this same thing (have her come unmarried) but in the end they realized it's a giant pain and really kind of risky, so they got married on paper at home.

Gizmotech
April 5th, 2016, 01:46
I know a couple that broke up because the "they'll get a juku/eikaiwa english teaching job easily" idea failed spectacularly... and while two people CAN live on jet salary, it's not particularly comfortable, especially if you want to maintain social connections.

shanshan310
April 5th, 2016, 21:52
I've just been shortlisted and was playing on doing it with my partner. He works as a freelancer online, although I am a little worried about how we'll get by if he can't keep doing that because of internet problems or something. We were plannng on going down the working-holiday visa route. Does that seem doable? I'd rather not have to run and get married before submitting my acceptance form.

Ozreth
April 6th, 2016, 01:03
I've just been shortlisted and was playing on doing it with my partner. He works as a freelancer online, although I am a little worried about how we'll get by if he can't keep doing that because of internet problems or something. We were plannng on going down the working-holiday visa route. Does that seem doable? I'd rather not have to run and get married before submitting my acceptance form.

I don't know much about the working holiday visa as it is unfortunately not an option for people from the U.S. That being said, a bigger concern than the visa might be whether or not he can live with you if you aren't married, as it seems many CO's will not allow it. That's kinda the problem we're looking at, but we are now considering getting married on paper now and having the ceremony later on.

word
April 6th, 2016, 14:03
I've just been shortlisted and was playing on doing it with my partner. He works as a freelancer online, although I am a little worried about how we'll get by if he can't keep doing that because of internet problems or something. We were plannng on going down the working-holiday visa route. Does that seem doable? I'd rather not have to run and get married before submitting my acceptance form.It's doable if you're from a country that allows it (not the US).

The freelance game is not an easy one--it might be doable if you're from Australia, but UK or US? Not so much. Internet connectivity isn't a problem; odds are your connection will be a hell of a lot faster, cheaper, and more reliable here than back home. The time difference is the real killer. I know a US couple who tried it, after a while, they both hated the arrangement. He was essentially having to work all night while she worked during the day--obviously that's not gonna make for a healthy life. He later tried to set up some sort of marketing company, but that didn't really go anywhere, either (to my knowledge--the company still exists but I dunno if he's making any money off of it, and the whole thing sounded like a scam to me, anyway). He's teaching English now.


I don't know much about the working holiday visa as it is unfortunately not an option for people from the U.S. That being said, a bigger concern than the visa might be whether or not he can live with you if you aren't married, as it seems many CO's will not allow it. That's kinda the problem we're looking at, but we are now considering getting married on paper now and having the ceremony later on.If you're willing to find your own housing, your CO won't really have much of a say in the matter (although they might decide not to recontract you).

I still highly recommend the "get married on paper" route. It's way easier in the long run. And in the short run, actually.

shanshan310
April 8th, 2016, 21:36
Thanks for the advice both of you :)

I'd rather not cause trouble for the CO and lose out on a subsidy but having looked into Australian marriage laws it appears that there's no way to get married on paper here :/ Need to have a ceremony with vows read aloud and witnesses and a celebrant etc. Sigh. We could do a little crappy marriage but that seems somehow a bit disappointing. Still need to think it over a bit I think...


Anyway, for now I need to submit the reply form stating whether or not I will be bringing a spouse. Should I submit it as 'no' and then update them, or 'yes' even though the paper work might not come through for a couple of months?

word
April 9th, 2016, 00:49
If you're from Australia, I think you have the option of a working holiday visa. That might be able to be changed to a working visa (not certain on this point) if your SO is able to find a job.

Might as well just say "no" to the spouse question--you can always show up with a legally married spouse and be all like, "What? We fell madly in love!" Might hafta put up with a small house for a little while, but they probably won't punish you for it.

krayziesensei
April 12th, 2016, 13:08
You CAN get a working visa in Japan while on a tourist visa without leaving the country. How do I know this? My girlfriend and I did. My long-time girlfriend came to visit me and we had planned on her just staying for a few months and then going home, but a job fairly close to where I live came up in a local JET group and my gf got it. The whole time we were expecting her to have to go back to the US to get her visa, but that wasn't the case. As far as I could tell (my Japanese isn't perfect) it used to be the case that you had to leave the country for the visa thing, but that has changed. I would definitely do more research before coming.

word
April 12th, 2016, 15:13
You CAN get a working visa in Japan while on a tourist visa without leaving the country. How do I know this? My girlfriend and I did.Yeah, I did the same thing; read above. It's not particularly easy and it's not something I'd recommend.


As far as I could tell (my Japanese isn't perfect) it used to be the case that you had to leave the country for the visa thing, but that has changed.No, it has not changed. It's just that there's an odd "exception" for "extraordinary circumstances." Most Japanese laws are written in this way--allowing for exceptions when it's in everyone's best interests to do so. Couples seeking to take advantage of this exception should feel free to do so, but understand that it carries with it the risk of one's application being denied. Why take the chance? (unless you're a dumbass like me or krayzi)

krayziesensei
April 15th, 2016, 09:38
I don't know what you're talking about, Word. Are situation seems very different. We're not married and we didn't have to leave the country. It also wasn't that much of a headache. Just a few runs to the city hall. Like I said, check into it.

uthinkimlost?
April 15th, 2016, 09:49
I don't know what you're talking about, Word. Are situation seems very different. We're not married and we didn't have to leave the country. It also wasn't that much of a headache. Just a few runs to the city hall. Like I said, check into it.

He's saying it is entirely dependent on the person on the other side of the counter, and that they are under no obligation to help you. You are at their mercy, and if you had had a sh!t at the City Hall, you would have had a bad time. You were lucky, and there is no guarantee that anyone else showing up would share your good fortune or gaijinSMASH ability.

word
April 15th, 2016, 12:02
He's saying it is entirely dependent on the person on the other side of the counter, and that they are under no obligation to help you. You are at their mercy, and if you had had a sh!t at the City Hall, you would have had a bad time. You were lucky, and there is no guarantee that anyone else showing up would share your good fortune or gaijinSMASH ability.

This.

There's almost no immigration law in Japan that can't be relatively easily--and quite legally--bypassed by a competent bureaucrat who's willing to do so.

Assuming that you'll find such an individual is definitely a gamble. If someone is interested in playing the odds, more power to 'em. I just don't recommend it.

Edit: Also, not sure where you're placed, but if a JET ends up in the inaka like me, "a few runs to city hall" aren't exactly a fun thing to be doing. My prefecture's immigration office is over three hours away by car, probably an entire day by train.

krayziesensei
April 15th, 2016, 13:35
I hate that I feel like I'm arguing with you about this, Word. I got a lot of good advice from you in the application process. That said, if you find a job in Japan while on a tourist visa, the only reason you would have to leave is if your Certificate of Eligibility wasn't received before your visa expired. Things have changed. Also, your new employer should help you through the process. Whoever is planning to do this, don't take our word for it. Take a look at Japan's immigration site and figure out if things would work out in your particular situation. Rushing into a marriage seems like a very drastic step. Although, if you're pretty sure you're going to anyway, go for it. It surely will make things easier.

webstaa
April 15th, 2016, 14:05
As far as the "runs to the immigration bureau" go, I'm in close to the same boat as Word was. It's 2-3 hours away by car or 3ish by car and train - which makes it a full days worth of work to "run down" there. There are worse placements than me as well - the town on the far end of the prefecture would be about 4 hours of travel (one way) to get to the immigration center for the prefecture. (I don't know if they can go to the next prefecture over's office - that's less than an hour's drive for them.)

krayziesensei
April 15th, 2016, 15:36
People seem to be focusing a lot on this travel time thing. For us, it was a 1 hour and a half drive one-way. A day of travelling 2-3 times is a hell of a lot better than needing to travel all the way to another country to get your work Visa. It's also a hell of a lot better than rushing into a marriage IMO. But to each their own.

Ini
April 15th, 2016, 16:46
You can go to any immigration centre you like. I always go to Sendai as they seem less racist up there. I feel there may be some exaggerations going on with these travel times. 3 hours of driving will take you across 2-3 prefectures if you don't drive like an old lady.

word
April 15th, 2016, 18:29
I live in a large, very rural prefecture. At the time I did this, I lived in a particularly inaka little village in it. It took me almost an hour just to get to the nearest expressway entrance, then an additional two hours from there to one of two immigration offices, both about the same distance from me.

If the law has changed, kraz, I'm certainly not aware of it. I'm no expert at immigration law in Japan, though. Still, it wasn't *that* long ago that MG and I went through all this. And, sure, realistically, it wasn't *that* hard--we didn't have to write an essay (in Japanese) explaining our "extraordinary circumstances" in detail (the law states this must be provided to the immigration office upon request), the paperwork was intense but doable, but it was nerve-wracking to know that if our particular immigration officer decided to be a d*ck about it, MG's app could have been denied, and she'd have been forced to leave the country. It was a gamble, and it worked out for us, but if you're planning on getting married anyway, why risk it?

I'm probably biased, though, because I wouldn't move to Japan with someone I wasn't willing to marry.

Cheese
April 16th, 2016, 00:28
I wouldn't move to Japan with someone I wasn't willing to marry.

Word

webstaa
April 16th, 2016, 08:11
3 hours of driving will take you across 2-3 prefectures if you don't drive like an old lady.

Or like a cheap-ass ALT who won't get on the toll-road.

shanshan310
April 19th, 2016, 22:29
So is it worth emailing my local embassy's JET coordinator asking about this, or do you reckon that might not be a great look at this stage? I am mildly concerned that I might not get a placement if I start kicking up a fuss and asking if living with an unmarried partner is okay this early in the process.

Shincantsen
April 19th, 2016, 22:50
So is it worth emailing my local embassy's JET coordinator asking about this, or do you reckon that might not be a great look at this stage? I am mildly concerned that I might not get a placement if I start kicking up a fuss and asking if living with an unmarried partner is okay this early in the process.

Your JET Coordinator can give you advice, but they're not going to be able to do anything for you practically. Whether or not you can live with someone is up to your contracting organization/landlord, not your consulate or CLAIR.

mothy
April 19th, 2016, 23:05
When I went on JET I asked my JET coordinator about my situation. They were completely useless but acted like the nonsense they spieled made sense.

I guess sometimes it's good to move forward, right or wrong.

Ozreth
April 20th, 2016, 02:21
So is it worth emailing my local embassy's JET coordinator asking about this, or do you reckon that might not be a great look at this stage? I am mildly concerned that I might not get a placement if I start kicking up a fuss and asking if living with an unmarried partner is okay this early in the process.

Yeah don't do that, there's no point because your consulate can't tell you anything. Wait for your placement and then talk to your pred and see what they think and then talk to your CO and/or landlord. It's up to them. Then cross whatever bridge then put in front of you when you get there.

krayziesensei
April 21st, 2016, 15:22
So is it worth emailing my local embassy's JET coordinator asking about this, or do you reckon that might not be a great look at this stage? I am mildly concerned that I might not get a placement if I start kicking up a fuss and asking if living with an unmarried partner is okay this early in the process.
I know this isn't a popular thing to say and is a little risky to some extent, but you could "gaijin smash." Just do it. Don't ask for permission or opinions.

Jiggit
April 21st, 2016, 15:25
I feel like "don't ask for permission" is not a good tactic when dealing with customs and immigration.

Ozreth
April 21st, 2016, 15:31
I feel like "don't ask for permission" is not a good tactic when dealing with customs and immigration.

It wouldn't have anything to do wit customs and immigration. The person would still come over totally legally with a tourist or work (if they found some) visa.

word
April 21st, 2016, 23:21
I know this isn't a popular thing to say and is a little risky to some extent, but you could "gaijin smash." Just do it. Don't ask for permission or opinions.

Gonna hafta agree with Oz and krayzi here. MG and I have discovered that a good rule of thumb for Japan is "better to ask forgiveness than permission." And, yeh, your consulate knows f*ck-all about your placement, and there is no unit of "f*cks given" small enough to measure how little of a f*ck they give about an individual JET's placement/situation (barring public embarrassment of some kind).