Looking back on 2016, this year was a pretty great one for me. I started it in Japan, celebrating the New Year’s Eve at a big concert hall with around 10.000 other people together with my favorite musician Ayumi Hamasaki. Back then, I was on my New Year’s trip to Japan which lasted three weeks. I got two more weeks to travel around, meet friends and experience the country.
This trip ended with a proposal and much bureaucratic stuff to do for preparing our wedding. Luckily we could handle everything without any bigger trouble and so we got married in July in Germany. A great day with wonderful memories. Finished with this point, next was the process to get my visa for moving to Japan. The plan was to leave Germany in October, so less than three months after our wedding.
For a German native like me, now the normal process would be going to the Japanese Embassy in Berlin, giving them all the required documents and getting a spouse visa for Japan. Actually, that was also the way I wanted to do it. However, I phoned the Embassy about my issue, because I first wanted to know which documents they need and how long it will take to get the visa. You know, I live over 250 kilometers away from the embassy, so I wanted to have everything with me when doing a one-day-trip there.
My phone call ended up with the following information:
“As German native it is ok to enter Japan on a tourist visa, which you will get for 90 days at the airport in Japan. With this you can go to the immigration office in Japan and change it into the spouse visa.”
Ok, that seemed nice. I asked some other people on Facebook and some told me they went the same they. And because Japanese natives have the same rights in Germany, I didn’t see any problem. Everything should work out fine, I thought.
I went to Japan on 9th October, already got the first small problems at the airport in Frankfurt. My booked flight back was nine month after my flight there and I didn’t have a visa. I told the staff of ANA airlines my situation and they accepted it. Actually, I read a blog entry of another person with same situation a while ago and ANA didn’t let him fly and he had to book another expensive flight. I was relieved they accepted my situation as it is and believed me I will get a visa inside Japan. Only their PC didn’t want to accept it. Around 10 minutes and two other ANA staff later they finally found out how to get my visa statues into their program, I got my flight ticket and everything was good.
Shortly after arriving in Japan, my husband took a day off and we went to the Immigration Office in Yokohama, because we were living in Kanagawa prefecture. The way there was long and somehow I didn’t feel well that day. Probably my body already knew something will happen.
With all our documents we went to the officer. He checked them and told us, it’s impossible to get a visa in Japan. 「これは無理です。」 I should go back to Germany as soon as possible and get my visa there from the Japanese Embassy. I was shocked. I told them what the Japanese Embassy told me. Another officer came to us, saying the same. I tried to discuss with them, however, this was not really possible, because of my poor Japanese knowledge. Furthermore the officers seemed to ignore what I was saying. For them it was clear: no visa, go back home and apply from there!
I ended up crying, shocked, didn’t know what to do. That was tough…
But we didn’t give up. I talked to some people on Facebook again, getting clear of the situation and getting told again that nobody had problems with this way of visa issuing before. We made the decision to first try everything else before I go back to Germany – because this would only cost useless money and time…
Yokohama Immigration Office kept our documents to give us the Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). I got it around one month later by mail, getting told again in an information flyer that I should go back to my home country with this to apply for a visa.
I didn’t. I went to the Immigration Office in Shinagawa, hoping they will tell me something else. I was so nervous on this day, I felt horrible. Luckily everything went well there. Nobody wanted me to return to Germany. It didn’t take an hour and we could leave the office again – me having my residence card as spouse of a Japanese national.
Yokohama Immigration Office gave me a pretty tough moment this year and even Shinagawa staff was lightly confused when we told them what happened there. Even I live in Kanagawa prefecture now, I decided to not go to this office again – there is another one around here at Tachikawa which I want to try for renewal next time.
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