Working abroad? Sweet. LDR? Not so much.
November 9, 2009 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Visafilter: I've been hitting a brick wall with the Japanese consulate regarding same-sex partners and dependent-visa eligibility. Any Mefites have experience with this sort of thing?

I'm a guy in my mid-twenties with a same-sex partner about the same age, and we've been together for six years. I've just been hired to teach English in Japan this spring, which I'm really excited about, and my SO has an interview lined up with the same company this weekend. I'm fairly confident he'll be hired as well (he's got much more teaching experience) but just in case, we're applying elsewhere and researching alternatives, including visa options.
I've found several unofficial websites like this one which mention it's now possible for a married same-sex partner to sponsor their accompanying spouse.
I've tried calling the local Japanese Consulate in Seattle to confirm or deny this, but the visa officer was out, and it seemed like no matter how I phrased the question, all I got back from the woman I spoke to was "Japan doesn't have a domestic partnership visa," which felt like a canned answer and didn't actually address my question.
What I want to know is whether a married (or in Washington State, domestic-partnered) couple is eligible to apply for the already-existent dependent visa, or perhaps some other type of visa I'm not aware of.
The SO and I aren't married - we've discussed getting hitched but we've held off due to R-71, and given the general lack of information from the Consulate, we aren't sure whether becoming domestic partners in Washington would do anything for my partner's visa eligibility anyway. Maybe a state offering full-on Marriage would be better?
I'd really appreciate any advice from Mefites who have either Japan-specific experience or those who have successfully negotiated similar problems before. Anything helps, really. Please let me know if you need more information, and thanks in advance.
posted by azuresunday to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Why limit your calls to the Japanese consulate in Seattle? Japan has other consulates in Los Angeles, NY, and likely other big cities. Its embassy in Washington DC is also a place you can call.

Japan is a popular tourist destination for Americans. Some consulate or the embassy has been asked this question before.

For reference, here's a link to the list of North American consulates and embassies of Japan.
posted by dfriedman at 8:24 PM on November 9, 2009

Response by poster: dfriedman: I actually tried calling the Consulate in San Francisco as well, but their answer was "call the Seattle Consulate." I'll try some of the others including D.C. though. Thank you.
posted by azuresunday at 8:33 PM on November 9, 2009

The Wikipedia article on LGBT rights in Japan indicates that Japan does not recognize same-sex marriages: "Same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships performed in other jurisdictions (such as Canada) have no legal standing in Japan."

But the same article also refers to a Japan Times article about some thawing in this position, at least for Japanese citizens: Japan allows same-sex marriage abroad.
posted by zippy at 9:00 PM on November 9, 2009

Did they refer you back to Seattle because that's where you live? Maybe try saying that you're just on a trip to Seattle but you live in X city, and you're just trying to figure you what form you need to fill out/how to fill it out.

Not that I would ever endorse lying to the good diplomats of Japan.
posted by Dasein at 9:00 PM on November 9, 2009

She's right, there is no domestic partnership visa. It is possible to get a visa for a dependent spouse or child, but he's not that, and Immigration will not permit anything like that, no matter how you phrase it. Also, dependent visa holders are not allowed to work. Therefore, if your SO wants to work he will need to get a job and certificate of eligibility before coming.
I'm sure you already know about the various shenanigans that take place under tourist visas.
posted by planetkyoto at 10:54 PM on November 9, 2009

Best answer: I asked a friend who works for the Japanese government in a related area, and they said that (1) if both of you want to work, your chances of reaching this point by one of you sponsoring the other are very,very small; (2) if you're okay with one of you being unable to work, same-sex marriages between Japanese nationals and other folks are now "accepted," but to what degree isn't always clear, and there's even less information about what happens when neither party is Japanese; and (3) all things being equal it would probably be much easier if both of you just found jobs. Sorry.

If this is really important to you and the two-job solution won't work for some reason, try talking to an immigration lawyer who specializes in Japan. It's their job to know all this stuff, and if it comes down to being able to file precisely the right papers in precisely the right way, your chances are much better with a professional helping you out.
posted by No-sword at 7:23 AM on November 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone; I kinda suspected it'd turn out like No-sword says. Like I said above, I'm just looking for backup plans in case the SO doesn't get any job offers. That situation doesn't seem likely, but I'm kind of a "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" person.
posted by azuresunday at 7:58 AM on November 10, 2009

Hmm. I have absolutely no first-hand experience with this, but a zoo-library colleague recently left his job and moved to Japan with his husband, who was offered a good job there. They both moved, only one of them has a job currently, but both are planning to work at some point. If you'd like, you can email me and I can give you his contact info, if you want someone with firsthand, very recent experience. He just moved a month or two ago.
posted by booknerd at 9:12 AM on November 10, 2009

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