Responsibilities and scope of a guarantor
When foreigners apply for such as permanent residency or Spouse/Child of Japanese National visa, you are required to have a “guarantor”.
As we often receive inquiries from our clients who are having difficulty finding someone to act as his/her guarantor, we will explain the responsibilities and scope of a guarantor under the Immigration Control Act.
Japanese version of this article 入管法における身元保証人の責任について
Who can be a guarantor?
Depending on the status of residence for which the applicant is applying, the guarantor may be limited to a relative, but basically it should be a Japanese national or, in the case of a foreign national, a permanent resident or special permanent resident.
Difficulty finding a guarantor
When Japanese people hear the term “guarantor,” many often associate it with a “joint guarantor.” A joint guarantor is someone who takes on the responsibility to repay a loan or debt on behalf of the primary debtor if they are unable to make payments. Stories of joint guarantors having to repay debts because the primary debtor fled are common, contributing to the strong association of this image with guarantors. Because of this strong association, many people feel hesitant to act as guarantors for foreign acquaintances who ask them to become guarantors for their visa applications.
Furthermore, in the case of permanent residency applications, the requirement to submit documents like the guarantor’s tax certificates created challenges. Some people do not want their income to be disclosed to their acquaintances, and in situations involving multinational companies, discussing income levels is considered a delicate matter, making it difficult for foreign applicants to request someone to be their guarantor.
However, since June 2022, the documents required for the guarantor in permanent residency applications have been simplified, and there is no longer a need to submit income-related documents. As a result, I believe that the barrier for individuals to become guarantors for permanent residency applications has been lowered.
Responsibilities of a guarantor
Under the Immigration Control Act, a guarantor is defined as “a person who promises to the Minister of Justice to provide, if necessary, economic guarantees and life guidance, including compliance with laws and regulations, so that the foreigner can achieve the purpose of his/her stay in Japan stably and continuously” (source: Immigration Bureau’s website). There is no legal enforceability against a guarantor. However, if the guarantor fails to fulfill their commitments, the Immigration Bureau may provide guidance on fulfilling those promises. In other words, a guarantor under the Immigration Control Act does not possess the same legal enforcement as a traditional joint guarantor. While losing social credibility for lacking suitability as a guarantor, the role carries no legal liability; it is more of a moral responsibility.
What to guarantee?
The guarantor shall guarantee the following (except for permanent residency applications):
- Living expenses in Japan
- Travel expenses for a return trip
- Compliance with laws and regulations
As mentioned earlier, the guarantor is not legally required to cover the foreign national’s expenses.
For permanent residency applications, the guarantor is responsible for the following:
- Compliance with laws and regulations
- Fulfillment of public duties
The guarantor assures the necessary support to fulfill these responsibilities.
In this way, a guarantor under the Immigration Control Act does not possess the same legal enforcement as a traditional joint guarantor. In many cases with previous clients, explaining this distinction has led to many individuals agreeing to become guarantors. However, it is crucial to emphasize that there remains a moral responsibility. Therefore, when taking up this role, it is essential for the guarantor to understand the extent of their responsibilities beforehand.
– Spent high school years in the U.K. and graduated from a local school.
– Studied mainly intercultural communication at Sophia University’s Faculty of Foreign Languages, English Department.
– Worked in the overseas department of SEIKO for 11 years after graduation.
– Over 10 years of experience teaching English to high school students, with a TOEIC score of 970 and a Class A level in the United Nations Associations Test of English.
– Serves as a director in charge of international affairs at the Chiba Administrative Scrivener Association.
– Officially registered on the Financial Services Agency’s “List of Professionals (Administrative Scriveners) in Chiba Prefecture capable of providing services in foreign languages.”
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