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Foreigners urged to swap alien certificates for new cards by July deadline

This news is initially published at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/25/national/foreigners-urged-to-swap-alien-certificates-for-new-cards-by-july-deadline/#.VRSpWnqUfCd

The Immigration Bureau is calling on foreigners who have not done so to exchange their old-style Alien Registration Certificate cards for new Residence Cards before the transition period ends in July.

The new residency management system affects all individuals with mid- to long-term permission to stay, including permanent residents.

With the deadline just over three months away, the bureau is urging those who have not made the switch to apply early on its website. It is also alerting them by mail.

While exact figures are not available, it is thought that about 15 percent of medium- to long-term residents had yet to obtain the new card at the end of February, according to Toshio Kimura, an Immigration Bureau official.

Permanent residents, who represent the largest share of those required to make the switch, totaled 677,000 at the end of last year.

“Regardless of when the deadline is, we hope everyone will get their card replaced as soon as possible,” Kimura said.

It they fail to do so, individuals will lose the means to identify themselves once their existing Alien Registration Certificate expires. In the worst-case scenario, a negligent individual could face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to ¥200,000, Kimura said.

The new resident management system replaced the Alien Registration System in July 2012. Non-Japanese nationals residing in the country who have been granted a stay of more than three months have since that date been urged to change their Alien Registration Certificate card to the new Residence Card, which they are required to carry at all times.

The old card is considered valid and equivalent to the Residence Card until a specified deadline that varies depending on the visa status and the holder’s age as of July 9, 2012.

In the case of permanent residents, the old card will expire on July 8 for those over 16 years of age. Those aged 16 or younger need to make the switch by the earlier of either July 8 or their 16th birthday.

The new card, introduced with the new system, bears the holder’s photo, name, nationality or region of origin, date of birth, gender, status of residence, period of stay and working permits. It typically applies to, for example, individuals married to a Japanese national, foreign nationals of Japanese descent, company employees, technical intern trainees, students and permanent residents. It is not for tourists staying for a short period.

Those who want to get their Alien Registration Certificate changed to a Residence Card can apply at regional Immigration Bureaus and related offices. For further information, go to www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1 .

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