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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Details released on criteria to let illegal aliens stay

Positive factor could include raising kids here


Staff writer

The Immigration Bureau said Friday that when the justice minister decides whether to grant an illegal immigrant special permission to stay, positive factors would include that the person is living with and raising school-age children who have spent "a considerable period of time" in Japan.

Undergoing treatment for a serious disease and taking care of family members receiving such treatment will also count favorably toward the granting of such a permit, according to the updated guideline, which was released Friday and will take effect Monday.

The immigration authority issues a special permit to some illegal residents to remain in Japan on humanitarian grounds, although such a permit is typically effective for only one year and has to be reissued for continued residency.

However, details of the criteria for such a permit to be issued have not previously been made public, which some experts argue has discouraged illegal residents from declaring themselves to immigration authorities.

The Immigration Bureau has been working to revise the guidelines since April, as the government was outlining new bills to revise immigration control laws.

The Diet passed the bills Wednesday. One of them obliges the justice minister to clarify the criteria so illegal foreign residents come forward and present themselves to immigration authorities.

The bills, to be enforced within three years, tighten controls on foreigners by centralizing their personal information, including name, address and expiration of their visa, under the Justice Ministry.

However, there is concern that illegal residents will not come forward and report such information if they are unsure they will receive the special permit or be taken into custody for deportation.

According to the revised guidelines, presenting themselves to authorities will count favorably for illegal immigrants seeking the permit.

The updated guideline also says it will count favorably if one is married to a Japanese, permanent resident, child of a permanent resident or a permanent settler — for example, a Latin American of Japanese descent. The old version of the guideline mentions only Japanese and permanent residents.

Not surprisingly, the guidelines take a dim view of convictions for serious crimes, including prostitution and weapons and narcotics dealing, or belonging to a crime ring.

The new guidelines also said a combination of positive and negative points will be considered in making a decision about whether to grant a special permit to stay, and merely having a point in one's favor will not automatically result in the justice minister granting the permit.



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