So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to apply for DCF in Japan, and the information was so obscure that I only found it after going to the US Embassy in Tokyo directly without an appointment, and getting lucky enough to speak with someone who made an exception for me while also knowing the correct information.
I decided it would be best to share it here because this forum kept popping up in my visa searching. I found some conflicting information here and I wanted to clarify a few things.
Can I file for Direct Consular Filing (DCF) in Japan?
The answer to this question is definitely yes. Japan does not have a USCIS FOD, so they require an exception from the USCIS in order to process an I-130 on their behalf. Japan has a blanket exemption for all US Military personnel so they don't require any special requests being sent to the USCIS. In fact, all the information I was provided from the first half dozen embassy staff was geared towards assisting military personnel and led to several dead ends. The fact that you require an appointment to speak to anyone knowledgeable about DCF, yet you cannot make an appointment without a referral from the USCIS was a particularly infuriating catch 22. The people I spoke with on the phone were no better than automated services with little authority and knowledge. I kept getting redirected to incorrect resources via phone and email.
What is the process for DCF without a military exemption?
Many posts on this forum said that DCF in Japan was not authorized due to the lack of a USCIS office. Of course, some of these were older posts, but nonetheless, you can apply when certain exceptional circumstances apply. It will require justifying your request with circumstances that include a short notice job relocation, medical emergencies, and other exceptional circumstances noted in PM-602-0043.1. I was concerned that this policy memorandum may have been overturned or expired, but as of today, it appears to be still valid. Once the embassy receives the request, they will forward the information to the Regional USCIS director who is located in Korea for Japan. For me, this took less than 24 hours to process.
How do I submit a PM-602-0043.1 request for Tokyo?
You will need to send an email to TokyoIV@state.gov . I could not find this information anywhere on the Tokyo embassy website, so this address is used for immigrant visa contacts. Your email will require the following information:
Name of Petitioner (you), Date and Place of Birth:
Name of Beneficiary (your relative), Date and Place of Birth:
Date you became aware of a transfer or other emergency situations:
Expected departure or transfer date:
Please describe the emergency situation:
I also was asked to provide a contract to support my claim.
I hope this information is helpful because it took me quite a lot of searching and desperation to discover.