The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will introduce new measures to help prospective Singaporean-foreigner couples better plan for the future, by providing greater clarity, prior to marriage, on whether the foreign spouse can qualify for long term stay in Singapore, based on the circumstances of the couple at the time of application. The measures will also help prospective spouses, particularly those who may not have had the benefit of a long relationship, to have sufficient pertinent information about each other before their marriage. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will also introduce new programmes to better support such cross-cultural marriages and the foreign spouses who qualify for long term stay to adjust to Singapore.
The number of marriages between Singapore Citizens and foreigners has been rising in recent years. In 2013, 30% of all marriages involving at least one Singapore Citizen (SC) were between SCs and non-resident spouses (i.e. the spouse was neither an SC nor a Permanent Resident), up from 23% in 2003. Foreigners who marry SCs can reside in Singapore if they have a valid work pass or are granted the relevant immigration passes such as the Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP).
Revised LTVP Process – New Pre-marriage LTVP Assessment (PMLA)
The LTVP application process will be revised with effect from 1 January 2015. Under the revised process, prospective Singaporean-foreigner couples are encouraged to jointly submit an application for a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) before marriage. The joint application will also help prospective spouses have sufficient pertinent information about each other before committing to marriage. Those who are assessed by ICA to be eligible for LTVP based on the information submitted will be issued a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) that is valid for one year. Couples can then use the LLE to support their application for an LTVP after marriage. Couples who do not go through the LLE application process can still apply for an LTVP after marriage, but could face a longer processing time of six months or more when they submit an LTVP application. The LTVP applications will continue to be assessed based on prevailing criteria.
We will also make it easier for foreign spouses of Singaporeans to seek employment if they qualify for LTVP. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will issue a Letter of Consent (LOC) to foreign spouses with an LTVP when they secure employment. They will not be counted against the foreign worker quota of their employers and their employers are also not required to pay the foreign workers’ levy for them.
Marriage to a Singaporean does not automatically qualify a foreigner for long-term stay in Singapore. All applications will be assessed on a set of prevailing criteria, including the ability of the Singaporean sponsor to support and look after the family. Every application is assessed carefully and holistically, based on its own merits.
New Marriage Programmes for Singaporean-foreigner Couples
From 1 December 2014, a Marriage Preparation Programme (MPP) for Singaporean-foreigner couples will be offered at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) as part of the civil marriage registration process. Couples marrying at the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) can sign up for an MPP customised for Muslim Singaporean-foreigner marriages. The MPPs help couples gain more insights into cross-cultural issues in their marriage, building the foundation for a strong marriage.
In addition, a Marriage Support Programme will be introduced to help couples manage cross-cultural differences as they settle down. It will offer conversational language skills to the foreign spouse, and point out avenues to seek job opportunities to help with family finances. Buddies, who are volunteers trained to assist cross-cultural couples, will be present at these programmes to befriend them. All Singaporean-foreigner couples are encouraged to attend these programmes.
For more information on the revised LTVP process, please visit the ICA website at www.ica.gov.sg. You can also email ICA at ICA_Visit_Pass@ica.gov.sg.
For more information on the new marriage programmes, please click here.