Make it easier for foreign spouses to live in Singapore

Although Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has said that the number of people renouncing Singapore citizenship is small, every Singaporean talent is of importance in its own way. Every individual can contribute to the country.

Many of my friends who married foreign brides have said they would like to move to their respective spouse's home country, like Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines or China.

This is worrying.

One problem is that the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) does not make it easy for foreign spouses to get a pass to live here.

A long list of documents is needed, and the Singaporean and his spouse have to make multiple trips to the ICA building to apply for and renew the pass.

Even though the spouse is legally married to a Singaporean, she does not immediately enjoy the benefits of subsidised medical consultation or treatment in polyclinics.

Locals with spouses holding a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) or a Long-Term Visit Pass-Plus (LTVP+) cannot buy new Housing Board flats.

This adds to their cost of living, as they can buy only resale flats.

With so much hassle, as well as the high cost of living here, more Singaporeans will renounce their citizenship and make their home abroad.

I hope the Government will make it easier for foreign spouses to apply for a long-term pass and allow the automatic renewal of the LTVP+ and permanent residents' Re-Entry Permit.

Raymund Koh Joo Guan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Make it easier for foreign spouses to live in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe