Help available for foreign spouses of Singaporeans

Posed photo of a married couple.
Posed photo of a married couple.PHOTO: ST FILE

We refer to the letters from Ms Lim Wen Ting (Don't separate foreigner-Singaporean couples, May 17), Madam Pham Thi Ngoc Anh (Don't consider only salary when granting PR status, May 20) and Mr Harry Chia (Singapore shouldn't lose out on talented foreign spouses, May 22).

The Government is committed to supporting Singaporeans' aspirations for marriage and families.

To help prospective Singaporean-foreigner couples plan their future, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) introduced the Pre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass Assessment (PMLA) in 2015.

This provides prospective foreign spouses of Singaporeans greater clarity on their eligibility for a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP).

Such couples are strongly encouraged to go through the PMLA before marriage.

To further support the foreign spouse's stay in Singapore, ICA also introduced the Long-Term Visit Pass-Plus scheme (LTVP+).

Foreign spouses of Singaporeans are eligible for LTVP+ if they have been married for at least three years, or have a Singaporean child (or are expecting one), among other criteria. The LTVP+ is of longer validity, and provides healthcare subsidies for inpatient services at a level similar to permanent residents, and other features.

Foreign spouses who are granted an LTVP or LTVP+ will be able to take up employment in Singapore without the need for work passes, and foreign worker quotas and levies will not apply to them.

Others, of course, may be eligible for work passes on their own merits, and if they find, or already have, employment in Singapore, can remain here.

The foreign spouse can subsequently apply for permanent residence (PR) or Singapore citizenship (SC).

Likewise, the granting of PR or SC will depend on a range of factors, including the stability and length of the marriage.

At the same time, ICA has increased the penalties for sham marriages, to deter foreigners from using this as a means to obtain immigration facilities in Singapore.

For this reason, and also to ensure that those whom we welcome to stay in Singapore are positive additions to our society, we consider all applications for long-term stay very carefully.

The specific criteria or grounds for accepting or rejecting applications cannot be made known publicly, to prevent attempts to game the system.

Visit the ICA website at www.ica.gov.sg for more information.

Brenda Tham

Deputy Head, Public & Internal Communications

Corporate Communications Division

Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'Help available for foreign spouses of Singaporeans'. Print Edition | Subscribe