Some ways ICA can improve foreign spouse pass issue

A Singaporean passport.
A Singaporean passport. PHOTO: ST FILE

The letter from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) was not only predictable, but it also hardly addressed the concerns brought up by the Forum letter writers (Help available for foreign spouses of Singaporeans, May 28).

If the ICA is truly "committed to supporting Singaporeans' aspirations for marriage and families", I have suggestions.

First, instead of using monthly salary as the yardstick when deciding whether or not to grant a Long-Term Visit Pass-Plus or permanent residence (PR), why not use the type of dwelling eligible applicants live in or own?

My family, as an example, lives in a private property while I own a fully paid up Housing Board flat. My wife takes care of our only child, a Primary 1 pupil, while also helping her widowed 86-year-old mother-in-law.

We do not rely on a maid. In addition, my wife works as a high school teacher for an international school in Singapore. She is a graduate.

The perils of using monthly salary as a yardstick is that if the spouse/sponsor suddenly dies, what becomes of his foreign spouse and their child? Are they automatically deported?

Second, it would help the ICA greatly if it actually conducted face-to-face interviews with families where a member is applying for PR. I understand that thousands are applying for PR at any given time. But how can the ICA decide whether to grant any application simply by looking at some documents, such as a monthly payslip?

Currently, even foreign-born couples who get paid enough can obtain PR. They are even eligible to buy a Build-To-Order flat.

How is this fair to someone like me - who has contributed as a regular in the Singapore Armed Forces, a primary school teacher and a Singapore Airlines flight steward - whose wife still cannot get a Long-Term Visit Pass or PR even after seven years and having a child.

Every Singaporean family deserves to be kept together.

Simon Owen Khoo Kim San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2019, with the headline 'Some ways ICA can improve foreign spouse pass issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe