Things you need to know before marrying a S’porean

I saw a ‘Dating in Singapore’ advertisement next to one of my articles in Malaysiakini recently. It got me thinking about some of the problems that Malaysians may face if they want to marry a Singaporean.

The Singapore Today newspaper article headlined ‘Longer wait, harder to get PR or citizenship’ said:

“As for foreign spouses of Singaporeans, the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) processed an annual average of 15,400 long-term visit passes and 9,900 PR (permanent resident) applications from them between 2005 and 2009. Of these, 2,200 and 4,500 respectively were unsuccessful.”

The numbers indicate that the success rate of applications (for foreign spouses (including Malaysians) of Singaporeans for long-term visit passes and permanent residency was about 86 and 55 percent respectively.

This means that in the last five years about 11,000 (2,200 unsuccessful applications x 5) Singaporeans who married foreign spouses were denied permission for their spouses to stay here under long-term visit passes, while about 22,500 (4,500 unsuccessful applications x 5) were unsuccessful in their application for permanent residency.

Can you imagine the tremendous emotional and financial stress that these 33,500 Singaporeans and their foreign spouses (which could be Malaysians) may well be facing, with spouses and possibly children being denied the right to live in Singapore?

The bureaucratic tangle

Since the requirements for granting foreign spouses’ long-term visit pass or permanent residency is not known, on what basis should a Singaporean decide whether or not to apply for either a visit pass or PR for his or her foreign Malaysian spouse?

The Today newspaper quoted associate professor Ho Peng Kee, who is senior minister of state for law and home affairs, as saying that the key consideration in deciding whether to grant a foreign spouse permanent residency is the ability of the Singaporean to support the foreign spouse financially.

What exactly is the income or asset requirement that applicants need to be met? Providing more information on the criteria would facilitate Singaporeans, especially those with lower incomes, in making informed decisions on whether they can afford to pursue relationships and marriage with foreigners.

The 66,000 (13,200 x 5) Singaporeans whose spouses were given long-term visit passes in the last five years may also face higher medical costs. This is because their foreign spouses are not eligible for any medical subsidies.

To illustrate, Singaporeans hospitalised in a C class ward receive an 80 percent subsidy, while PRs receive 70 percent (to be reduced to 60 percent by July 2011). Foreigners (including Malaysians who are not PRs) receive no subsidy.

This means that a Singaporean with a foreign Malaysian spouse on a long-term visit pass may have to pay up to 3.33 times (100 divided by 30 percent) more than a Singaporean whose spouse is a Malaysian PR.

Average waiting time

It would also be worth finding out how many Malaysian spouses on long-term visit passes eventually receive permanent residency, and how long the average waiting time for the completion of this process is.

There has been many media reports about Singaporeans who have been unable to get permission to marry foreigners, despite repeated appeals to the relevant authorities and their members of parliament (MPs).

Singaporeans with lower-income, lower education or lower-skilled jobs, find it harder to get permission to marry foreigners.

For example, a Singaporean male sales manager in an electronics shop, age 44, earning S$1,700 (RM4,000) a month, was denied permission, with the reason that his income was deemed too low to support a family. Now, after more than 20 appeals to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), more than four years, a few MPs, the answer is still ‘no’ despite his salary having gone up to S$2,500 (RM5,800).

I find it somewhat ironic that a Singaporean can go to a neighbouring country like Vietnam, pay a few thousand dollars, and marry a bride whom he has met only a few days before.

In contrast, if he wants to marry a foreigner, like a Malaysian, who has never been to Singapore on a work permit or S-employment pass, he has to apply for permission.

Surely a relationship of many years with a foreigner in Singapore, may be a more lasting and lovely one, than a ‘few days’ bride transaction.

Will such policies contribute to more strife in marriage and rising divorce rates? At the end of the day, it may be the children of such failed marriages, who may bear the brunt of the consequences.

Forced abroad to marry

There are also cases of Singaporeans who have to travel to foreign countries periodically to meet their foreign wives and children, because permission to marry was denied.

I understand that some Singaporeans who cannot get permission, simply try to get their spouse and children to stay in Johor Bharu, which is just a hop away from Singapore.

Some of these Singaporeans may decide to emigrate, perhaps preferably to Malaysia, eventually.

I find it somewhat contradictory that while we are encouraging procreation because Singapore’s procreation rate at about 1.1 is one of the lowest in the world, and are aware of the increasing trend of Singaporeans marrying non-Singaporeans, which is now at an all-time high of more than 4 out of 10 marriages, that we continue to deny permission to marry in genuine cases.

singapore shoppingAs Singapore’s constitution and national pledge say equality for citizens, why do we discriminate against citizens on the basis of their income, education and occupation?

If the theory that intelligence is due more to genes than to the environment is correct, are we not in a sense, making the lives of the genetically disadvantaged even harder, by denying their basic human right to love, to marry, and to have children?

I understand that those who have ever worked in Singapore have to apply to the MOM for permission to marry, while others have to apply to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Do they use the same criteria of assessment? Why not have just one authority so that the process and criteria may be more consistent?

I would also like to suggest that the criteria be made public, so that Singaporeans and Malaysians don’t fall in love with the wrong people.

Even harder for Singaporean women

With the foreigner population growing at double digits to about 1.3 million now, of which an estimated few hundred thousand are Malaysians, this problem may continue to grow.

If we are worried about ‘sham’ marriages to get residency in Singapore, we can perhaps learn from other countries like the United States, which has severe penalties for sham marriages, while maintaining the right of every US citizen to marry anyone they truly love.

I also understand that for Singaporean women, getting permission to marry a foreigner is even harder than for Singaporean men, as even higher standards of income, education and occupation may be required.

Is this a breach of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), of which Singapore is a signatory?

Finally, perhaps the obvious question to ask is whether Singaporeans who fall in love with Malaysians may face similar issues, if they choose to live in Malaysia?

Source:Things you need to know before marrying a S’porean Leong Sze Hian
 in MKini

LEONG SZE HIAN’S late father moved from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in 1952. Since he was born in Singapore in 1953, there may be some confusion as to whether he was conceived in Malaysia or Singapore.

35 Responses to “Things you need to know before marrying a S’porean”

  1. ali14sg Says:

    i wish to have MP like you in Singapore 🙂

  2. boboy Says:

    hi, if i marry with a singaporean divorced woman.. is it possible that her child can stay in malaysia?

  3. alvis925 Says:

    hi,i’m 22,im about to marry my gf,i’m Malaysian and she’s Singaporean,is it possible that I must serve NS?

  4. Wendy Lim Says:

    Hi I wish I could stay with my husband here in spore I am a filipina married with my husband in the year 2011. Now I’m in Hong Kong while my husband in Singapore I am hoping that Singapore government let me stay with my husband since he is already old. We have 1 daughter in the Philippines. Please let us be together thank u

    • Nur Athika Says:

      hi Wendy..where did u register ur marriage? ur daughter born SINGAPOREAN?..coz if it is..then i dont see any issues with that..

      I may not know ur situation..but i am willing to give u some advise and suggestion..

  5. Nur Fazila Says:

    Hi, is there anyone cud help me?…We actually don’t know wat else to do! I am a Filipina,ex permit holder in Singapore way back 2010.. i met a guy who become my Husband now.. after my permit we decided to go back Philippines and he never let me come back in Singapore to work again,during my stay in Philippine, we decided to have a family, then i got pregnant and gave birth on 2011..2012 then we decided to get married as my husband is S’porean Malay(Muslim) so we have to wait till i deliver my child before the marraige …. By 2013 we decided to come back to Singapore and to declaire our marraige, we applied for long term pass for me and my son.To our last month which is our 4th month stayed in Singapore we encountered problem from ICA.. They gave us extenssion visa for another 30days but have to leave the country before it ends the permitted stay… They also advice us (ICA) to settle or to come down to MOM for the issue about our marraige… To Our suprised, we didn’t know about asking approval before an ex permit holder…. Now we afraid that we cant enter Singapore again. We seek advice and Helps from MP’s and we did appeal for MOM already about this matter… 3 months ago when we have no choice than to come back in the Philippines with my Son and have to live apart with my husband…. Honestly, we dont know what else we shud do?, as we already did those neccesary thing that was already advice by MOM officers/persons….
    I am seeking for any helps or advice for our situation…. I’ve heard so many stories about getting ban of entering S’pore again with this kind of problems/issues, and i’m scared that it’ll happen to us… Thank you and hoping for your response or any advice… May God (Allah) bless us…..

    • Nur Athika Says:

      Assalamuailaikum Nur Fazila..
      just wanna ask if u don’t mind..
      did u convert to Muslim?if i do then i suggest u to register ur marriage in ROMM coz it is more recognized here in Sg..

      after the registration, then u may apply LTVP for u and for ur son..and Insya’Allah u can apply for SPR.
      I hope this can help.u.

      • yuyull Says:

        hai nur athika.. dun mind i ask u.. im malaysiam n married to singapore man.. but we not yet hav child..until now we cant get house.. how? if rental house, i nid to giv birth one child for my husband as singapore citize or resale house my husband can by using his cpf but afta all, my husband must add cash for $13x xxx..

    • Nur Athika Says:

      Hi Nur Fazila..
      I suggest u to register ur Marriage in ROMM..
      coz it is more recognized here in sg.

      when its done then ur hubby can apply LTVP for u and ur son INSYA’ALLAH

      hope this can help u..

      • Nur Athika Says:

        ROM or ROMM are more recognized
        u can get Long Term Visit Pass easier

        It is better to register here in sg

      • Mohamed Nasurdeen Says:

        Nur athika can i help with me. I have a lots of doubts..?

    • nur aishah Says:

      Hi nur also a filipina and has exactly same as ur situation.. pwed share ka naman kung ano ang sunod mong ginawa??kaso kakapagod na ang mag exit.. ng aapeal kmi pero laging deny ung application for permission to marry sa MOM..

      • Nur Athika Says:

        hi Nur Aisha..r u still here in sg?..u can contact me if u want..u can give me ur number.

    • Siti Says:

      Hi i just wanna my fellow pilipino’s who married to singaporean.. what is the requirement need to get in philippines before marrying singaporean Muslim.

      • Siti Says:

        Hi i just wanna ask my fellow pilipino’s who married to singaporean.. what is the requirement need to get in philippines before marrying singaporean Muslim.

      • Atikha Says:

        there is no other requirements needed if your fiance wants to travel to philippines,aside from passport ofcorz..;)
        he can just go to philippiness as Tourist..nothings wrong with that.
        did i answer your question.?..
        I hope u find it usefull.goodluck.

    • Atikha Says:

      yes true..u have to apply MOM ‘s approaval before getting married to a Singaporean or PR..if u ever been holding a Work Permit thats the law..i forgot about that..
      i heard cases about getting banned from entering sg because they married without MOM approaval..sorry to say this but you are not alone..they are lots of couple facing the same sad!..:(

  6. Yeo Says:

    I am a Singaporean women and wish to marry my Syrian boyfriend. He is now working in Malaysian (student visa) Can we get marry and stay in Singapore?

    • Atikha Says:

      Yes U can marry a Foreigner as long he has never been an X working permit in sg..or else he have to apply approaval from MOM to marry a singaporean or PR..

  7. zenny Says:

    I need an advice iam divorce but we get back and stay together with my singaporean exhusband i have one son who was born in singapore and now hes in philippines i want to bring him back to singapore for study. But my worry is my longterm pass is goin to end under sponsorship of my singaporean exhusband, hes diagnose of brain tumor and hes still on hes surgery about over one months staying in hospital… can i renew my longterm pass… what can i do to renew my pass again? I dont have eny job now iam still looking

    • Nur Athika Says:

      Ofcorz u can bring your son here coz he is still a singaporean..
      im not sure about your long-term pass if u can still renew since u already have divorce your hubby..
      about finding a job is a better idea..
      if u holding a long term visit pass plus u no need to get a work permit but if LtVP 1 yr..then u need to change that pass to a work permit or s pass..
      depends on what degree u are holding.

      i suggest you ask advice from ICA..they knows best..

      • Nur Athika Says:

        here’s some advice..
        If u still love ur x hubby,y dont u marry him again…and be a family it for your son’s sake is better to give both a chance..

  8. Ocean M Says:

    Hi I am facing th same problem, I am from the philippines and my fiance is a singaporean. I worked in singapore before under Spass and Employmentpass uncfortunately my boss had an MOM case due to salary issue, I lost my job and I am not allowed to leave singapore either until the mom case is over, if u are und mom case you are not allowed to work under spass or epass. you can only work under work permit, I short I took job offered at MoM which is a nursery worker until my mom was over, I work for nearly 8 months of hard labor under work pemit then after I get my clearance from mom that I am no longer needed in the investigation. I went home to the philippines, now my bf proposed and wantd to marry me, do I ned to seek approval from mom? is there a chanc that it will ever get approved? I love to be with him but I dont want to get entangled with singapore laws anymore as it had caused me so much stress when I get involvd with MOM salary issue. any advice? thanks u!

    • Atikha Says:

      hi. yes u have to ask MOM’s approval since you changed your s pass to work permit..that’s the law..anyway just try to send letter to MOM as soon possible coz im not sure how long they gonna reply to u..goodluck.

  9. Foreign Spouse Says:


    I’m holding a LTVP after marrying to a PRC holder for 4 years.
    Sadly that my relationship didn’t work well so we have decided to stop this relationship. My questions are:

    1. What would happen to my pass after divorcing? My husband was my financial sponsor on the first few years till I start working and become independent financial ( LTVP with an LOC from MOM)

    2. Who should I inform and What should I do so that I can continue staying in Singapore with my current job?

    3. Lastly, How long can I pre-marriage or will this matter affect my future marriage? (We have no kids)

    Appreciate for your help,
    Thank you

  10. Hassn Says:

    i’m from algeria and i want to marry my singaprean girlfriend , is it complicated to join her in singapore ?

  11. Izah Says:

    Hi, I am a Sporean malay divorce lady and I wish to marry my boyfriend who is a Philipino and used to work here in Spore before as a work permit holder. My boyfriend wants to convert as a Muslim and possibly to come here and work after we get married in Spore. What is main things we need to do 1st and documents need for us to get married here in Spore? Thank you and hope to hear from you soon 🙂

  12. Shamiza Says:

    Dear sir,my friend is a s’porean but married his wife a filipino.But he did not register his marriage here but in philipines.But his kid are born here as s’porean.Is it possible for the wife to file a case against my friend for adultery & get maintainable money every month for her kids?Please advise me as the wife is in philipines struggling with her kids w/o work and purely depend on my freind’s support

  13. Annie Says:

    Hi. I’m a Filipina nurse still working here in Philippines. I am really having difficulty of deciding these past few days. My Singaporean fiance asked me to marry him there in SG. And I said yes. But what concerned me now is when I learned that when I marry him, I won’t be automatically be citizen or PR of his country. And that will make me find job hard. Because almost all the requirement of jobs there needs you to be PR or Singaporean. I don’t want to be unemployed since we are both young and need to save for our future family. But he said if I arrived there and got married, he will apply me for long term visit pass. And next for PR and then citizenship. I am afraid now. What if I’ll be rejected from those application for LTVP/PR and the only option left in the future is to leave him and not be together in SG. Can you give me some advice? Especially the step to step things to do. Do we still need approval from MoM? How long will it takes for LTVP application? Can I look for a job even if I am LTVP holder only? Is it possible for me to become a citizen in time? Sorry for too many concern. Thank you

  14. dyan1199s Says:

    Hi im a lil curious..i plan to get married in spore ROMM im singaporean but my future husband is malaysian. I heard rumours says.. Once we got married to malaysian man..they are banned to enter singapore for several years.
    Now im kinda stress.

  15. Jenny fernandes Says:

    Hi what if Singaporean wants to married a filipino women but the women is working as maid what she need to do or any paper they provided

  16. Laluna Aris Says:

    Hi pls help.. im sporean n planning to get married to a mlaysian soon. Was wondering if as malaysian who dont wish to work or stay in spore after marriage does he still needs MOM /ICA approval???and how do i able to go thru processes if im banned to malaysia til 2018. ,reason for i be able to enter malaysia again aftr obtaining the marriage certs n legal documents frm here.meaning get married here in spore first .then.. how…

  17. J Says:

    Hi dr sir.
    I have some issues i need to ask you. Could we contact via email?

    • drkokogyi Says:

      Please ask others as I lost contact with latest issues, rules and regulations.
      Now I am out of Singapore for few decades and out of date.

  18. J Says:

    Hi, can we contact via email.

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