Long-Term Visit Passes for unmarried couples receiving more scrutiny

2 Oct 14

SINGAPORE

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Singapore is growing more stringent in its review of applications for Long-Term Visit Passes for unmarried common-law partners of Employment Pass holders.

What does the change mean? The Ministry of Manpower is applying more scrutiny and may reject applications for unmarried partners whose home countries do not legally recognize common-law marriages. MOM has also recently questioned the documents normally accepted for partners whose countries do recognize common-law marriage.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Long-Term Visit Passes.
  • Who is affected: Long-Term Visit Pass applicants and Employment Pass holders or applicants who want their unmarried partners to join them in Singapore. It is unclear at this stage whether the more stringent review of Long-Term Visit Passes will also cover stepchildren.
  • Impact on processing times: In some cases, Long-Term Visit Pass applicants have had their applications rejected as a result of the tightened review.
  • Next steps: BAL will continue to monitor changes in this area and update clients on new developments.

Background: Long-Term Visit Passes are often used by unmarried partners or stepchildren of Employment Pass holders to stay in Singapore. Until two weeks ago, Singapore had accepted notarized statutory declarations by work pass holders stating that their common-law relationships are recognized in their home countries. Those declarations were part of the Long-Term Visit Pass application process, but MOM recently rejected them as insufficient without further explanation. It is unclear what brought on the change. It is also unknown whether Singapore will extend its heightened scrutiny to stepchildren’s applications.

BAL Analysis: What is clear is that Singapore has made it significantly more difficult for Long-Term Visit Pass applications to be approved in some circumstances. This not only makes things more complicated for partners of Employment Pass holders, but could eventually have a negative impact on Employment Pass applicants themselves if their partners cannot join them in Singapore. The situation remains fluid and Employment Pass or Long-Term Visit Pass applicants with concerns about the heightened scrutiny should contact their BAL attorney for advice.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact singapore@balglobal.com.

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