Changes in work authorization impact some foreign spouses

21 Nov 14

SINGAPORE

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Beginning next year, foreign spouses of Singapore citizens and permanent residents on Long Term Visit Passes may obtain Letters of Consent from the Ministry of Manpower allowing them to work.

What does the change mean? Companies that hire foreign spouses can obtain Letters of Consent instead of separate work authorization.

  • Implementation timeframe: Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Visas/permits affected: Long Term Visit Passes.
  • Who is affected: Newly married foreign spouses of Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
  • Impact on processing times: No direct impact.
  • Business Impact: The change gives employers a simpler option for hiring foreign spouses of citizens and permanent residents.

Background: Effective Jan. 1, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower will issue Letters of Consent to foreign nationals who are married to Singapore citizens and permanent residents and who are staying in Singapore on Long Term Visit Passes. Previously, only foreign spouses who were eligible for Long Term Visit Pass Plus (LTVP+) were issued Letters of Consent. This meant that foreign spouses who were not eligible for an LTVP+ had to obtain a work pass. In order to obtain an LTVP+, the foreign spouse must either be the parent of a child who is a Singapore citizen or be married to the Singapore partner for at least three years. The new change primarily affects newly married foreign spouses, particularly those without children.

While the relative numbers are small, businesses may now find foreign spouses on Long Term Visit Passes more attractive as employees, as hiring them after obtaining a Letter of Consent will be simpler than other work authorization options. If the foreign spouse could have been eligible for an S Pass, the employer will no longer have to use quota space or pay levies. If the foreign spouse could have been eligible for an Employment Pass, the employer will be freed from possible job advertisement requirements needed to fill the position with a foreign national.

BAL Analysis: Businesses will welcome having another option to employ foreign spouses of a Singapore citizen or permanent resident that does not require obtaining a work pass and managing the issues involved in either an S Pass or Employment Pass application.  

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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