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Gerald Giam: Long-term passes for SG foreign spouses should be easier to process – Singapore News

‘The Government should not make it difficult for a married couple to stay together’

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SINGAPORE: Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) said in Parliament on Monday (Sept 18) that many of the cases presented to him during his ‘Meet the People’ Sessions (MOS) are related to immigration matters, with Singaporeans feeling disappointed when their spouses are denied an LTVP (Long Term Visit Pass) or permanent residency.

“The Government should not make it difficult for a married couple to stay together by denying an LTVP to a foreign spouse or child of a Singaporean. Family formation is one of the core social values in Singapore and our immigration policy must support it,” he said.

Mr Giam noted that his sessions are mainly attended by lower-income Singaporeans, who ask him to appeal for them when their spouses’ applications to stay in Singapore are rejected.

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Some share with me their deep longing to start a family, but their hesitation due to their spouse’s uncertain immigration status. Most don’t understand why the applications were rejected because no reasons are provided by ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority),” he added.

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Speaking on the Immigration Amendment Bill, Mr Giam noted that around a quarter of all marriages are between Singaporeans and foreigners, but settling down in Singapore involves challenges.

The first challenge is for the spouse to stay in the country on a long-term basis, first through an LTVP and then permanent residency, a difficult process for those with low educational qualifications and incomes.

Mr Giam noted that a Pre-Marriage LTVP Assessment (PMLA) was introduced by the ICA in 2015, and it would indicate whether a foreign spouse could qualify for an LTVP.

However, the take-up rate for completing the PMLA has been poor. Many residents Mr Giam has met are unaware that the assessment exists.

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“I am aware that the ROM website advises them to undergo a PMLA. However, is this highlighted to the couple in person before the marriage registration process, keeping in mind that many of these couples may not be proficient in reading English?” asked the MP.

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He also noted that the ICA, in general, does not say why an application for LTVP or PR was denied.  He pointed out that in Canada and Australia, spouses and family reasons are given the reasons when such applications are rejected.

After proposing four approaches to improve the immigration process for the immediate family members of Singaporeans, he added, “While I am grateful for the chance to engage with more constituents at my ‘Meet the People’ sessions, submitting appeals through one’s MP should not be the default means of communication between citizens and the government.

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An accessible, self-service channel should be made available, particularly for appeals with a substantial volume. A secure online form should be made available on the ICA website for all immigration appeals, with clear instructions guiding appellants to submit new facts not provided in earlier applications. /TISG

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