Singapore: Whether a male foreign national can obtain citizenship or permanent residence by marriage to a female citizen of Singapore, including requirements and procedures (2012-2013) [SGP104435.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Citizenship for Spouse of Singapore Citizen

The Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) is the government agency that administers citizenship and permanent residency in Singapore (Singapore 17 June 2013). According to information on their website, which sources confirmed as current and accurate as of June 2013 (ibid.; Co-Managing Partner 19 June 2013), a spouse of a Singapore citizen is eligible to be considered for citizenship if he or she has been married and a permanent resident of Singapore for at least two years prior to the date of the application (Singapore n.d.a).

Applicants are required to complete the Citizenship Application Form, and submit the following documents:

  • Recent passport-sized colour photograph;
  • Identity Card and Birth Certificate;
  • Marriage Certificate; Divorce Certificate; Separation Deed;
  • Passport or travel document;
  • Entry permit Card/Re-entry permits;
  • Educational Certificates and Skill Certificates;
  • A letter of employment stating position, salary, date of employment, and latest payslip;
  • Authorisation form for ICA to verify financial information;
  • Financial documents and profile for those who own their own business;
  • Death certificate of ex-spouse, proof of custody of children from previous marriage, if applicable;
  • Deed Poll or Religious Certificate for change of name, if applicable;
  • Identity documents of children (birth certificate, passport or travel document, entry permit/identity card), if applicable;
  • Foreign Citizenship Certificate and Foreign Identity Card, if applicable. (ibid.)

The ICA also states that the applicant is required to bring both the originals and a photocopy of the documents, and may be required to submit additional documents (ibid.). There is an application fee of $SGP 100 [$CAD 82.42 (XE 24 June 2013)] (Singapore n.d.a). After the applicant submits the relevant documents, an official determines if the applicant is eligible for citizenship and arranges an interview for the applicant and spouse (ibid.; Co-Managing Partner 19 June 2013).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a co-managing partner at a Singapore law firm explained that citizenship is granted "on a case-by case basis" (ibid.). An official at the Singapore Consulate in Vancouver, also in correspondence with the Research Directorate, similarly explained that all decisions on citizenship applications are discretionary (Singapore 17 June 2013). According to the official, factors such as income or whether the applicant plans to return to Singapore for work or national service may contribute to the decision of whether the application is approved or denied (ibid.). An ICA spokesperson, as quoted by the Singapore-based New Paper, said that each citizenship application is "'assessed based on individual merits'" and that factors include "the applicant's economic contributions, the extent of family roots in Singapore and good conduct records, among other things" (The New Paper 26 Dec. 2012). The ICA website states:

All applicants for citizenship must be of good character, have satisfied the residential requirement and have the intention to reside permanently in Singapore. They must also be able to support themselves and their dependents financially. (Singapore n.d.a)

According to the consulate official, the process for obtaining citizenship can take up to six months (ibid. 17 June 2013). The co-managing partner of the Singapore law firm said that the applicant typically waits six to nine months after the citizenship interview for the final outcome of the process (19 June 2013).

The consular official indicated that some applicants who apply for Singapore citizenship abroad are required to return to Singapore to complete the process (Singapore 17 June 2013). The consular official also provided a copy of the citizenship application form, which is attached to this Response.

The Singapore-based Strait Times reports that, according to a minister at the Prime Minister's office, in 2012, 20,693 people were granted Singapore citizenship (26 Feb. 2013). The majority of new citizens--80 percent--had lived in Singapore for more than five years (The Strait Times 26 Feb. 2013). The same article indicates that 10 percent of citizenship applications are rejected (ibid.). Between the years of 2008 to 2012, an average of 4,100 new citizens were spouses of Singaporeans, 90 percent of whom were the wives of Singaporean men (ibid.). According to the Minister, citizenship is typically not granted before a person resides in Singapore, but there are occasionally exceptions to this rule for dependents, such as children, wives or parents, who may be granted citizenship "'before they have a long extended period of stay in Singapore'" (ibid.). This information could not be corroborated by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Permanent Residence for Spouse of Singapore Citizen

According to the ICE website, spouses of Singapore citizens are eligible to apply for permanent residence (Singapore n.d.b). They are required to complete the application form (Form 4) and to submit documentation, which is outlined in accompanying notes to Form 4 (ibid.). Both the application form (Form 4) and the explanatory notes are attached to this Response.

Applicants can apply for permanent residence from within Singapore or abroad (Singapore Sept. 2012). According to the official at the Singapore Consulate in Vancouver, the processing time for permanent residence takes up to six months (ibid. 17 June 2013).

The Co-Managing Partner noted that the granting of permanent residency is discretionary, and is dependent, in part, on the interview (19 June 2013). In a study entitled A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore: Population White Paper, the National Population and Talent Division of the Prime Minister's Office states:

[p]ermanent residence is granted to those who have a long-term stake in Singapore and who intend to sink roots here. It is an intermediate step through which foreigners take up citizenship in Singapore. As with Singapore citizenship, applicants for permanent residence are comprehensively assessed. (Singapore Jan.2013, 27)

The same source explains that factors that are taken into account when assessing both citizenship and permanent residence applications include

. . . the individual's family ties to Singaporeans, economic contributions, qualifications, age and family profile, to assess the applicant's ability to contribute to Singapore and integrate into our society, as well as his or her commitment to sinking roots. (Singapore Jan.2013, 26)

The National Population and Talent Division notes that approximately 30,000 Permanent Residency applications have been accepted each year from 2010 to 2012 (ibid, 27). According to a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, as reported by The Straits Times, from 2008 to 2012, a yearly average of 4,100 foreign spouses of Singapore citizens became permanent residents, while 4,400 a year were unsuccessful (26 Feb. 2013). The Minister explained that their department had to follow rules to ensure that new immigrants could be assimilated and would not be a financial strain (The Straits Times 26 Feb. 2013).

3. Other Statuses

Sources indicate that some foreign spouses do not qualify for permanent residence, but may be granted a Long-Term Visit Pass or a Long-Term Visit Pass Plus (Today 6 Mar.2013; Singapore Jan.2013, 26; Channel NewsAsia 5 Mar.2013). The Long-Term Visit Pass Plus was introduced in April 2012 for spouses who have been married for at least three years or who have children with Singapore citizenship, and allows for "longer residency, access to in-patient subsidies at restructured hospitals and makes it easier for the holder to seek employment in Singapore" (Singapore Jan.2013, 26). According to a governmental minister, in 2012, more than 11,000 foreign spouses had a Long Term Visit Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass Plus (Channel NewsAsia 5 Mar.2013; Today 6 Mar.2013).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Channel NewsAsia. 5 March 2013. "Over 11,700 Foreign Spouses of S'Poreans on LTVP Last Year: Iswaran." (Factiva)

Co-Managing Partner, Singapore Law Firm. 19 June 2013. Correspondence to the Research Directorate.

The New Paper [Singapore]. 26 December 2012. Rennie Whang. "S'pore Citizenship 'a Privilege'." (Factiva)

Singapore. 17 June 2013. Consulate of Singapore in Vancouver. Correspondence from a consular official to the Research Directorate.

_____. January 2013. National Population and Talent Division, Prime Minister's Office. A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore. Population White Paper. <http://202.157.171.46/whitepaper/downloads/population-white-paper.pdf> [Accessed 24 June 2013]

_____. September 2012. "Form 4. Application for Permanent Residence in Singapore." Sent in correspondence from the Consulate of Singapore in Vancouver.

_____. N.d.a. Immigration and Checkpoint Authority. "Citizenship Application." <http://www.ica.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=132> [Accessed 15 May 2013]

_____. N.d.b. Immigration and Checkpoint Authority. "Apply for Permanent Residence." <http://www.ica.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=151> [Accessed 15 May 2013]

The Straits Times [Singapore]. 26 February 2013. Goh Chin Lian. "Parliament; About 20,000 Became Singaporeans Last Year." (Factiva)

Today [Singapore]. 6 March 2013. "Over 11,700 Foreign Spouses of S'Poreans Granted Passes to Live Here." (Factiva)

XE. 24 June 2013. "XE Currency Converter." <http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=100&From=SGD&To=CAD> [Accessed 24 June 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources:Attempts to contact three law firms in Singapore were unsuccessful.

Internet sites, including:Factiva; Singapore – Consulate in Toronto, Consulate in Vancouver; www.multiplecitizenship.com.

Attachments

1. Singapore. 2009. "The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Articles 123 (1)) & (Article 123 (2)). The Singapore Citizenship Rules 1985. (Rule 4)." (Form SCRA, 07/2009). Sent in correspondence from the Consulate of Singapore in Vancouver.

2. _____. September 2012. "Form 4. Application for Permanent Residence in Singapore." Sent in correspondence from the Consulate of Singapore in Vancouver.

3. _____. September 2012. "Explanatory Notes. Application for Permanent Residence for Spouse and/or Children of a Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident." <http://www.ica.gov.sg/data/resources/docs/PR%20Services/XplanatoryFTS.pdf> [Accessed 15 May 2013]