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Setting up home with a foreign spouse in Singapore

See what our community is saying about the steps to take to settle down with a non-resident spouse here!

Given how globalised Singapore is, it comes as no surprise that more than 1 in 3 marriages here are transnational – a marriage between a Singaporean(SC) and a non-citizen(NC).

Arriving at a big milestone such as a marriage can be overwhelming, and even more so when there are lots of extra paperwork and applications to fulfil for a foreign spouse.

One official website that you absolutely must rely on for official guidelines and forms is the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) page.

Use this list of acronyms to navigate you through the relatively complex naming conventions:

SCSingapore Citizen
NCNon - Citizen
ICAImmigrations & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore
LTVPLong Term Visitor’s Pass
PMLAPre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) Assessment
LLELetter of LTVP Eligibility
e-VPAAelectronic-Visit Pass (Long-Term) Assessment & Application
MSFMinistry of Social and Family Development
MOMMinistry of Manpower
LOCLetter of Consent
HDBHousing & Development Board
PRPermanent Resident

Don’t get too fazed by all the acronyms, it gets easier over time!

PRE-MARRIAGE

Pre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) Assessment (PMLA)

  • Estimated waiting time: Up to 4 weeks

Once you and your NC partner have decided to settle down in Singapore, things will start kicking in in stages.

It is a common misconception that marrying an SC grants the NC citizenship or permanent-residency automatically, which is not the case. For better clarity on whether your NC partner will qualify for long-term stay in Singapore, it is highly recommended that you both apply for the pre-marriage long-term visit pass assessment.

Couples who are successful in their assessment will be issued with a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) and may proceed to apply for the LTVP after they are legally married.

How to apply online through the Visit Pass (Long-Term) Assessment & Application (e-VPAA) system:

Step 1Your prospective SC spouse logs on to e-VPAA system
(www.ica.gov.sg) using SingPass to complete Part 1
of the PMLA form. A user ID and password will be generated.
Step 2You log on to e-VPAA system (using the user ID
and password generated in Step 1) to read the
information in Part 1 of the PMLA form
and complete Part 2 of the form.
Step 3Your prospective SC spouse logs on to e-VPAA system
to read the information in Part 2 of the PMLA form.
He or she then submits the form to ICA for assessment.
  • Submission of PMLA is free of charge.
  • Processing time takes up to 4 weeks.
  • Couples who are successful in the PMLA will receive a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) valid for one year.
  • The LLE does not constitute the approval of an LTVP. If you decide to stay in Singapore on an LTVP after marriage, your SC spouse can submit a formal LTVP application to ICA.

After marriage, couples can use the same system to apply for an LTVP.

Begin your application for the PMLA here.

Marriage Preparation Programmes

  • Estimated waiting time: By appointment availability

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provide both pre and post marriage programmes for SC and NC couples to fully prepare for life in Singapore.

Some couples whose Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) applications are approved may be required to attend these programmes in order to complete formalities for LTVP.

For couples who are about to get engaged or are in the midst of planning your weddings, these hacks should give you more clarity in preparing.

POST-MARRIAGE

Foreign Spouse Seeking Employment

  • Estimated waiting time: 1-3 months

When the NR(with a valid LTVP) secures a job, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will issue a Letter of Consent (LOC) to them. This means that the foreign worker levy or quota is not required.

Buying or renting a home

  • Estimated waiting time: 6-8 months

The Housing Development Board (HDB) is responsible for public housing in Singapore. If you and your foreign spouse are considering government housing, use this e-Service to check your eligibility to purchase a new or resale flat.

There are several schemes in place for SC-SC marriages, but these are the two schemes to look out for for SC-NC couples:

Eligibility SchemeNew FlatsResale Flats
Non-citizen spouse scheme2-room flexi flats in mature estateAll resale flat types except ECs that are <10 years old
Public SchemeNo restriction on flat typeAll resale flat types

The Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme is unfortunately only available to SC-NR couples for certain types of HDB flats only.

The Public Scheme, on the other hand, opens more doors to you in terms of flat types. Under the Public Scheme, you’ll need to form a ‘family nucleus’ with at least one SC or SPR.

A house is a big ticket item, so you and your spouse should first check the amount of loan you will be eligible for. You can do so by obtaining a HDB Loan Eligibility Letter or In-Principal Approval from the Bank. This will allow you to have a better idea of your budget before starting to look for your dream home.

Permanent Residency (PR)

  • Estimated waiting time: 6-10 months, strictly by appointment only

Finally, NCs who have obtained the LTVP and wish to extend their stay in Singapore permanently may do so by applying for Permanent Residency (PR).

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