Helping local-foreign couples settle in
FROM DEC 1:
The Marriage Preparation Programme
Offered at the Registry of Marriages, the 2½ hour programme will help Singaporean-foreigner couples better manage their finances and improve communication.
They will also learn to manage conflicts and their expectations regarding married life.
Couples marrying at the Registry of Muslim Marriages can sign up for a course customised for Muslim Singaporean-foreigner couples.
The Marriage Support Programme
This eight-hour programme aims to help couples manage cross-cultural differences.
Foreign spouses will also get help learning conversational language skills and receive advice on finding jobs to help with family finances.
FROM JAN 1:
Shorter processing times for a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP)
Couples will be allowed to submit an application for a Letter of LTVP Eligibility, which will be valid for a year before they get married.
Under this process, the wait for an LTVP to be issued will be reduced to up to six weeks, instead of six months or more for couples who only submit their application after marriage.
Easier for foreign spouses with LTVPs to find work
They will be issued a Letter of Consent from the Manpower Ministry, which will allow them to work in Singapore.
However, they will not be counted against the foreign worker quota of their employers. Their employers also do not have to pay the foreign worker's levy on them.
By the numbers:
Marriages between Singaporeans and non-residents
Between Singaporean men and foreign women:
Between Singaporean women and foreign men:
ICA takes tough stance against sham marriages
Those thinking of abusing the new system will not have it so easy. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said it will prosecute errant couples and middlemen involved in marriages of convenience.
Responding to queries from The New Paper, an ICA spokesman said that the Immigration Act was amended in 2012 to enhance the immigration authority's capabilities to stay ahead of the changing strategies of immigration offenders.
He added: "The new law has a specific provision... to criminalise marriages of convenience.
"(Last year), 124 people were convicted for marriages of convenience under the new provision... while another 160 were convicted for false declaration."
He also said that ICA will conduct detailed background assessments and thorough investigations before taking action.
The spokesman added: "The ICA will work closely with the Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Registry of Marriages to investigate such cases."