SINGAPORE - Foreign spouses of Singaporeans will be able to start applying for the Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) before marriage from January 1 next year.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the change is to allow Singaporean-foreigner couples to better plan for the future, and to have better knowledge about financial and other important information about their would-be spouses.
The form requires information such as education background, previous marriages and past criminal records to be disclosed, The Straits Times reported.
Currently, the application process for the LTVP starts only after marriage. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will also introduce new programmes to better support such cross-cultural marriages and the foreign spouses who qualify for long term stay to adjust to Singapore.
In another change announced by the Ministry of Manpower on Friday, employers who wish to hire someone who is a foreign spouse staying here on a long-term pass will no longer have to treat them as a foreign worker, reported The Straits Times.
This means that such individuals will not be counted against the foreign worker quota - and employers will not need to pay the foreign workers' levy when employing them.
Revised LTVP Process
According to the statement, under the revised process, prospective Singaporean-foreigner couples are encouraged to jointly submit an application for a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) before marriage.
The joint application will also help prospective spouses have sufficient pertinent information about each other before committing to marriage. Those who are assessed by ICA to be eligible for LTVP based on the information submitted will be issued a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) that is valid for one year.
Couples can then use the LLE to support their application for an LTVP after marriage. Couples who do not go through the LLE application process can still apply for an LTVP after marriage, but could face a longer processing time of six months or more when they submit an LTVP application.
The LTVP applications will continue to be assessed based on prevailing criteria.
In addition, a Marriage Support Programme will be introduced from Dec 1, 2014 to help couples manage cross-cultural differences as they settle down. It will offer conversational language skills to the foreign spouse, and point out avenues to seek job opportunities to help with family finances. Buddies, who are volunteers trained to assist cross-cultural couples, will be present at these programmes to befriend them.