Foreign spouses will not be entitled to or automatically granted a long-term pass, permanent residence or citizenship, when wedded with a Singaporean citizen.
This was Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Wong Kan Seng's response to Member of Parliament (MP) Ms Irene Ng's query at Parliament on whether foreign wives will be granted a long-term social visit pass after marriage so that they are not forced to return to their home countries.
"The key consideration is whether the Singaporean can support his or her foreign spouse financially," said the Deputy Prime Minister.
"Each application for long-term stay is carefully assessed and evaluated on its own merits."
In the past 5 years, the success rate of foreign spouses applying for a long-term visit pass is a high 86%.
MP Ng also raised the issue of foreign brides becoming victims of abuse of trafficking, given the rising number of low-income Singaporean men who take women in nearby countries as wives.
In response, DPM Wong assured that foreign wives of Singaporean men have equal protection under the law as Singaporean wives.
He said: "There are laws in Singapore to protect women against abuse and criminal offences, including trafficking, prostitution and family violence"; adding that, "errant husbands who violate these laws will be firmly dealt with."
However, the Police has not received any reports from foreign brides alleged to be victims of trafficking to date.
Women abused, whether Singaporeans or foreigners, can apply to the Courts for a Personal Protection Order (PPO) to restrain their husbands from using violence against them, under the Women's Charter.
If uncertain, the Police can advise affected women on how to apply for a PPO, and refer the abused spouse to a crisis shelter or family service centre, if the case is serious.
Prostitution and Trafficking
Provisions against prostitution and trafficking of women and girls comes under the Women's Charter and Penal Code.
These provisions can be invoked against unscrupulous agencies which engage in the prostitution of foreign brides under the guise of matchmaking. In addition, the Penal Code also protects minors under 21 years old from being bought or sold for the purposes of prostitution.
Minister Wong said: "Singapore has a very strict regime to combat the problem of Trafficking in Persons or 'TIP'."
Tough enforcement actions and security checks are conducted at checkpoints serve to deter and detect the movement of illegal immigrants in and out of Singapore. On the international front, Police leverages on intelligence sources and proactively engages foreign embassies and other organisations such as INTERPOL and overseas law enforcement agencies to develop mechanisms to prevent and identify potential victims of trafficking.