SINGAPORE — From 2021 to 2022, the Ministry of Manpower approved an average of about 1,100 applications per year from current or former work permit holders to marry Singapore citizens or permanent residents,” stated Dr Tan See Leng, the Minister for Manpower.
Dr Tan was responding to questions put forward by the Workers’ Party member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, Ms Sylvia Lim, on Thursday (6 Jul).
Ms Lim sought information on (a) the number of current and former work permit holders who have been granted approval to marry Singaporeans in the last two years, segmented by gender; (b) the industries in which these approved spouses are employed; and (c) the criteria used in the decision-making process for such applications.
Dr Tan mentioned that 84% of the approved applicants were female, but he did not provide specifics about the industries these approved spouses worked in.
In terms of the evaluation process, Dr Tan emphasized that all marriage applications are assessed holistically, considering the applicants’ ability to support themselves and their families.
According to the Ministry of Manpower’s statistics, as of December 2022, there are 1,033,500 work permit holders in Singapore, of which 268,500 are migrant domestic workers.
The issue of why work permit holders are required to seek ministry approval to marry Singapore citizens or permanent residents, a rule not applicable to S Pass and Employment Pass holders, was previously raised by People’s Action Party MP for Nee Soon GRC, Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang, in March 2020.
Then-Manpower Minister, Mrs Josephine Teo, had explained that work pass holders are generally transient and those wishing to reside in Singapore long-term must meet stringent criteria – criteria which Work Permit holders are less likely to fulfill compared to Employment or S Pass holders.
Mrs Teo further clarified that marriage to a Singapore citizen or permanent resident doesn’t automatically confer the right of long-term stay in the country.
Therefore, in certain cases, it is more prudent to signal this explicitly by not permitting the marriage in the first place, said Mrs Teo.
However, she noted that about 8 in 10 work permit holders have been granted approval to marry a Singapore citizen or permanent resident over the past five years, leading up to 2020.