Visa application

To work or stay for a longer period of time in Singapore you, of course, need a visa. The visa application to work in Singapore is fairly straight forward (if you have been in the “getting visa business” before) and having NTU as a sponsor made the process really easy. However, since I was going to bring my family and needed dependent visas for them. In my first contacts with NTU we started to discuss the visa and the problem that me and my partner are not married but, what we in Sweden call, a “Sambo”, meaning that we live together more, or less, as a married couple. This is the closest thing that we in Sweden have to what is usually known as a common-law marriage. Realizing that only my (then unborn baby) could get a Dependent Visa to Singapore (since the baby is, even under the laws of Singapore, mine), but my partner couldn’t since we were not married. Nevertheless, there are a visa for common-law supposes called “long term visit pass“, which we were aiming for. This being practically the same as a dependent visa both could be applied for by a broader audience.

After we found this visa, we also realized the next problem – in Sweden we do not have a certificate for a common-law marriage or a “sambo”. This being, one of the alternatives for the document we could provide was a notarized self-written statement about our situation. I contacted the Swedish Embassy in Singapore for assistance in the matter, since I thought they had some experience. After a couple of days I got an email saying that they could help us with a letter if we could provide an extract of the population register saying that we live at the same address (and had been doing so for a longer period of time) and copies of our passport. The letter had to be collected at the Swedish Embassy in Singapore (+ an administrative fee of 30 SGD) and was done during the recce to Singapore in March. The Swedish Embassy in Singapore is on a parallel street to Orchard Road and is pretty easy to find.

There were three different Visa applications, using three different application forms, to be submitted:

  • For me: Employment Pass (for sponsorship cases)
  • For my partner: Long Term Visit Pass
  • For the baby: Dependant’s Pass

When the forms were completed and signed, most of the Visa process was done by NTU and took about two months to complete before the Visas were issued. The only thing that was bit of a problem by the end of the day was that we needed medical examinations including chest x-ray to prove we do not carry active TB. This was not super easy task to accomplish in Sweden since most of our health care is tax funded and it is not easy to get (more advanced) medical examination for money. However, asking around among friends we found a clinic that shot x-ray when flashing your credit card.

When applying for a Visa, don’t forget:

  • Copies of passports
  • Recent passport photos (taking your own photos work)
  • Certificates that prove that you are married, in a common law marriage (see above to solve this problem if you’re Swedish), that you are the father/mother/legal guardian of a child etc. most of these can be printed (or ordered) from the website of the Swedish Tax Agency.

First tip of the day: Don’t procrastinate! Start with the Visa process as soon as possible, it tends to take much longer than anticipated especially when having a full-time job and a family to take care of at the same time. Bring everything signed and ready when visiting Singapore, it is so much easier to go through on site than over distance.

It took some time, but it was a great relief that all family members had in-principle approved Visas for Singapore before leaving Sweden.

When arriving in Singapore, we needed take the documents of our in-principle approved visas and trade them for residence cards. This needed to be done at the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC) at the Ministry of Manpower down by (one of my favourite areas to stay in Singapore) Clarke Quay. It was fairly straight forward to book a meeting for the whole family down at the service center. We passed on all the necessary documents, paid a (fairly hefty) fee, took some photos and signed some papers. Even though it took a fair bit of time, the staff was really friendly and nice and the air con was working like a charm.

Second tip of the day: You will need a local mobile number to have the cards delivered since they will (or rather must) send you a sms the day before the delivery (that is in person and needs to be signed). Without a local mobile number they cannot finalize the card process and you will (probably) need to go back downtown to the EPSC again at a later date. Hence, if you do not have a local Singaporean mobile number – get one before going to the EPSC. When buying a sim card you will need to have your passport present at point of sales to register the sim card. But otherwise there are no problem to buy a local sim as a foreigner. (Note: Some cards are mostly for tourists since they are less long-term then the ordinary ones, avoid these). We got $15 pre-paid card for StarHub, got some initial data and worked like a charm!

The delivery was very smooth, you just had to give the name(s) of the ones that was authorised to sign for the cards and they came straight to your front door. An email and sms was sent the day before the delivery with a five-hour delivery window.

Last, but not least, an enormous thanks to my administrative contacts at NTU. They were the black box between me filling in the papers and getting the in-principle approval of the visas. Thank you!

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