Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates

Last updated on August 31, 2018

Divorce proceedings can be a painful process wrought with emotion for both parties. To make things worse, being alone in a foreign country, away from close friends and relatives, can make divorce an incredibly challenging experience for expatriates in Singapore. One of the many implications of expats choosing to terminate their marriage in Singapore is their immigration status.

Your Immigration Status Following a Divorce

Scenario 1: Both you and your spouse are non-Singaporeans

If your spouse decided to move to Singapore to work and you chose to move with him/her, you would have been granted a pass to stay in Singapore. You would have been a holder of either an Employment Pass or a Dependant’s Pass.

An Employment Pass would have been granted if you had a job offer in Singapore as well and met the relevant eligibility criteria. If so, your immigration status would be unaffected by the divorce and you can choose to remain in Singapore after the divorce.

Conversely, you would have been given a Dependant’s Pass upon entering Singapore if you did not plan on working here. In most cases, this is likely the case. Many expatriate women are home-makers and thus are entirely reliant on their husbands, often the breadwinner of the family. If so, your ability to remain here would depend on your status as a spouse.

Therefore following the divorce, your Dependant’s Pass would be cancelled and you will have to leave the country within 14 days. Should you wish to remain in Singapore, you can look for a job locally and apply for an Employment Pass.

As for your child, his/her Dependant’s Pass may remain valid if it was tied to your working ex-spouse’s pass. As a result if you do not seek employment locally after your Dependant’s Pass has been cancelled, you would be forced to leave the country, leaving your child behind, even if you have custody and care and control over your child.

Scenario 2: Your spouse is a Singaporean

If your spouse is a Singaporean and you entered Singapore on a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP), it will likely be revoked following the divorce as well.

This is because the LTVP requires proof of marriage and sponsorship by your spouse for renewal. Hence should you wish to remain in Singapore, you should similarly seek employment.

Returning to Your Home Country after a Divorce?

Following a divorce in Singapore, you may desire to return to your home country to start afresh. If you have been given custody and care and control over your child, you may be considering returning with the child as well. However, there are some restrictions before you can do so.

Under section 126(3) and (4) of the Women’s Charter, the child may not be taken out of the country for more than one month unless there is written consent from both parents, or leave of the court.

In most cases, it is unusual for a spouse to obtain consent from his/her ex-spouse to take the child out of the country. This is because your ex-spouse would want to maintain contact with your child. Hence it is likely that your child will have to remain in Singapore.

Without consent from your ex-spouse or having applied for leave from the Court, if you bring your child with you back to your homeland, it may constitute international child abduction.

To be sure, you should consult a divorce lawyer prior to taking any action. Alternatively, expatriate women may approach AWARE Singapore, which provides practical help for expatriate women experiencing a divorce in Singapore.

Before getting a divorce
  1. How to Get a Divorce in Singapore in 2019: Process and Requirements
  2. How Can I Divorce Overseas?
  3. Mandatory Parenting Programme Guide for Divorcing Parents
  4. Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
  5. How to Get a Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage
  6. Personal Protection Orders (PPOs), Expedited Orders (EOs) and Domestic Exclusion Orders (DEOs) in Singapore
  7. Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore
  8. What are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Divorce?
  9. Separation in Singapore
  10. Annulment of Marriage in Singapore
  11. Practical Preparations for a Divorce
  12. 3 Finance Questions To Ask Before a Divorce
Divorce Fees
  1. Comprehensive Guide to Divorce Fees in Singapore (Updated Sep 2018)
Getting a Divorce Lawyer
  1. The Complete Guide to Choosing a Good Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  2. First Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer: What to Bring
  3. Don’t Just Go for the Cheapest Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  4. Find Experienced Divorce Lawyers in Singapore
  5. Child Custody Lawyers in Singapore
Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
  1. How to Prove Adultery for Divorce Purposes in Singapore
  2. Getting a Divorce: How to Prove Desertion
  3. How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour
  4. How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce
Application for Divorce Part I: Dissolution of Marriage
  1. Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage
  2. Divorce Mediation in Singapore
  3. Divorce Application: What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot be Found
  4. Simplified Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce in Singapore
Application for Divorce Part 2: Ancillary Matters (Maintenance, Assets, Custody)
  1. Procedure for Ancillary Matters
  2. What Happens to Gifts Between Spouses During a Divorce?
  3. What Happens to Property and Assets Located Overseas Upon a Divorce in Singapore?
  4. Getting Divorced: Child Maintenance in Singapore
  5. Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce
  6. The Guide to Child Custody, Care and Control, and Access in Singapore
  7. How Does the Court Divide Matrimonial Assets in a Singapore Divorce?
Post-divorce
  1. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after Divorce?
  2. Variation of Maintenance Orders in Singapore
  3. Division of CPF Assets (Monies, House, Investments) after a Divorce
  4. Divorce Certificates in Singapore: How to Get a Copy and Other FAQs
  5. Transfer of Matrimonial Home to Ex-Spouse After Divorce
  6. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child
  7. What Happens If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance?
Expatriate Divorce
  1. Can Foreigners Divorce in Singapore?
  2. Expat or Foreigner Divorce in Singapore: 10 Legal Issues to Consider
  3. Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates
  4. Hague Convention in Singapore: Overseas Child Abduction in Divorce
  5. Case Study: Cross-Border Child Custody and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction
Muslim or Syariah Divorce
  1. Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Other divorce matters
  1. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after an Annulment?
  2. Case Study - Love conquers All: The Divorce That Didn’t Happen