Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates

Last updated on January 14, 2021

man with suitcase looking at plane flying

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. Drafting a Deed of Separation in Singapore (Instead of Divorcing)
  2. Alternatives to Divorce in Singapore: A Practical Guide
  3. Process for Getting Divorced in Singapore (With Diagram)
  4. What are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Divorce?
  5. 3 Finance Questions To Ask Before a Divorce
  6. Practical Preparations for a Divorce
  7. How to Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage in Singapore
  8. Getting a Divorce Due to “Irreconcilable Differences” in Singapore
  9. Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
  10. How Can I Divorce Overseas?
Divorce Fees
  1. Comprehensive Guide to Divorce Fees in Singapore
Getting a Divorce Lawyer
  1. 7 Experienced Female Divorce Lawyers in Singapore (2021)
  2. The Complete Guide to Choosing a Good Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  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
  6. First Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer: What to Bring
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. Your Spouse Doesn't Want to Divorce: What to Do
  2. Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage
  3. Simplified Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce in Singapore
  4. Mandatory Parenting Programme Guide for Divorcing Parents
  5. Divorce Mediation in Singapore
  6. Divorce Application: What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot be Found
Application for Divorce Part 2: Ancillary Matters (Maintenance, Assets, Custody)
  1. Procedure for Ancillary Matters
  2. Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce
  3. Filling in a Matrimonial Property Plan for a Singapore Divorce
  4. Dividing Matrimonial Assets in a Singapore Divorce
  5. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after Divorce?
  6. What Happens to Gifts Between Spouses During a Divorce?
  7. What Happens to Property and Assets Located Overseas Upon a Divorce in Singapore?
  8. Child Custody, Care and Control & Access: Singapore Guide
  9. Getting Divorced: Child Maintenance in Singapore
  10. Singapore Divorcee's Guide to Relocating Your Child Overseas
Post-Divorce
  1. How to Appeal Your Divorce Case in Singapore
  2. Divorce Certs in Singapore: How to Get a Copy and Other FAQs
  3. Transfer of Matrimonial Home to Ex-Spouse After Divorce
  4. Can Divorcees Buy or Rent HDB Flats, and How?
  5. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance
  6. Variation of Maintenance Orders in Singapore
  7. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child
  8. Division of CPF Assets (Monies, House, Investments) After a Divorce
Expatriate Divorce
  1. Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates
  2. Can Foreigners Divorce in Singapore?
  3. Expat or Foreigner Divorce in Singapore: 10 Legal Issues to Consider
  4. Hague Convention: Overseas Child Abduction in Singapore Divorce
  5. Case Study: Cross-Border Child Custody and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction
  6. Can British Expats in Singapore Choose to Divorce in England?
  7. Divorce for British Expats: Approach to Matrimonial and Non-Matrimonial Assets in England vs Singapore
  8. Divorce for British Expats: How the English Courts Deal with Financial Matters
Muslim or Syariah Divorce
  1. Fasakh in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore: Grounds & Process
  2. Divorce by Cerai Taklik: Guide for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  3. Muslim Divorce in Singapore
  4. Talak in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore (and Its Effects)
  5. Guide to Divorcing by Khuluk for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  6. Applying for Nafkah Idaah and Mutaah in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Other divorce matters
  1. Guide to Personal Protection Orders in Singapore
  2. Case Study - Love conquers All: The Divorce That Didn’t Happen
Annulment
  1. Annulling a Singapore Marriage: Requirements and Process
  2. What Happens to Your HDB Flat After an Annulment?
Separation
  1. Separation in Singapore Via Deed of Separation and More
  2. Judicial or Legal Separation in Singapore: When and How to File
Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  1. Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore
  2. Should You Make a Post-Nuptial Agreement in Singapore?