Late last week, I was nothing less than absolutely stunned to read an email from ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore) stating that my mother-in-law's application for a long term social visit pass had not been successful!
My wife's mother, retired and wanting to spend a few months in Singapore to assist with the care of her newest grandson, was completely as bewildered as me at the response, which leaves for no right of reply or appeal, nor is the decision in anyway explained or justified to us. So in one month, my mother-in-law will be packing her bag and returning to Shanghai with the sad knowledge that she will need to wait until Chinese New Year, 2011 to be able to see her Grandchildren again.
So why the bold headline? - PUNISHED FOR BEING PR? - You see, three years ago, when our earlier child was born in Singapore under the exact same circumstances (that is, same hospital, same processes, etc) I was residing in Singapore under an Employment Pass with my wife and son on Dependants Passes, we applied for a long-term Visit Pass for my mother-in-law for which we were approved and received the 'in-principal' approval letter in a very short time frame.
Now that we are Permanent Residents, the application process if obviously different - in fact it's no longer the Ministry of Manpower to which we need to apply, but rather the ICA - so I am not naive enough to assume that this is a direct 'apples to apples' comparison of our situation...
However after taking into account all the differences in approval processes, I am wondering if this is in fact some form of punishment for moving from Employment Pass to Permanent Resident - to speculate on any other reason is actually quite frightening... let me summarize some of the key things floating in my head right now and allow you, dear readers, to draw your own conclusions:
1. Application for Long Term Social Visit Pass is to ICA and not MoM
2. As an EP Holder, I can apply as sponsor for my Mother-In-Law, but as PRs this is not allowed and my wife (home-maker) needs to apply as sponsor
3. Our combined family income is very strong and in fact, even significantly higher than three years ago
4. We are PRs that contribute in numerous ways to society - financially, through charity and community work, integration and also my personal commitment to partnering with different sections of the Government to promote SG as a great place to live, work, play and study - locally and abroad - and also mentoring to new SG residents and expats; just to name a few
5. I cannot help but wonder if it was me applying for my own mother, whether the pass would have been successful or rejected?
6. I could (if I wanted) employ another foreign domestic helper to help look after my mother-in-law's grandchildren - a foreigner who is allowed to stay in the country for very long periods but does not have any association or knowledge of our family - or us have any knowledge of their safety or background... this actually raises more concern for me than anything.
Anyway, despite the setback and disappointment of the Grandmother of a new-born baby being denied the extra time with her Grandson, we will continue to take this in our stride and write this episode off as some kind of 'hiccup' in an otherwise quite effective and efficient department.
A long-term, old-school online presence coming out of haitus. Having lived all around the world, Florida is now home, everywhere we lived is in our hearts!