Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The rising number of marriages of convenience is starting to worry Singapore authorities.
Fifty-three people were convicted of offences related to marriages of convenience in 2017 – a 23.3 per cent spike from the year before, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in its annual statistics report.
One particular case last year takes centre stage in the report because it led to the arrest of 12 people. More specifically, when officers looked at a suspected sham marriage between a Singaporean man and his Vietnamese wife, they found five other such couples.
These couples all involved Singaporean men and Vietnamese women. The men, aged between 24 and 57, entered into marriage for money, whilst the women, aged between 23 and 34, wanted to prolong their stay in Singapore.
Ten were sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 18 months, whilst court proceedings are ongoing for the remaining two.
Singapore’s constitution severely restricts access to citizenship by foreigners, and naturalisation is not guaranteed.
Immigrants aged 21 and over who are gainfully employed can only become citizens if they are already “Permanent Residents” or have been married to a Singaporean citizen for at least two years.
Obtaining citizenship allows people to apply for a Singapore passport, now deemed “the most powerful” in the world. It guarantees visa-free access to 159 countries.
Last year, diplomatic agreements with Paraguay enshrined Singapore’s rise, the first Asian country in history to outrank European countries.