Fewer Foreign Brides in Singapore


There are fewer foreign brides in Singapore. 4,828 Singapore men married a non-resident wife in 2015. This is the lowest number since 2005. In 2005, the number was 5,611.

17% of all marriages in Singapore involved a Singaporean groom and a non-resident bride. In 2005, the figure was 24%.

What caused the decline in number of foreign brides in Singapore?

The Straits Times interviewed Andy (not his real name). According to Andy, his ex-wife, a Chinese national, married him only to become a Singapore permanent resident (PR). Andy’s ex-wife, a teacher, was loving during their dating days. The former couple dated for a year. However, things changed after the couple solemnized and registered their marriage. The lady did not show up for their wedding banquet with the excuse that she had to return to her home country as an accident had happened at home. When she returned, she wilfully refused to consummate the marriage because Andy was “fat and ugly”. Andy then realised his folly and decided on a divorce. The woman offered not to ask for alimony (maintenance) if Andy assisted her in applying her Singapore citizenship.

Stories as such are apparently making Singaporean men think twice about marrying a foreign spouse.

Statistics shows that over 9 in 10 foreign brides in Singapore are from Asia, and most of them are from developing countries. The Singaporean men often met their wives through friends or matchmaking agencies. They tend to be older, blue collar and possibly having difficulties finding a partner in Singapore.

Professionals interviewed gave different reasons for the decrease in numbers.

  1. According to marriage counsellors, some couples did not proceed with getting married after attending marriage preparation classes introduced by the government for couples going through transnational marriages. These couples realized that they should not enter marriages blindly and idealistically.
  2. Further, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) introduced the marriage long-term visit pass assessment. Couples will gain a better understanding of each other’s background. A to-be foreign spouse would also get an idea on whether he/ she is likely to qualify for PR status or a long-term visit pass in Singapore.

However, despite the above reasons, there are Singaporean men who are blissfully married to foreign spouses. The Straits Times interviewed Singaporean Ken Lai, 49, who is married to Xu Xueling, 26, Chinese national. They dated for 3 years before getting married. While the couple are living a happy married life, Xu’s PR application was rejected and this remains a concern for them.

Lai, when interviewed, said: “”My wife is still young, so I give in to her quite a bit. When she does something wrong, I will explain to her what I am unhappy about as well,”

See: Theresa Tan, “Fewer Singaporean men finding love with foreign wives”, The Straits Times, 13 November 2016

As a family lawyer in Singapore, I have always believed that it is important for a couple to understand each other before they get married. I agree with the initiatives by the government to help transnational couples achieve that understanding prior to their marriage.

Lai has done well in this respect- through understanding and helping his wife understand.

You may also be interested to read more about:

1. Divorce and Separation

2. Annulment (Nullity) of Marriage

3. Children’s Issues

4. Matrimonial Assets

5. Maintenance Issues (Alimony)

6. Family Violence

For more information, please contact us here.


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