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Option to enter Singapore via familial ties lane no longer available for boyfriends, girlfriends of citizens and PRs

Option to enter Singapore via familial ties lane no longer available for boyfriends, girlfriends of citizens and PRs

Passengers arrive at Singapore Changi Airport on Jun 8, 2020. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The option to enter Singapore via the familial ties lane is no longer available for boyfriends or girlfriends of Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

The “boyfriend/girlfriend of Singapore citizen/Singapore permanent resident” category under the familial ties lane was removed in March this year, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Friday (Jul 16).  

In response to queries from CNA, the authority said this was done in view of the evolving border control measures, and as part of its regular reviews on the requirements and application processes for travellers seeking entry into Singapore.

Questions were put to ICA after authorities said earlier on Friday that the first reported COVID-19 case in the KTV cluster, a Vietnamese short-term visit pass holder, entered Singapore in February via the familial ties lane.

READ: First reported COVID-19 case of KTV cluster entered Singapore via familial ties lane: ICA, MOM

“She was sponsored by a Singapore citizen who indicated in the application that he was her boyfriend,” said ICA in a statement clarifying its position.

This option under the familial ties lane was available back then.

“This was one of the expanded categories of profile allowed for inbound air travel, and was introduced in October 2020,” said ICA.

“It was to allow Singaporeans who are in relationships with foreign partners, to be reunited after being separated for long periods due to the pandemic.

“ICA had received many appeals from Singaporeans in this regard.”

A screenshot of the familial ties lane application form on Jul 16, 2021. (Image: Immigration and Checkpoints Authority website)

In addition to removing the category for boyfriends and girlfriends, ICA also implemented the use of Singpass log-in and security screening measures on the SafeTravel portal as part of the entry application process. 

“Similar to pre-COVID-19 days, foreigners are also assessed at the point of entry and dubious travellers will be refused entry even if they have prior entry approvals,” said ICA.

The agency said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it assesses applications to extend short-term visit passes on a "case-by-case basis taking into consideration extenuating reasons, such as international travel restrictions and flight availability".

It also takes into consideration whether the applicants have family ties in Singapore.

“We would like to remind members of the public to submit truthful and accurate information. ICA will not hesitate to take firm enforcement action against those found to have made false declarations,” it added.

READ: Growing KTV cluster of COVID-19 infections a 'major setback': Gan Kim Yong 

The first reported case in the KTV cluster was detected when she visited a Swab and Send Home clinic on Jul 11 with acute respiratory infection symptoms.

She was taken to a hospital after testing positive. Authorities later discovered through contact tracing that she had frequented many KTV outlets. Some of the COVID-19 cases in the cluster lived with her in the same household.

As of Friday, a total of 120 cases have been linked to the KTV cluster, making it the largest active cluster in the country.

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Source: CNA/zl(ta)

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