SINGAPORE: Marriages between Singaporeans and foreigners are "as resilient" as marriages between citizens, said Minister of State for Social and Family Development (MSF) Sam Tan in Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 15).
The divorce rates for transnational marriages before the fifth and 10th year anniversaries are comparable to those for Singaporean marriages from the same cohorts.
Mr Tan was responding to questions filed by Nominated Members of Parliament (MPs) Anthea Ong and Mohamed Irshad on transnational marriages and support given to these families.
"We recognise that marriages between Singapore citizens and non-residents may face unique challenges, such as cross-cultural differences," Mr Tan said.
He mentioned three initiatives set up by MSF to help such couples - the Marriage Preparation Programme (MPP), Marriage Support Programme (MSP) and Friendship Programme (FP).
Under the FP, trained volunteers are matched to non-resident spouses to help them integrate into Singapore. More than 85 per cent of non-resident spouses participants reported that the programme has helped them adjust to living in Singapore, Mr Tan said.
The MPP focuses on key marital issues such as roles and expectations, communication, and conflict management, while the MSP follows up on the MPP post-marriage by helping non-resident spouses adapt to life in Singapore.
Mr Tan added that these programmes are "well-received", with more than 98 per cent of the MPP participants saying that it has prepared them for marriage and that they could apply what they have learned to their marriage.
More than 97 per cent of the MSP participants said that the programme has helped non-resident spouses adjust to living in Singapore.
Mr Tan added that MSF is reviewing the MPP and MSP to find out if there are any shortcomings or room for improvement.
On employment, Mr Tan said that over the last three years, an average of 14,000 non-resident spouses holding Long Term Visit Passes were employed in Singapore each year with a consent letter issued by the Ministry of Manpower.
This figure includes non-resident grooms and brides married to either Singaporeans or Permanent Residents.
If these couples decide to divorce, Mr Tan said that ICA would generally facilitate the non-resident spouse's continued stay in Singapore through a renewable Long Term Visit Pass as long as they have custody over young children.
"This is to allow them to care for their Singaporean children here," Mr Tan said.
"They can seek support from community agencies for a range of financial assistance and social services, and approach Social Service Offices for an assessment of their needs," he added.