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ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

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ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

Postby chi11ax » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 11:59 am

Hi, I would like to know if I should appeal this ruling.

I have to leave Singapore for 3 months, before I come back. Now if everything is resolved after 3 months, I have no problem and will not even consider appealing.

Actually, I was planning to go out to travel more anyway starting in August, when my Singaporean girlfriend goes overseas for work.

So the situation isn't necessarily a bad one, other than I tend to store stuff at a relative's place in Singapore so I can travel lighter and this means it's tougher to access it in the 3 months. No big issue. I guess I'll just bring more stuff with me.

HOWEVER if I'm going to still have problems after the three months, then I wonder if I should appeal the ruling on the following grounds:

Apparently my passport is flagged for jumping between Singapore and Malaysia too often.

Now, jumping isn't without reason. One half of my family is in Singapore the other half is in Malaysia. I had friends come visit Singapore and especially at the start of the 8 months in Asia listed on my passport, I jumped around quite a few times.

I have a girlfriend in Singapore and apparently we went to Johor on two day trips which I think didn't help either. I guess the problem is once you're back, family, whom I haven't seen in over 20 years, and friends call to hang out, etc. So I stay the 20 days.

I have *never* broken the 30 day limit though.

Unfortunately, during the interview, I think none of this went through. The interviewer pretty much went with repeating two sentences.

"You have been traveling for eight months, GO HOME!"

I felt she had no jurisdiction telling me to "go home". She could say I'm not permitted for 30 days, etc, but "go home" isn't one of them.

In fact, even when I was asking the lady out front who stamped my passport what my options were, the interview who happened to be outside, yelled "go home".

"Malaysia isn't travelling"

Like I said, I do visit my relatives and many other towns in Malaysia. However, she just kept repeating "Malaysia isn't travelling".

Questioning went more or less like this:

"What are your travel plans?"
*I think a bit to give a well formed answer*
"Where are you going next?"
"Possibly Batam ..." (Which I did list as my next destination)
"Do you have a ticket home?"
"No"
"GO HOME" etc ....

As you can see, my "travel plans" were no longer an issue, just "go home" because she just didn't wait for my answer.

If she waited, she'd have known about my travel plans end of August (in Malaysia) or in Cambodia in November.

Between now and then, I'm a backpacker, so I don't really plan too much.

I feel she was looking for questions to support her already formed opinion, rather than find out what the issue was.

I would have interrupted her to inject my points before, but I was focused on politely answering her questions because I had a wedding to attend in two days. I didn't want to irate her and get banned on the spot. (As it is, I was granted 7 days.)

She also frazzled me with some inaccurate facts about my passport. However, I wasn't keeping track of the timing of anything other than making sure I do not overstay my visa.

I have since logged my visits and reasons ... actually a good thing to have for you travellers just in case you run into these (in any country, not just Singapore) border agents with this attitude.

It's a lot easier to refute their inaccurate claims with listed fact than just "um, no ..." but no data in hand to refute it.

So again, the ICA ruling *result* doesn't bother me too much, other than having to cancel a few further appointments past the 7 days. Again, like I said, I have travel plans - just travelling two weeks early that's all. And the 3 month ban means a heavier load than normal.

However, the principle is, she thinks I'm just "U-Turning" and that visiting Malaysia "is not travelling". But the reasons for frequently jumping both countries - family in both countries, meeting overseas friends in SG, actually having travel plans within Malaysia, seem to have been lost ... but they should be relevant.

Should I appeal on those reasons? Or just stay out for at least 3 months and all will be resolved?

** edit ** Actually, more importantly than simply "principle", because she was quoting inaccurate facts about my passport and focused only on "Malaysia is not travelling" and not why I was travelling within Malaysia, and that she was insistent that "8 months is long enough" I "go home", although lots of people travel for years and she really has no right to decide how long I travel (only within Singapore she has the authority), I'm just worried about what kind of bullshit she might have included in my file.

Seems kinda sketchy. I really didn't expect this from Singapore. :(

I expected Singapore to be strict, but at least fair.
Last edited by chi11ax on Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

Postby zzm9980 » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:26 pm

chi11ax wrote:Hi, I would like to know if I should appeal this ruling.

I have to leave Singapore for 3 months, before I come back. Now if everything is resolved after 3 months, I have no problem and will not even consider appealing.

Actually, I was planning to go out to travel more anyway starting in August, when my Singaporean girlfriend goes overseas for work.

So the situation isn't necessarily a bad one, other than I tend to store stuff at a relative's place in Singapore so I can travel lighter and this means it's tougher to access it in the 3 months. No big issue. I guess I'll just bring more stuff with me.

HOWEVER if I'm going to still have problems after the three months, then I wonder if I should appeal the ruling on the following grounds:

Apparently my passport is flagged for jumping between Singapore and Malaysia too often.

Now, jumping isn't without reason. One half of my family is in Singapore the other half is in Malaysia. I had friends come visit Singapore and especially at the start of the 8 months in Asia listed on my passport, I jumped around quite a few times.

I have a girlfriend in Singapore and apparently we went to Johor on two day trips which I think didn't help either. I guess the problem is once you're back, family, whom I haven't seen in over 20 years, and friends call to hang out, etc. So I stay the 20 days.

I have *never* broken the 30 day limit though.

Unfortunately, during the interview, I think none of this went through. The interviewer pretty much went with repeating two sentences.

"You have been traveling for eight months, GO HOME!"

I felt she had no jurisdiction telling me to "go home". She could say I'm not permitted for 30 days, etc, but "go home" isn't one of them.

In fact, even when I was asking the lady out front who stamped my passport what my options were, the interview who happened to be outside, yelled "go home".

"Malaysia isn't travelling"

Like I said, I do visit my relatives and many other towns in Malaysia. However, she just kept repeating "Malaysia isn't travelling".

Questioning went more or less like this:

"What are your travel plans?"
*I think a bit to give a well formed answer*
"Where are you going next?"
"Possibly Batam ..." (Which I did list as my next destination)
"Do you have a ticket home?"
"No"
"GO HOME" etc ....

As you can see, my "travel plans" were no longer an issue, just "go home" because she just didn't wait for my answer.

If she waited, she'd have known about my travel plans end of August (in Malaysia) or in Cambodia in November.

Between now and then, I'm a backpacker, so I don't really plan too much.

I feel she was looking for questions to support her already formed opinion, rather than find out what the issue was.

I would have interrupted her to inject my points before, but I was focused on politely answering her questions because I had a wedding to attend in two days. I didn't want to irate her and get banned on the spot. (As it is, I was granted 7 days.)

She also frazzled me with some inaccurate facts about my passport. However, I wasn't keeping track of the timing of anything other than making sure I do not overstay my visa.

I have since logged my visits and reasons ... actually a good thing to have for you travellers just in case you run into these (in any country, not just Singapore) border agents with this attitude.

It's a lot easier to refute their inaccurate claims with listed fact than just "um, no ..." but no data in hand to refute it.

So again, the ICA ruling *result* doesn't bother me too much, other than having to cancel a few further appointments past the 7 days. Again, like I said, I have travel plans - just travelling two weeks early that's all. And the 3 month ban means a heavier load than normal.

However, the principle is, she thinks I'm just "U-Turning" and that visiting Malaysia "is not travelling". But the reasons for frequently jumping both countries - family in both countries, meeting overseas friends in SG, actually having travel plans within Malaysia, seem to have been lost ... but they should be relevant.

Should I appeal on those reasons? Or just stay out for at least 3 months and all will be resolved?


That was one of the longest, most rambling and incoherent posts I've ever read. And I've read a lot of posts by Squierrel (ecureilx).

So after reading all of that, I'm still not sure if ICA said you need to be outside of country for 3 months or you're just assuming that. And you didn't even tell us was where you're from. (Race, passport you have). Those things matter in Singapore. The fact that you have a girlfriend here does not.

I think ICA very clearly sees a pattern of someone border hoping to stay in Singapore as long as possible. Lots of people do this, primarily to find jobs. Sorry if you're the exception, but that's what they're seeing. Not having a ticket home, and going to JB and Batam (or telling her that's your plan) was probably not bright on your part. Those destinations are huge red flags for people just looking to hop in and out. (No one really goes to Batam for anything except golf or hookers anyway).


The only thing I can help with is a rule of thumb I've heard a few times (including from ICA unofficially) is that someone should be out of Singapore 6 months for every 3 months in.
Last edited by zzm9980 on Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:28 pm

To put it simply, ICA officers are god. They don't have to answer to anyone (just like the INS officers in the USofA). If they say you are banned for 3 or 6 months, just figure that that's life). They can ban you for as long as they want. It's their prerogative how to treat VISA abusers. I know of some who have been been banned for a year. (Multiple instances of doing visa runs and banned for 3 month intervals and then return to start the same practice all over again. The fact that it's Malaysia is, quite frankly, immaterial as it is a different country and you don't have a job here so therefore, you are a traveller (family here not withstanding, as you have no "immediate" family here and your girlfriend is of little consequence in these matters. Therefore trying to bite back at a perceived slight by the officers at ICA will only land you in more hot water and they are not obliged to give you a reason for the ban or for their justification.

My advice to you? Keep your mouth shut and just take the ban and learn from it. It will only get worse if you persist. You 'could' get permanently banned. That has also happened. Just words to the wise..... :-|

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Re: ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

Postby ecureilx » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:39 pm

chi11ax wrote:
I expected Singapore to be strict, but at least fair.


you sound like a nice guy :....

but your travel pattern will raise red flags ..

now if you were married or had some documents to show like your relatives on both side of the border they may have taken a second look

being sincere and law abiding is what you say, like the many Asians who swear they have no plan to stay permanently when they get interviewed for Australia / US visa, but once they go there they just decide to stay on

you are lucky for 3 months stay away, many get banned for 24 months ... or 12 months minimum ...

now if you been to your country in between you may have a case

now to appeal you can fill form 14! but wait there's a catch... you need a citizen or PR, related to you, to endorse it, not gf/bf ...

so back to square 1

get back home and come back with a return ticket,

I believe Singapore has been pretty lenient to you ... considering your story ...

zzm9980. thank you for your kind words :) :P

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Re: ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

Postby ecureilx » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:44 pm

zzm9980 wrote: Those destinations are huge red flags for people just looking to hop in and out. (No one really goes to Batam for anything except golf or hookers anyway).


The only thing I can help with is a rule of thumb I've heard a few times (including from ICA unofficially) is that someone should be out of Singapore 6 months for every 3 months in.


there are a few who so contract jobs on social visa ... ica knows but until they get tipped off, they can only stereotype ...

as for the stay-away, I had a friend who was told the stay away means go back to your country .. not stay in a third country and return

unfortunately a lot of abuse by others means ICA has to be strict ...

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Postby chi11ax » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:49 pm

I could have showed them my bank statements that I do get an income from home, (I work on web stuff ... which I did mention), file my taxes there (get the regular government refund deposits on the statements) and still have enough cash on hand to stay afloat for six months to a year if I didn't get the income.

None of that they asked. If they thought I was "job hunting" wouldn't they just ask that?

But anyway thanks for the tips. :)

I will avoid JB and Batam (which I have never been to yet) when I'm back after three months that's for sure!

The other reason I didn't state in my original post but did mention to them was also that my relatives were really old and in the time I have been here, 2 uncles and 1 aunt passed away already.

So coming back to Singapore to spend time with them is also important.

But yeah, I guess if there is no problems after 3 months, and I will at least visit here, but also a non-Singapore / Malaysia country in addition to the two, then I'll just suck it up.

Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate it!

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Re: ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

Postby chi11ax » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:51 pm

ecureilx wrote:
zzm9980 wrote: Those destinations are huge red flags for people just looking to hop in and out. (No one really goes to Batam for anything except golf or hookers anyway).


The only thing I can help with is a rule of thumb I've heard a few times (including from ICA unofficially) is that someone should be out of Singapore 6 months for every 3 months in.


there are a few who so contract jobs on social visa ... ica knows but until they get tipped off, they can only stereotype ...

as for the stay-away, I had a friend who was told the stay away means go back to your country .. not stay in a third country and return

unfortunately a lot of abuse by others means ICA has to be strict ...


Well, I am from half way around the world, so I did mention that it's a $2,000 round trip just to "go home".

Not quite cost effective for a backpacker in Asia. That's about 3 - 4 months expenses for me! (I live a pretty fugal backpacker existence. LOL)

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 1:08 pm

Frankly, it was the western backpacker and the Asian hookers who caused all the problems in the first place! I know. Back in the '80s & 90's I used to do the visa runs as well on occasion but it was a different story as there were hundreds or even thousands of oilfield hands (just like me) who worked month on/off rotations and lived in Singapore on SVPs. I lived here, married here, had three cars here and had two children here during the first 11 years I was here (on an SVP the whole time) before giving up the offshore oilfields for a desk in Singapore (and an EP). But that was then. After 2000 they started cracking down on the border runs to JB and it's gotten progressively tighter as the years have gone by.

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Re: ICA Tourist Visa Ruling .. should I appeal?

Postby ecureilx » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 1:10 pm

chi11ax wrote:[]

Well, I am from half way around the world, so I did mention that it's a $2,000 round trip just to "go home".

Not quite cost effective for a backpacker in Asia. That's about 3 - 4 months expenses for me! (I live a pretty fugal backpacker existence. LOL)


that your flight ticket is s expensive isn't ICA's headache :P

to be safe go back home and come back, as ICA suggested, home = your country of origin ... that is if you want to avoid any more headache in the future ..

oh,'why didn't they ask you if you are job hunting? because they know nobody will tell the truth ... and ICa staff know that ... why bother asking ...

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Postby zzm9980 » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 1:15 pm

Do you happen to have a blog about all of the places you've back-packed to, including two posts about Singapore. One about what a paradise it is, followed by a second post talking about the abused foreign labor you met in a hostel?

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 2:58 pm

Your 'travel plans' seem engineered simply to extend your stay in SG. You're visiting SG on the basis of being a tourist but are effectively living here. Where are you staying during your time here, a hotel or your girlfriends place? If the latter that just highlights what you're doing.

You suggest you are working, but presumably this is some kind of remote work over the internet. You are still trying to live here, as a tourist - receiving an income back home changes nothing.

<i>"Do you have a ticket home?"
"No"
"GO HOME" etc ....
As you can see, my "travel plans" were no longer an issue, just "go home" because she just didn't wait for my answer.</i>


And there's the problem, you have no ticket home, or apparently any plan to go there. In the absence of which you're a tourist, trying to make SG your home, and that's not allowed.

ICA have called your number, so be very aware that if you flag up to them again they might well just ban you, longer-term, and perhaps even permanently. I'd suggest you resolve the reason for visiting here so frequently as it won't be permitted for much longer as is.


- I went through similar with travel to the US, many years ago now. The shakedown that I was finally given was perhaps one of the more aggressive (intentionally so I'm sure) and unpleasant couple of hours I've spent so far in my lifetime of travelling far and wide. Makes your experience sound like being invited in for a 'cup of tea and a polite chat'...

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Postby beppi » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 3:05 pm

chi11ax wrote:I could have showed them my bank statements that I do get an income from home, (I work on web stuff ... which I did mention), file my taxes there (get the regular government refund deposits on the statements) and still have enough cash on hand to stay afloat for six months to a year if I didn't get the income.

Is it a completely passive income, i.e. you do not need to do anything on these webpages while travelling?
If not, whatever you do can be seen as illegal paid work during your stay in Singapore (it does not matter for the regulations where and how it is paid). In that case, better keep your mouth shut about it to avoid further problems!

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Postby chi11ax » Sat, 12 Jul 2014 4:39 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Frankly, it was the western backpacker and the Asian hookers who caused all the problems in the first place! I know. Back in the '80s & 90's I used to do the visa runs as well on occasion but it was a different story as there were hundreds or even thousands of oilfield hands (just like me) who worked month on/off rotations and lived in Singapore on SVPs. I lived here, married here, had three cars here and had two children here during the first 11 years I was here (on an SVP the whole time) before giving up the offshore oilfields for a desk in Singapore (and an EP). But that was then. After 2000 they started cracking down on the border runs to JB and it's gotten progressively tighter as the years have gone by.


Wow you sound like you led quite the storied life. I think these days, more than before you can work and roam. All you need is a laptop and Internet connection and a coffee shop. :)

I was more than happy to stay away from Singapore, if this was their regulation, without a 3 month ban. Or having to flag my passport.

Actually was also already trying to evaluate another city to spend time in and explore while evaluating the girlfriend and older family member situation.

Sadly no border agent who stamped my passport said anything about this prior to this incident, or I would have taken the warning to heart and this whole situation could have been avoided.

As long as the ICA agent doesn't distort the facts on my record, the 3 month travelling is good. LOL at least I have an excuse to my family to go travel longer without them always asking me to come back sooner. :)

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Postby chi11ax » Sun, 13 Jul 2014 1:35 am

JR8 wrote:Your 'travel plans' seem engineered simply to extend your stay in SG. You're visiting SG on the basis of being a tourist but are effectively living here. Where are you staying during your time here, a hotel or your girlfriends place? If the latter that just highlights what you're doing.


Actually, I have aunts and uncles here (brothers and sisters of my mom ... not distant cousins or anything) I stay with. Not at my girlfriend's place.

And there's the problem, you have no ticket home, or apparently any plan to go there. In the absence of which you're a tourist, trying to make SG your home, and that's not allowed.


I could see where they could get me in this grey area.

I guess I ended up making too many friends with similar interests here and kinda just enjoyed hanging out with them.

I didn't think that was a problem as long as I didn't break any laws.

Man, this really sucks. People do spend some time with relatives and friends in other countries. It sucks that my relatives happen to be in Singapore. :(

ICA have called your number, so be very aware that if you flag up to them again they might well just ban you, longer-term, and perhaps even permanently. I'd suggest you resolve the reason for visiting here so frequently as it won't be permitted for much longer as is.


Nah, I don't intend to visit "frequently" anymore. I don't intend to stay as long anymore. Less frequent, shorter trips here. Still want to spend time with them.

I guess it was a total shocker that in the time I was here, 2 of them in Singapore and 1 of them in Malaysia died. And I haven't seen them in 20 years!

So spending time with them became a priority and added to that, ended up in a relationship too. *sigh*

I went through similar with travel to the US, many years ago now. The shakedown that I was finally given was perhaps one of the more aggressive (intentionally so I'm sure) and unpleasant couple of hours I've spent so far in my lifetime of travelling far and wide. Makes your experience sound like being invited in for a 'cup of tea and a polite chat'...


Oh that sucks .. :( yeah, the US can be pretty rough on people. Was it the border guards or the TSA?

The TSA has such a bad rep ...

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Postby chi11ax » Sun, 13 Jul 2014 1:37 am

beppi wrote:Is it a completely passive income, i.e. you do not need to do anything on these webpages while travelling?
If not, whatever you do can be seen as illegal paid work during your stay in Singapore (it does not matter for the regulations where and how it is paid). In that case, better keep your mouth shut about it to avoid further problems!


You brought up a great question actually and I'm curious about the following ...

What if it's getting income from travel blogging? That's one way to gain income ... but you kinda have to blog ... to get income ...

Even if I had ad based sites ... or phone apps ... I'll have to update or bug fix them from time to time ...

I have met a few people who make web sites while travelling the world. Maybe the key is just not to go through Singapore?


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