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Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Relocating, travelling or planning to make Singapore home? Discuss the criterias, passes or visa that is required.
YannickLF
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Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby YannickLF » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 3:08 pm

I am a US passport holder and I have been staying Singapore since February 2015 looking for a job. I am given a 90-day entry pass each time I enter Singapore. So far I’ve done one visa run to Thailand for 7 days and was able to re-enter the country without issue. My next visa run will be to Myanmar for 16 days. I am hoping to re-enter the country and continue my job search.

I usually stay for around 85 days and leave the country for at least 7 days. How many times will I be allowed to come in and out of Singapore for visa runs?

If I am barred from entry, would I be forced to return to the United States?

There is no proof that I am working illegally, overstaying or breaking any laws. If questioned, I am on an extended holiday in the region and using Singapore as my base while I stay with a Singaporean friend. Is this the best way to respond to an interrogation?

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby bgd » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 4:19 pm

There is no defined number of times you can come and go, at least nothing published. If ICA suspect you are gaming the system, e.g. visa runs, then that will be it. Most tourists stay for something like 3 days so you will stand out. Don't rely on your extensions continuing indefinitely.

Have a search of the forum, this has come quite few times in the past.

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby YannickLF » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 4:44 pm

Thank you.

I have a Singaporean girlfriend and we have taken an LTVP eligibility assessment and it has come back positive. We are unsure whether we will tie the knot, but the assessment serves as an in-principle approval for the LTVP and it makes for a plausible proof of intent for continued short-term visits. Is this a card that should be played?

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Re: RE: Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 5:11 pm

YannickLF wrote:Thank you.

I have a Singaporean girlfriend and we have taken an LTVP eligibility assessment and it has come back positive. We are unsure whether we will tie the knot, but the assessment serves as an in-principle approval for the LTVP and it makes for a plausible proof of intent for continued short-term visits. Is this a card that should be played?

My 2 cents. .. unless things changed, the eligibility doesn't mean you will get a LTVP, especially when you aren't married ...

The actual review will be by a human being .... who will ask all the right questions..

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 5:55 pm

All of the governments various ministries self assessments found on their respective websites are for determining whether or not you "are eligible to apply for" and are in no way indicative of whether or not the actual application will be successful when applies for as another whole series of points will be taken into consideration. The online assessment is just to help reduce the civil servants workload by hopefully reducing the number of totally useless applications that used to flood them every day.

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Re: RE: Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 6:35 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:All of the governments various ministries self assessments found on their respective websites are for determining whether or not you "are eligible to apply for" and are in no way indicative of whether or not the actual application will be successful when applies for as another whole series of points will be taken into consideration. The online assessment is just to help reduce the civil servants workload by hopefully reducing the number of totally useless applications that used to flood them every day.

Exactly....

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby JR8 » Fri, 24 Jul 2015 7:07 pm

YannickLF wrote:I am a US passport holder and I have been staying Singapore
since February 2015 looking for a job. I am given a 90-day entry pass each time
I enter Singapore. So far I’ve done one visa run to Thailand for 7 days and was
able to re-enter the country without issue. My next visa run will be to Myanmar
for 16 days. I am hoping to re-enter the country and continue my job search.

I usually stay for around 85 days and leave the country for at least 7 days.
How many times will I be allowed to come in and out of Singapore for visa runs?

If I am barred from entry, would I be forced to return to the United States?

There is no proof that I am working illegally, overstaying or breaking any laws.
If questioned, I am on an extended holiday in the region and using Singapore as
my base while I stay with a Singaporean friend. Is this the best way to respond
to an interrogation?


This reminds me of the situation I was in, effectively living with my then GF/
now wife in New York. I continued visiting over and over, maxing out the Visa
Waiver Scheme (90 days each time) until the dung suddenly hit the fan. [I've
described the circumstances and details before, so if anyone were interested
they are searchable on this forum].

I suppose my situation was that was the easiest way in. I could book a flight,
and hop on the plane that day. My self-employment meant there were no obstacles
to doing this. But looking back I was rather naive thinking I could go on and
on doing this; the VWS scheme was meant to make life easier for mass-market
visitors and people genuinely on short-term holiday. Although the channel was
available to me I can understand why I (unwittingly) used it beyond it's inten-
ded limits.

When the dung hit the fan one night (EWR/JFK) I was 'interrogated'. It was a
hostile and highly uncomfortable experience. [again, the details of the
questions they asked are searchable].

My conclusion from this is, recognise the intention and limits of any entry
scheme. The upshot of my [inadvertant] use of the VWP was I was effectively
barred from using it again. I was given one last entry, for something like 2-4
weeks, then advised to go home and get a visa if I wished to return. [I've
ommitted the fury, flecks of spit, and finality of how that ... errr, 'order',
or 'advice' was conveyed].

That was what I did, enjoy my last VWP, then return home to the highly protracted
'full visa' process. Of course by then I was already on something os a back-foot.
I was no longer a first time tourist, I had to 101% convincingly demonstrate I
was not working in the US illegally, that I had ties to home (EU), the source of
my funds, pretty much all the facts and numbers about me and my life. It is much
simpler if you do not let it get to that stage IMO.If there is an element of
goodwill, you'll get it by showing you're trying to do things right in the first
place.

If I were the chap at immigration with you next in queue before me... (just
thoughts, based upon my above experience, please don't take this personally...):

- Job-hunting since Feb. How many interviews have you been to? Why can't you
conduct your search from outside Singapore?
- The SVP is not intended as a limitless job-hunting visa.
- [If questioned expect a '360' on how you're supporting yourself, i.e.
disclosure of assets and income etc. And they'll want the same info on your GF].
- The SVP is not (just IMO/IME) meant to facilitate effective residency. So what
are you actually trying to achieve? Singapore does not have a 'GF/BF visa'. Are
you engaged to be married (you suggest not), so meanwhile you're just a
plain-vanilla tourist but living in SG.
- You say the LTVP elegibility checker suggests you'd get a pass. But that's if
you were married, and you've already suggested (IIRC) that your GF isn't much
into that idea just yet.

The way I see it, you have a SGn GF, no plans to get married, settle down here,
make a life of it and meanwhile just wish to hang out here on a protracted basis.
As with me in NYC there's only so long that's going to fly.

p.s. 'visa runs', and you use the term yourself, are red-flags on your record.
Better you find yourself a sustainable longer term path now, rather than join
the final dots for the authorities on the one that you're currently on.

Despite the rather doomster tone I intend this entirely constructively, esp.
having been in almost precisely your shoes before :) Best of luck!
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby YannickLF » Sat, 25 Jul 2015 1:19 am

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I will take heed of your statements and build a better case.

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby YannickLF » Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:08 am

Truthfully, I was looking for a job when I first arrived, but I've decided that starting a business would be more viable. I am essentially using my time in Singapore for genuine social purposes and also to research the market and business laws because I intend to launch by next year. My business would meet all the legal stipulations required for me to obtain an EntrePass.

If I am interrogated at the airport on my next entry/exit, how wise is it to tell the immigration officials about my business intentions? Essentially, I have secured foreign investment for my venture and am laying the groundwork for launching. Would this information only invite closer scrutiny? (I will be returning from an overseas trip in August and plan to leave SG by October and return once I am ready to register my company next year).

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:12 pm

If you have met the Entrepass requirements, then apply for Entrepass and get your EP. Especially if you have secured funding, can meet the employment and training requirements, and can meet minimum annual spend.

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Re: Visa Run Dilemma for US Citizen

Postby malcontent » Sat, 01 Aug 2015 9:36 am

I was in the exact same predicament (same passport, same situation) when I first arrived in 1996 (and still here today). Back then you only got a 30 day social visit pass - and my GF who was a PR was able to sponsor me for extensions without the need for doing a visa run - at first they only extended 14 days, but we appealed as asked for 30 days, when they asked why, we were honest and said we were planning to get married and I was looking for a job. They said "well, we can't stop you from looking for a job" - and gave me 30 days, from then on, we kept going back and got a total of 4 extensions. Shortly after I got an offer and started the EP application process. Once that started they gave me a 2 months stay, but I did overhear the guy who gave me the 2 months say to another guy working there "here's another one... not supposed to extend more than 3 times" - so they do have rules, but overly onerous. I'd say that the Singapore immigration process is 1000% better than the US, they are not worried about potential immigrants entering on a non-immigrant basis. They also have no issue with job seekers who are not working being here on a social visit pass (to a limit of course). To some extent, they are sympathetic to family issues, but without an official marriage, they can only do so much. From my experience, it's best to be completely honest about your intentions and be willing to show persistence if you get rejected - while there is never any guarantee, when you show honest persistence, it can pay off.


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