• Singapore: Certain Foreign Private School Students Now Limited to Government-Certified Institutions
  • April 8, 2011
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Foreign nationals requiring a Student Pass to study at a private school in Singapore are now limited to those private schools that have been granted the government’s EduTrust certification. The change in policy may create temporary problems for foreign nationals in the near future, as none of Singapore’s international schools are currently EduTrust certified.

    Existing Student Pass holders are unaffected by the new policy unless they change their school or their course of study, as described more fully below. The policy change likewise does not affect foreign nationals who do not require a Student Pass to study in Singapore, such as Dependent Pass holders or those with permanent residence status.

    Background on EduTrust Certification

    EduTrust is a Singapore government certification program designed to raise performance standards of private schools. Certification is open to international schools that offer pre-school, primary, secondary and post-secondary education. An EduTrust certification is not mandatory for schools to operate in Singapore, but under the new immigration policy, schools that are not certified will no longer be able to admit foreign students requiring Student Passes.

    Which Foreign Students Are Affected by the New Policy?

    The new private school policy affects only those foreign nationals who require a Student Pass to study in Singapore. This of course includes foreign nationals seeking to study in Singapore who have no other connection to the country, but may also affect foreign national children who do not qualify for Dependent Passes, such as stepchildren who are not legally adopted by an Employment Pass holder. The policy will also affect the children of Singapore permanent residents who do not themselves hold permanent residence status. (In some cases, foreign nationals taking up permanent residence in Singapore will not obtain the same status for their male children to avoid the country’s mandatory two-year National Service requirements for male citizens and permanent residents who reach the age of 18.)

    Affected parents can continue to obtain a Student Pass for their children in the above cases provided they enroll them in an EduTrust certified school. Upon admission by the school, the school administrator can proceed to submit an online Student Pass application on the student’s behalf with the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

    Parents who prefer a school which is not EduTrust certified will be required to move their children to permanent residence status or a Dependant Pass, if possible. Note that if a Dependant Pass is required, the parent will also need to convert his or her status from permanent resident to Employment Pass holder, and should be aware that such a status change will disrupt his or her authorization to work in Singapore.

    Which Foreign Students Are Exempt from the New Policy?

    Existing Student Pass holders continue to be authorized to study in Singapore until they fully complete their originally approved course of study, regardless of whether their school becomes EduTrust certified or not. If their pass expires before the conclusion of their course of study, they may apply for a renewal, subject to meeting the conditions for the pass, such as attending class as required and not engaging in employment. However, if they change to a different course of study or move to a different school, a new Student Pass application must be filed which will require admission into an EduTrust certified school.

    The following are also unaffected by the EduTrust certification policy:

    • Children of Employment Pass holders holding Dependent Passes;
    • Children who hold permanent residence status;
    • Student Pass holders enrolling in a Singapore government school;
    • Employment Pass holders taking up part-time studies; and
    • Visit Pass holders permitted to attend a short classroom course that can be completed within the validity of their initial Visit Pass or 30 days, whichever is shorter.

    Fragomen is monitoring the implementation of the EduTrust certification scheme insofar as it affects the immigration status of foreign national employees and their families, and will issue updates as they arise.

    The content herein is provided for informational purposes only. To read more Fragomen Client Alerts please visit: http://www.fragomen.com.