26 May 2011


Well, we are still waiting. Paul’s entire life history, his birth certificate, first pair of booties, a picture of him on his first day of kindergarten, a photo of him at his senior prom, his high school and college diplomas, medical certificates, pilot certificates, job vouchers, personal references and his to-be-published memoir were all submitted to the Singaporean government in March, a few weeks before we made the big move. OK, not all of that was included, but most of the items were. Paul was assured a few times that the process would be quick and easy and that all pilots get approved. No one is aware of a pilot who has been denied an employment pass to date.

We ran into the first hitch our second week in Singapore. The government advised one of Paul’s employers that they did not have enough information to grant him the pass. The only information they had on file for him was documentation validating that he was a certified ground instructor; there was no documentation supporting Paul’s career as a pilot. He sent the additional information – college diploma, medical certificates, Certified Flight Instructor certificates – anything and everything he could think to send, even though he already sent the information while we were back in the States.

We were assured over and over again that the government had all of the paperwork and that Paul’s case was simply “pending.” Paul requested additional information regarding the status of his approval and was told that the government needed more time. Paul’s corporate employer started directly contacting Paul’s aviation employer, who was responsible for overseeing the approval process. The aviation employer visited the Ministry of Manpower (agency responsible for visitor, employment and permanent resident passes) on more than one occasion to obtain more information on the status of Paul’s approval. Two weeks ago on a Wednesday, someone found the problem.

The Ministry of Manpower had accidentally opened two files for Paul and neither file was complete on its own. With a complete file, we were advised through the grapevine that a senior case worker was in the process of fixing the issue and that all would be resolved by Friday. Again, that was two weeks ago.

A few days ago, we were advised that Paul’s case is still pending because his college diploma is under investigation. Ohio University, the first college to open its doors in the state of Ohio and one of the first public institutions in the country, is not on the Singapore government’s list of colleges and universities. Let me just say that if OU failed to make the list, there is no way that they will be approving my application for an employment pass in any less time. My tiny private college in a village cornfield (not even a town) with a population of 5,000 when school is in session will certainly not be on their list.

Paul and I are convinced that the employment pass does not exist. We are no more or less excited about the process and just laugh and roll our eyes when we receive the latest status update. We are pretty convinced that we are never going to see the employment pass. Paul knows a man who has been living in Singapore on a visitor’s pass for nine years, or so the man says, so I suppose we still have options. However, without a valid employment pass, an actual green card with a Foreign Identification Number, we are just visiting. As a visitor to Singapore, there are many limitations. We could simply continue to do all of the touristy things like Duck and Hippo tours, visit museums, eat at a variety of restaurants, explore areas of the city, go to the mall. We cannot, however, function in society.

Without an FIN, we are unable to obtain cell phones under standard mobile service. We are unable to subscribe to cable TV or Internet services. We are unable to open a bank account, join organizations or receive a library card. Oh how I long for a library card. And Internet. We really miss the Internet.

Singaporean citizens recently became very vocal about their feelings on expatriates, and they are not too happy, which could delay our processing even further. I read that in Singapore, one-third of the available jobs offered are reserved for non-citizens in order to increase the population and diversity as well as bring in strong minds from other parts of the world. Don’t quote me on that, but that is what I remember from the article I cannot find to fact check. Locals are outraged that they could lose out on jobs to non-citizens, mostly Malaysians and Indonesians who, like Mexicans in America, come from across the border to do simple jobs for low pay.

If the worst comes and we do not have valid passes by the end of next month, I will simply need to take a trip out of the country for a week or so. Since Paul leaves the country every week, his visitor’s pass is renewed for 90 days each time he lands. At least I have a valid excuse to go to some exotic location for our anniversary!

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