Singapore Revisit Log #3.2: Human Grocery Stall

The first attempt to apply for Singaporean citizenship for Jenny and Albany failed so we decided a second one since we were back. We walked into ICA at 9ish but we didn't expect it would take us until beyond 3pm before we could call it a day. It wasn't a long queue. The outrageous queue was at the work permit/temp visa/PR section. The citizenship queue was rather short. That really spoke volumes about how much commitment our Singaporean PRs gave to our country. What a different story that was in Perth. Over the last 3 months alone, I personally knew four Singaporeans who decided to give up their red passports for the Aussie blue.

What each of them had to do was to pass a Citizenship test and it was by no means a walk in the park if they didn't study or make the effort to learn what the immigration department think every Australian citizen should know about Australia. 


The vetting officer who attended to me was a young Malay chap. He was flawless in his customer service and was very accommodating, straight to the point and knowledgeable in his work. Before long, he picked out the fault in my application and had me realised the ICA was extremely strict when it came to verifying the income level of the applicant. I provided them an appointment letter of my permanent job in Australia, which included my salary, an additional letter (6 months old) from my boss confirming I was an employee in my company and how much my annual salary was and my pay slips for the past 1 year but it was deemed inadequate. I was requested to provided a 'up to date' letter and a further supporting document to confirm my income, such as records of my Australian tax record for the past 3 years - original copies, no less as well as my Singapore CPF statements and tax records, whether it was 'zero or not'. The officer was apologetic but told me I would not be considered for an interview if I didn't provide the following.

I had to call back to the office to ask my office manager to amend my letter and send it to me at the soonest possible, which I printed out later in the first level of ICA with the help of the kind kiosk attendant. I went back and he made me 'promise' I had to provide the crucial Australian tax records immediately upon my return to Perth.

During the interview, the nice Chinese auntie spent 90% of the time scrutinizing my income documents. She managed to pick out I was missing the latest pay slip, which was not issued to me yet when I left Perth for Singapore. She got Jen to note down that I had to send the rest of the latest payslips as well, despite the fact I had a year's worth of previous pay slips over the counter. Then she re-emphasized the need for me to send my Australian tax records over before they would process my application. She also told me to get my company to rewrite the letter and change the salary format from annually to monthly as it was "more accurate." Lastly, she told me to ask my boss to include my NRIC number on that letter.

I sighed and finally ask her why the obsession with verifying my income to such extent. She told me it was the main deciding criteria to the approval of my application. Okay fine.

Next, she got me to write a letter to explain why I applied for Albany's citizenship more than 1 year since her birth for without it, ICA would not consider my application. These thoughts wandered in my mind: If Albany was born in Singapore, she would be a Singaporean by descent with no questions asked. But she was born geographically outside Singapore, so we had to apply for her citizenship ($170 total fees in all if approved). If I did not apply within the first year, she would not be legitimately recognised as a Singaporean and unless her lao pei write a letter to his country explaining 'why so late?' (subjected to approval). To me, Albany would still be my daughter whether or not she was born in Singapore. To my country she was no longer a Singaporean daughter if I did not register her birth within the first year. Interesting.

We finally managed to submit both applications, not without being told repeatedly to send back the income verification documents or the application would not be processed. When asked if our applications would be approved if we sent the documents back, my interviewer could not give me an answer. That would depends on my income of course, but she could not say that over the counter. I understood. If I may have my way, I rather ICA be more outright with this and tell me what is the minimum income they were looking at in order to approve an application like that. If I couldn't make the cut, I would not even apply and waste my $200 that afternoon as well as everyone's time.

I understand there is a significant cultural difference between Australia and Singapore. This episode couldn't illustrate that more. While my friends in Perth had to learn everything they need about the country to pass their citizenship test, I had to tear my (what's left of my) hair out to verify my income on the other shore to get my wife and child's done. The shore I was born on, toiled and defended. The human grocery stall.


  1. i think its because if you apply citizenship for the child within a certain time frame you are eligible for baby bonus?

  2. You're back? Welcome back! For CNY? It's so nonsensical. There they are trying to import more people in but refuse their own Singaporean daughter.

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  4. Hi Nix,

    Feeling annoyed for you....
    They are issuing out SG citiizenship at a pace of a part-time student handing out leaflets to passer-by at shopping any tom dick & harry..and yet making it difficult for the descendant of a true blue Singaporean to get one. Also..I can bet the situation will be a lot easier for you if you have a son. (As they will want him as a future NS slave)...

    Why not just let Albany be a true blue Aussie ?

  5. When its time, give up your red for the blue. You will never regret it. I did it just recently, it has been almost 2 months and Singapore has not officially renounce my Citizenship. I can be what I want to be in Australia. Not Singapore. Albany is Aussie! Love reading your blogs!