A sham marriage, also known as a marriage of convenience, is a marriage between two people solely for the purpose of obtaining a benefit or advantage. Many people who enter into sham marriages are in financial trouble and thus easy prey for syndicates. Otherwise, foreign nationals who are desperate for work in Singapore may resort to such schemes to extend their stay.

Are sham marriages legal in Singapore? 

Entering into a sham marriage is illegal in Singapore. According to section 57C of the Immigration Act (IA), if you enter into a marriage knowing that the purpose of the marriage is to help either you or your spouse gain an entry permit to Singapore, and either you or your spouse is offered a reward for entering into the marriage, you will be guilty of an offence. This applies even if the marriage is solemnised outside of Singapore.

Any person who arranges or otherwise assists in arranging a sham marriage is also guilty of committing an offence. In both cases, if convicted, the guilty offender is liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

How Can You Get Out of a Sham Marriage?

1. Apply to annul your marriage

Under section 105(aa) read with section 11A of the Women’s Charter, a marriage can be ruled void if it was solemnised on or after 1 October 2016. You can apply to have your marriage annulled. However, even after annulment, you can still be criminally liable under section 57C of the IA for entering into a sham marriage in the first place.

To avoid such a liability, you will have to prove that even though one purpose of your marriage was to help either you or your spouse gain an entry permit to Singapore, you had reasonable grounds to believe that the marriage would result in a genuine marital relationship.

2. File for divorce

Alternatively, you may file for a divorce. This option applies even if your marriage was solemnised on or before 1 October 2016.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires drafting legal documents like deeds and wills, mediation, or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.