What are Visa runs, and are they Legal in Singapore?

4 min read|Last Updated: June 10, 2024|

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Visa runs, common between countries like Singapore and Malaysia, involve brief border crossings to extend visa stays. This article explores their legality in Singapore and the potential consequences for travelers.

What are Visa Runs?

Visa runs are brief trips over the international border to purposefully reset the visa validity of the originating country. This is very common between Singapore and Malaysia, and the timer resets when you exit one country and enter another.

When leaving Singapore, the popular option is to leave via Singapore-Johor Causeway through the land border, spend a day to enjoy some shopping in Johor Bahru or see Legoland Malaysia, and again go back to Singapore for another 30/90 days.

If a foreigner has stayed for 30 days already and tries to do a visa return (or U-turn), there are 50/50 chance that he’ll be questioned on the purpose of Singapore stay when entering the country.

It is possible that he’ll be asked for an interview at the border and asked questions like where will you accommodate? When do you leave as per your plan? What are you doing in Singapore? Where do you work and from where did you get such money for a long vacation?

Some foreigners might not be stopped at first U-turn, but the chances increase with every entry, and it’ll be practically 100% after 4-5 times that questions will be asked.

Then it’ll be a game of answers, but it’s difficult to satisfy them or prove that you are an addicted tourist to Singapore if you have spent 3-4 months here.

In case you fail to convince the officer that you are a tourist, the officer will refuse your entry (no matter even if you have a valid visa).

Legality of Visa Runs and Length of stay in Singapore

Traveling across borders for tourism is not a crime. However, if the purpose doing so is to aide in work or living arrangements where unauthorised, this may be illegal.

For example, if a person is working in Singapore on a tourist visa, this is illegal. This person may go on a visa run to renew their visa, allowing them to stay in Singapore for an extended time – thus continuing their work in Singapore although not allowed to.

Your stay in Singapore depends upon your Nationality, and the visit can either be 30 or 90 days. The counting of the day started from the first day you step here (with the first full day being the day you step in). The countdown stops when you leave Singapore, and it resets for another 30 or 90 days once you again enter Singapore.

It should be clear now that you can only stay in Singapore for 30/90 days per visit. This stay period doesn’t affect how many times you visit. For every tour there is always 30/90 days permitted.

What are the Legitimate Singapore Visa choices instead of visa runs?

That’s why, if you are looking for a long-term relocation to Singapore, the options proposed below will be a good alternative for you.

Employment Pass

Employment Pass (EP) is best for foreign professionals, executives, and managers or for those having relevant qualifications. The validity of the Employment Pass is up to 2 years.

S Pass

S Pass is best for mid-level skilled staff who meets assessment criteria. The validity of S Pass is up to 2 years. S Pass is popular among employees who work in the entertainment, construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process, or service sectors.

Entre Pass

If you would like to venture your business into the Singapore market, you can apply for Entre Pass. It will lead you to get permanent residence in Singapore as well.

Conclusion

Once ICA and MOM have flagged you as high risk in their system for multiple Visa Runs, it will be difficult to enter Singapore again. Alternatively, there are many legitimate visas available for foreigners who want to work and stay in Singapore.

If you are looking to apply for an Employment Pass, we encourage you to go through an employment agent that has insights to the application process for higher success rates.

93% SUCCESS RATE FOR SINGAPORE EMPLOYMENT PASS APPLICATIONS

Come down to our office or get in touch virtually for a free work visa assessment (worth $288) to determine your best chance to move to Singapore today.

FAQs

How can I check my visa validity?2020-10-21T16:57:30+08:00

The visa validity is printed on the visa. 

Can I apply for Singapore Visa Online?2020-10-21T16:57:16+08:00

Yes. You can apply for Singapore Visa online.

Is visa run legal?2020-10-21T16:56:32+08:00

It is not a crime to travel across borders for tourism is not a crime. Visa run is only illegal if you do it to aid in work or living arrangements.  

How long can I stay in Singapore?2020-10-21T16:54:52+08:00

Depends upon your Nationality, can either be 30 or 90 days. The counting of the day started from the first day you step there (with the first full day being the day you step in). The countdown stops when you leave Singapore, and it resets for another 30 or 90 days once you again enter Singapore. This stay period doesn’t affect how many times you visit. For every tour there’s always 30/90 days are permitted.

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