On 14 November 2023, a 53-year-old Singaporean man, Lim Sin Kian (“Lim”), was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for harbouring a 58-year-old Chinese immigration offender, Zhao Shunnu (“Zhao”). His charge for harbouring another 60-year-old Chinese immigration offender, Jin Xiannu (“Jin”), was taken into consideration during sentencing.
2. Zhao and Jin were arrested by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers on 30 August 2023 for remaining unlawfully in Singapore after the expiry of their Visit Passes on 23 May 2009 and 24 April 2006 respectively. Zhao and Jin were each sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of $2,500 (in default 18 days’ imprisonment) and $3,500 (in default 25 days’ imprisonment) respectively.
3. Further investigations by ICA revealed that in January 2021, Lim had rented a room to Zhao in his flat at Bedok Reservoir for a monthly fee of $550. In June 2021, through the introduction of Zhao, Jin also stayed in the same room for a monthly fee of $550.
4. Despite knowing Zhao and Jin were foreigners, Lim did not exercise due diligence to check their identification documents and verify whether their stay in Singapore was valid. In June 2023, Lim found out that Zhao and Jin were overstayers in Singapore and told them to move out of the unit. However, he continued to allow them to stay in the unit until 30 August 2023. Lim had thus committed an offence of harbouring immigration offenders under the Immigration Act.
5. ICA takes a firm stance against any person who harbours immigration offenders. Those who wish to rent their premises must exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants to ensure that their status in Singapore is legal. They are required to conduct three mandatory checks:
(a) Check the tenant’s original immigration/work pass;
(b) Cross check the particulars on his/her pass against the particulars on his/her original passport; and
(c) Verify the validity of his/her pass by checking with the issuing authority (i.e. the Ministry of Manpower for work passes and the ICA for immigration passes – Student’s Pass and Long-Term Visit Pass).
6. If any person is found guilty of recklessly or knowingly harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he/she may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than six months and not more than two years and a fine not exceeding S$6,000. If any person is found guilty of negligently harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he/she may be sentenced to a fine not exceeding S$6,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY
14 NOVEMBER 2023