SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

April 2024

New Singapore Citizen & Single Mum Now Helps Others Fulfil Their Immigration Dreams

Eager to lift her family’s living standards, go-getter Kay Cheong moved from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Singapore in 2011. Today, the founder of The Immigration People also serves as its managing director, while juggling the role of single mum to a seven-year-old boy. The 36-year-old shares her journey from struggling student to supportive mother and successful fem-preneur, and most recently, a proud new Singapore citizen.

Determined to Rise Above

“I am the eldest in a ‘below average’ family, so I have always been hungry for success. I wanted to change the lifestyle of my family. Neither of my parents finished their primary school education. Hence, I studied very hard because I believe that education can change someone’s life. Despite working part-time since I was 14 years old, I did well and managed to enrol in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, where I majored in International Economics.

Kay Cheong's house and parents in KL

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, I officially kickstarted my career as a financial advisor with Great Eastern. Determined to do well, I even received top rookie agent awards. But when there was an opportunity for me to fulfil my childhood dream, I jumped at the chance and came to Singapore to be a cabin crew with Singapore Airlines.

Later, I got married to a Singaporean and in 2017, I gave birth to a little boy, Raien. Unfortunately, my relationship with his father was just not meant to be and we drifted apart. Raien was about three years old when we divorced, still too young to fully understand. However, we made a commitment to co-parent our son to the best of our abilities and remain good friends.


Speaking of Raien…

Kay and Raien

I had a smooth pregnancy with no special cravings or morning sickness. However, my son was a long overdue baby — he was two weeks late. We decided to induce him at 42 weeks and 1 day. I chose to give birth naturally but had a long labour. Due to frequent contractions caused by the induction, I eventually opted for an epidural, as I had not dilated at all despite enduring pain for six hours. Still, it took him all of 24 hours to come into the world!

Raien’s birth was challenging as he was not in the optimal position. Known as Occiput Posterior, his head was downwards but facing the front instead of the back. As a result, the doctor needed to use a vacuum to assist in his delivery, which caused his head to have an abnormal shape. When he was born, his skin was wrinkly — the doctor said that he spent too much time in my womb. Thankfully, my baby was otherwise healthy.

Kay and Raien

I fully breastfed my son until he was 13 months old. It was tough as he did not like to latch, so I was pumping seven times a day. After Raien was born, I decided to shift my focus to ground-based opportunities and transitioned to the immigration sector. I joined an immigration consulting firm and continued pumping at my workplace.

My early parenting journey was not easy as I did not have much help in Singapore since my family are all in Malaysia. It was not easy at all, but I managed to push through.


Giving Birth to My Other Baby

I am also glad to find a supportive business partner to share my emotional challenges with. Elena and I identified the market gap between what clients really want versus what the immigration industry was offering. Hence, we started The Immigration People (TIP) to provide more transparency in the industry.

The Immigration People founders Kay & Elena

We started by publishing our pricing on our website. Then we launched a YouTube channel that shares about Singapore immigration matters very openly. We want consumers to be able to make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right partner to work with for important agenda in life, such as getting that permanent residence (PR) status. Down the road, I also hope to scale TIP to another level by providing more services for expats and be a one-stop solution for foreigners looking to migrate to Singapore.

In my case, I applied for PR on my own and was fortunate to be successful on my first attempt. However, the process wasn’t without challenges. I vividly remember having to travel back to Malaysia to retrieve some documents I had missed out, before returning to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for submission within a two-week timeframe. I wish I knew at that point of time about the existence of immigration agencies.


Becoming a Singapore Citizen

The Immigration People team

In contrast, my citizenship application, which my TIP team handled, was a more streamlined process. I pretty much just prepared all the documents, filled up a questionnaire, and they took care of the rest. Because I trust my team so much, I didn’t even check through the form before submission.

Singapore feels more like home to me. A big part of the reason is because my son is also Singaporean, and my business is pretty stable. I do not see myself going back to live in Malaysia. So in June 2023, when I received notification online that my citizenship application was successful, I was overwhelmed with joy.

Kay Cheong with her family

Obtaining citizenship is essential for house ownership in Singapore. More importantly, I could now be a Singapore citizen, just like my son. The first people I shared the news with were my family members — my mum and sisters. Raien and I also celebrated with simple meals among close friends, and took a family vacation in Seoul last December.

To complete the formalities, I participated in the Singapore Citizenship Journey online, where I learned more about Singapore’s history. Additionally, I attended an experiential tour, visiting the National Museum and the Land Transport Authority gallery. I also participated in a community sharing session. After completing all the required activities, I proceeded to renounce my Malaysian citizenship and apply for my Singapore passport. I am now eagerly awaiting my Singapore Citizenship ceremony.


Life is a Juggling Act

new Singapore citizen Kay Cheong with her son

Raien is in Primary One this year. I try my best to spend quality time with him when I am not working and we do a lot of outdoor activities together. Hence, we are very close and like me, he is quite a social butterfly. I take him to meet his friends and build his social skills as often as I can.

During the weekends, I accompany my son to various classes and spend time teaching him Chinese. Raien is currently enrolled in drum, swimming, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons. He thoroughly enjoys them all, especially jiu-jitsu. He has participated in competitions and even won medals.


new Singapore citizen Kay Cheong with her son

To me, motherhood means providing in all aspects, inclusive of comfort, care, inspiration and beyond. I really want him to have privileges that I did not get to enjoy when I was young. For example, my parents couldn’t afford to pay for music and swimming lessons. Also, I always wanted to study abroad but never had the chance.

I try not to pressure my son too much in terms of his academics and instead, focus on instilling good values that shape him as a person. By being a good example, I hope that he grows up to be a strong, independent, and gracious gentleman.

new Singapore citizen Kay Cheong with her son

Juggling managing a company while raising a child has not been easy. I sometimes suffer from mum guilt because the nature of my work can be quite demanding. In those moments, I blame myself for not spending enough time with my son, and have to constantly adjust my mindset to cope.

Still, my family background and being away from family have taught me to be independent and strong. Hence, despite the challenges I face in running my business and being a single mum, I refuse to be defeated.


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Kay Cheong + Raien in Seoul

New Singapore Citizen & Single Mum Now Helps Others Fulfil Their Immigration Dreams