Year in and year out, the number of expats living in Singapore is steadily on the rise. It’s not really surprising why more and more people just keep on falling in love with the Lion City-State. Among the many Asian countries where expats choose to settle in, Singapore, as a nation, has bagged several achievements in the fields of business, science and technology. This feat only keeps the wheel turning for these industries as more doors open to both investors and people who are looking for jobs on this island.
While businesses and jobs seem to flourish, the citizen population of Singapore, in contrast, moves at an alarming downward trend. Last May 2017, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong echoes the issue of declining citizen population and mentions the role that immigration plays in sustaining the general population. However, he also emphasized that aside from the benefits that come with being a citizen of Singapore, all citizens must use their skills and abilities to contribute to the economy and society as part of their social integration. While this has been a major issue that’s been around for decades, the Singapore government has also been actively creating opportunities for investors and expats to migrate and integrate in this island city – one of which is through applying for Permanent Residency (PR).
Applying for Permanent Residency (PR): A Migration Solution
A Singapore PR encourages migration among foreign entrepreneurs and employees in the sense that permanent residents can indefinitely stay on the city-state island and enjoy PR benefits similar to that of local citizens such as the liberty for business and employment, affordable healthcare, and more opportunities for education, etc. This should be especially appealing for people with working visas (S-Pass, EntrePass or Employment Pass).
The Benefits and Responsibilities of a Singapore PR Holder
PR holders are not limited to visa restrictions. This means that PR holders can easily come in and go out of the country as they please. In addition, PR holders no longer need to apply for working visas, thus, they are free to choose and switch employers or companies whenever it suits them. On top of that, PR holders can exercise their freedom in starting or investing on a business, as well as in buying real estate properties. However, PR holders can only purchase second-hand HDB properties because only Singapore citizens are allowed to purchase brand new housing units.
Furthermore, PR holders are covered by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) which provides financial coverage for a citizen’s healthcare, pension, education, property and investment needs. Finally, PR holders are entitled to medical support in government clinics, as well as subsidized education in any government-owned institutions.
While there are certainly a number of great benefits to being a Singapore PR holder, there are also some important obligations that come with it for the grantee. One of which is the mandatory requirement to render National Service under the Enlistment Act which maintains that all male citizens and Permanent Residents of Singapore (otherwise exempted) must register for National Service. All registered individuals are to render up to almost 6 weeks (40 days) of Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) each year for the rest of their ORNS training period up to the age of 50 for officers, and 40 for other ranks. However, applicants under the Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme (PTS Scheme) who have gained PR status are exempted from this type of government service. Then again, the exemption does not extend to male children of permanent residents, whichever way they have received their PR status.
Who are qualified to apply for Permanent Residency?
There are several ways for foreigners to apply for Permanent Residency in Singapore. Knowing which category best suits your interest and circumstances is the first step in your successful application as explained below:
- Permanent Residency under the Professionals/ Technicians and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme
Individuals who have been working in Singapore for at least 6 months or longer can apply for PR under the PTS scheme. To apply under the PTS scheme, the individual has to submit a copy of his/her salary slips in the last 6 months. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will process all applications under this category so it will be advantageous to prepare one’s complete employment profile beforehand.
- Permanent Residency under the Global Investor Programme (GIP) Scheme
Singapore recognizes the benefits of acquiring wealthy global investors to strengthen the country’s economic standing in order to support its domestic and national programmes for all of its citizens. It is from this vision that the GIP scheme was developed. Only serious investors can apply for PR residency under the GIP scheme through any of the two investment options:
(a) Invest S$2.5M on the minimum to support a new business or to expand an existing business in Singapore.
(b) Invest S$2.5M on the minimum on the GIP fund which helps finance Singapore-based businesses.
To qualify, applicants under the GIP scheme must have successful entrepreneurial experience and a formidable track record in business management and operations. To know more about the qualifications for PR through the GIP scheme, click here.
- Application for Permanent Residency of Family Members
Immediate family members such as the legal spouse, aged parents and unmarried children (not older than 21 years of age) of a Singapore PR holder are eligible to be applied for and sponsored for Permanent Residency. To process a family member’s application, the permanent resident should indicate him/herself as the primary sponsor and accomplish the application form (Form 4) here and comply with the requirements based on the individual’s circumstances. Remember to file a complete set of documents for each individual family member.
The Application Process
Foreign expats who wish to apply for permanent residency in Singapore through the PTS scheme must accomplish the Form 4a here, and submit two (2) copies of the form (one original and one photocopy) along with the supporting documents such as a valid travel document, working visa, professional and/or educational certifications, as well as income tax certificates. Note that all documents for submission have to be in English. Failure to present any of the above requirements will warrant an explanation letter from the applicant. Furthermore, submission of documents for PR application can and should only be delivered in person. The applicant first has to set an appointment with the ICA through their official website for submission of documents.
An application for Permanent Residency in Singapore is typically processed within three (3) months. Any update or notification regarding the status of your application will be sent through mail, so it is necessary to provide ICA with your most recent mailing address and information to avoid any untoward delay or incidents.
Note: There is no processing fee for your PR application as per ICA, except for some fees for the release of your documents which are enclosed and properly documented in your letter of approval.
Other fees that are necessary for your PR application include the following:
- Entry Permit Fee: SGD 100
- Re-Entry Permit Fee: SGD 10 per annum
- VISA fee (for expats who need a VISA): $30 per issuance
Helpful Guidelines for a Successful PR Application:
- The longer your stay in Singapore, the higher your chances for approval.
- Having an outstanding (or higher) educational background and/or an impressive work portfolio gives you more edge as an applicant.
- Good work record and tenure (of not less than 6 months) with a company in Singapore is highly regarded.
- Having any official certification or document to validate your significant work or contribution/s to society or the Singaporean community will strongly boost your application.
- Showing interest in the culture and demonstrating aptitude in any of the languages used in Singapore (other than English) will serve as proof of your efforts at social integration.
- Identify any relative or family who are Singapore citizens, PR holders, or who have been legally living and working in Singapore to boost your chances for approval.
- Be ready to provide a copy of your payslips or bank statements for the last 6 months to show your financial standing and capacity to support yourself and/or your family.
- Keep character references who can vouch for your good standing in society and commitment to stay in Singapore.
While there is no fast and easy way to ensure the approval of your PR application, complying with the minimum requirements set by the ICA and following the above guidelines will make for a strong start.