There are several reasons why Singapore has consistently ranked as one of the world’s top place with regards to quality of living. Just look at the city-state’s multi-cultural and multi-national society; housing, education and healthcare facilities; low crime rate, efficient governance and world-class business infrastructure; and you will understand the reasons why the country has repeatedly topped all international surveys as Asia’s best place to live, work and play.
It is now the first choice for immigrants looking to make life better for themselves and their families. Thus, after you relocate to Singapore on a work visa and have made up your mind to make the country your permanent home, applying for permanent residency (PR) can be a life-changing decision.
Getting a PR can also be the intermediary step towards Singapore citizenship [all Singapore PRs who have completed their two years of residency are eligible for Singapore citizenship] and you can avail a range of personal tax reliefs, and healthcare and education subsidies including the Central Provident Fund benefits. Moreover, as a PR, you can travel in and out of the country freely and also doesn’t need to acquire fresh work visas when changing employers.
Singapore Permanent Residence Schemes
There are three schemes for attaining Singapore Permanent Residence (PR):
Professional, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers scheme (PTS scheme)
It is the most preferred scheme by holders of the city-state’s employment pass, S pass, entrepreneur pass or personalized employment pass, as more than 95 percent of professionals attain their PR status through this scheme.
In general, you need to submit two sets of completed Form 4A (one original – easily downloadable from ICA’s website – and one photocopy) along with several supporting documents as detailed below (official English translations are to be provided if the original documents are not in English):
- valid travel document/passport
- employment pass/S pass
- educational certificates
- birth certificate
- payslips for the last six months
- income tax notices of assessment for the last three years
- testimonials from previous employer stating the nature and duration of employment and also the last drawn basic salary
Do note while all original documents are required when you apply for PR (which can be done only in person and by appointment only), these originals are returned immediately by the official-in-charge after sighting and verification.
While an applicant’s spouse and children aged under 21 years may also apply for Singapore PR status together with the applicant, do note that male dependants will be liable for Singapore National Service (NS) once they are granted permanent residency. This is so because under Singapore’s Enlistment Act, while new PRs are exempted, their male children who are granted PR status under their sponsorship are liable for NS.
There have also been cases where NS-liable PRs in a bid to escape their NS liability had applied for renouncing their Singapore PR status. Such instances are taken very seriously by the ICA, which categorically statesd that “renouncing one’s PR status without serving or completing full-time NS would have an adverse impact on any immediate or future applications to work or study in Singapore, or for Singapore citizenship or PR status”.
If spouse and children are also a party to the PR application, then the additional supporting documents required include:
- valid travel documents/passports of all
- official marriage certificate
- spouse educational certificates
- official birth certificates of spouse and children clearly showing the parents name (submit the official adoption papers if the child is adopted)
- death certificate or divorce certificate and the custody papers for the children in respect of applicant’s/spouse’s previous marriages (if any)
Global Investor Program scheme (GIP Scheme)
This scheme is an initiative by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for an investor who is willing to take up Singapore PR and has a substantial business track record and a successful entrepreneurial background. But the governing condition is that the investor must invest at least S$2.5 million either in a new business entity (or expand an existing business operation in Singapore) or in a GIP-approved fund that invests in Singapore-based companies. This scheme is basically targeted at the super-rich as is indicative by the assessment criteria involved.
- applicant company’s annual turnover must be at least S$50 million in the year before he or she makes the application, and at least S$50 million per annum on average for the three years immediately preceding the application.
- while consolidation of businesses is allowed, it must be done only for approved industries to meet the minimum turnover clause
- he or she must have at least three years of entrepreneurial and business track record
- must produce last three years audited financial statements
- if the company is privately held, the applicant must have 30 percent shares in it
Foreign Artistic Talent scheme (ForArts)
This scheme is jointly administered by the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the National Arts Council (NAC), and is meant for outstanding international arts professionals in recognition of their cultural significance and contribution. Notably, the PR approval rate under this scheme is not very encouraging.
Who can Apply for Singapore PR
Under the PTS Scheme and GIP Schemes, the following categories of foreigners can apply for permanent residence in Singapore:
- spouse and unmarried children (below 21 years old) of a Singapore citizen or PR
- aged parents of a citizen
- employment pass and S pass holders (includes personalized employment pass and entrepreneur pass)
- investors or entrepreneurs meeting eligibility criteria under GIP
Processing Time for a PR application in Singapore
There is no set time limit. It may take two weeks or it may take six months to one year. Though the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) defines the normal processing time for PR application as four to six months. Generally, PTS residency applications take anything between two weeks to two years, while GIP applications normally take six to twelve months.
It must be noted though that the GIP process has more hassles, and requires more forms/plans/interviews to be taken care of. Moreover, this scheme is not for everyone.