Overview of Singapore PR Schemes

 Singapore’s Permanent Residency Schemes

While thousands of people become Singapore permanent residents every year, not all of them go through the same application process. Although many foreigners apply for permanent residency after a period of working in Singapore for a few years on an employment pass or equivalent work visa, the Singapore government offers a variety of paths to permanent residency. This guide provides a broad overview of the various permanent residency schemes available, enabling you to decide which one best suits your unique circumstances and needs.

Permanent residency applications can be made for the whole family, i.e. the applicant plus their spouse and both natural and adopted unmarried children under the age of 21. As a permanent resident of Singapore, you are afforded the majority of the benefits, rights and privileges provided to citizens. This encompasses everything from the right to remain and live in Singapore without visa restriction or renewal, higher priority placement for your children at public schools, additional freedoms to buy property and the ability to participate in the nation’s retirement fund scheme and so on. Conversely, permanent residents are required to make certain commitments to the government, society, and economy of Singapore. A key example of this is the understanding that your sons under the age of 18 – should you have any – will be required to serve a compulsory two-year term of military service upon reaching adulthood. For more information on this, please refer to Ottavia’s guide on Singapore PR Benefits and Obligations.

This said, permanent residency is still a major lure for attracting foreigners to work and live in Singapore. Thousands of expatriates from diverse backgrounds have left their countries of origin or residence to establish themselves in the island-state. Singapore is considered one of the premier destinations for expats looking to settle in Asia, due to its stable and developed economy and society and its place as a key financial hub in the region. Permanent residents make up a significant portion of the country’s population – roughly 10 per cent. As of 2015, population information indicates that there are just under 530,000 permanent residents amongst a total population of 5.3 million people, with numbers steadily increasing.

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Permanent residency schemes for individuals employed in Singapore

Foreign professionals working in Singapore at the time of application for permanent residence can apply through the Professionals/Technical Personnel & Skilled Worker scheme (or simply “PTS scheme”). The PTS scheme is one of the easiest and the most assured route to attaining permanent residence in Singapore.

The key requirement to qualify under this scheme is that the applicant is required to be employed in Singapore at the time of application. This involves relocating to Singapore on a work pass – either the Entrepreneur Pass, Personalised Employment Pass, S Pass or an Employment Pass.

You will be required to show a minimum of six months’ worth of salary pay slips proving that you have worked in Singapore for a minimum of six months prior to application. Detailed information about this scheme in addition to a step-by-step filing procedure can be found on Ottavia’s guide to Applying for Singapore PR under PTS Scheme.

Permanent residency schemes for foreign direct investors

Individuals can also invest their way to a permanent residency in Singapore via an investment scheme known as the Global Investor Programme. This scheme allows you to apply for permanent residency for you and your immediate family by starting a business with a minimum investment of SGD 2.5 million, or by investing a similar sum into a pre-existing, established business in Singapore.

Under the Global Investor Programme scheme, investors can choose from two investment options:

  1. Option A: Invest a minimum of SGD 2.5 million into either a new business start-up or an expansion of an existing business operation in Singapore.
  2. Option B: Invest a minimum of SGD 2.5 million into a Global Investor Programme-approved fund.

Aside from the required minimum investment of funds, you are also required to meet certain other criteria. These include having a good business track record, a solid entrepreneurial background and a respectable business proposal or investment plan. For further information on this scheme, please see our article on Singapore Permanent Residence for Investors.

Permanent residency schemes for foreign artistic talent

With the rapid growth in size and scope of Singapore’s art scene in the past few years, the country is aiming to be the region’s premier arts hub. If you’re talented in any artistic pursuit including but not limited to photography and visual art, dance, music, theatre, literature and film, you are permitted to apply for permanent residency through the Foreign Artistic Talent scheme. To qualify for this scheme, you are required to be a well-recognised artist in your own country, and preferably have an international reputation. You must also possess the relevant training in your field of practice, and have made significant contributions to the arts and cultural scene of Singapore, including possessing a strong track record of local engagements at a leadership level, and have concrete plans to be involved in the Singapore arts and cultural sector.

In summary

The Government of Singapore has instituted these schemes to provide simple immigration channels for professionals and other foreigners capable of making a positive contribution to the country’s development and economic growth. Individuals who can further enhance the country’s wealth and reputation with their skills or labour are encouraged to apply under one of the permanent residency schemes.

The various permanent residence schemes help foreigners from a variety of backgrounds obtain permanent residency through the means most relevant to their circumstances, lifestyle and situation. Depending your areas of expertise and your intended goal in Singapore, different schemes may be more suitable to you.

For more information about permanent residence, the application process, and the requirements, privileges and duties attached, please refer to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority website.