Singapore PR – Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits and Drawbacks of Singapore Permanent Residency

For foreigners on work visas in Singapore, there are extensive benefits to applying for permanent residency. While you will enjoy all of the rights and privileges afforded full citizens, there are a number of obligations to fulfil as a permanent resident that must be kept in mind.

As a permanent resident, you and your family are permitted to work, live and buy property in Singapore and fully participate in Singaporean society. You will be eligible for a range of perks such as full travel freedom allowing you to enter and leave the country, as well as priority entry for your children into Singapore’s public education system. These benefits extend to the workplace, as your employer will be required to make monthly contributions to a mandatory pension scheme, and you will no longer have to acquire a new working visa every time you change jobs.

Whilst the government provides many rights to Singapore permanent residents, it also places a number of obligations on them. One key obligation is military service, commonly referred to as national service or ‘NS’. This is compulsory for your sons (should they also be permanent residents) and will come into effect upon their reaching 18 years of age.

Permanent residents in Singapore

The government of Singapore estimates that as of 2015 in a national population of just under 5.5 million people, 527,000 of them are permanent residents, with the numbers holding steady over the past few years.

An application for Singapore permanent residency takes between 12 and 18 months to process, and is intended for foreigners under the age of 50 who have been living and working in Singapore for a minimum of six months. For more information on the various permanent residency schemes, please refer to the relevant Ottavia guide.

Preference for permanent residency will be given to individuals deemed more capable of contributing to Singapore’s society and economic prosperity, measured in terms of work experience, qualifications, professional skills and income earning potential.

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Benefits and obligations of permanent residency

Successful applicants under a permanent residency scheme enjoy a range of benefits attached to the status. The primary advantage offered is the ability to remain in Singapore without further application for visas. Upon obtaining your Blue Card (the identification document provided once you receive your permanent residency status), you will be permitted the right to live in Singapore and can leave and enter as you see fit.

As a permanent resident, your spouse and any adopted or natural unmarried children under the age of 21 years are also eligible for the same status. Your foreign parents are able to receive long-stay visas. Should your children be school aged, they are high on the priority list for the public school of your choosing, behind only citizens. Non-permanent residents are given the lowest priority and often have little or no choice about schools for their children.

Permanent residents are also permitted to change jobs freely without the additional concern of having to re-apply for a work permit. Employment Pass holders are required to cancel their working visa should they wish to change jobs, which includes a number of risks for the applicant including having the new Employment Pass application rejected or delayed, requiring you to leave Singapore. Permanent residency removes these risks.

Singapore permanent residents employed in any capacity are required to join the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme, requiring both you and your employer to make a minimum monthly contribution to your pension fund. The Central Provident Fund assists you financially when it comes to home-ownership, health care, family protection and wealth creation and asset growth. Permanent residents enjoy a form of tax relief by deducting their Central Provident Fund contributions from their salary.

Another financial benefit of being a Singapore permanent resident is that it is easier to access various loans such as a housing loan through a bank should you wish to purchase property.

Permanent residency also opens the door down the line to Singapore citizenship, should you wish to acquire Singapore nationality at some point in the future. Please note that this is not an immediate eligibility and it may take a few years before you are able to apply for citizenship. Citizenship – either through application or right of birth – is the only path to obtaining a Singapore passport.

An aspect of Singapore permanent residence that concerns many foreigners – especially those already with young sons – is the requirement of national service. Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore citizens and permanent residents are liable to register for national service upon their reaching 16.5 years old. They are required to serve two years of national service upon turning 18. 40 days of Operationally Ready National Service is mandated every year until they turn 50 (holding the rank of an officer) or 40 (holding an enlisted rank).

When buying property, permanent residents may not purchase new Housing and Development Board flats. Only citizens may purchase new HDB flats; permanent residents may only purchase second-hand units.

These obligations notwithstanding, the advantages of being a Singapore permanent resident have convinced thousands of expatriates to apply in the hope of being successful every year. Already half a million permanent residents reside in Singapore. With the government encouraging the arrival of professionals to the country, as well as those who can contribute to the country’s welfare, the population of permanent residents will continue to steadily grow, enabling more foreigners to enjoy the extra benefits and enhanced rights and privileges afforded to them as they receive permanent resident status.
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