Are you a Singapore Citizen (SC) or Permanent Resident (PR) who is planning to tie the knot with a non-Singaporean? Or perhaps you are a foreign professional who has been working and living in Singapore for some time now, and wishes to continue to do so freely as a full-fledged Singaporean with your significant other? If so, what better way of turning that wish into reality than by becoming PRs?
Wondering why this option is the most ideal for you and your spouse? After all, Employment Pass (EP) holders can apply for either a Dependant’s Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) for their other halves, while an SC or PR can apply for either an LTVP or LTVP+. However, as feasible as it may be to continue to reside in our city-state on these passes, the problem with them is that they are not permanent. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the renewal of these passes itself would even be successful.
Meanwhile, gaining PR status would allow your husband or wife to enjoy a wide range of benefits that are nearly on par with SCs. Better yet, the PR status can forge a pathway towards citizenship, transforming your spouse into a true blue Singaporean.
Therefore, a permanent residency should definitely be in the cards for your future or current spouse. But what exactly does one need to know about this? Read on to find out.
Which PR Scheme is Your Spouse Eligible For?
When it comes to applying for permanent residency in Singapore, you should begin by learning more about its eligibility requirements to set you on the right course. As of 2019, there are five major schemes under which your spouse may be eligible for permanent residency:
- Family Scheme
- Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme — Dependant
- Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme — Main Applicant
- Global Investor Programme (GIP)
- Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme (ForArts).
While it is possible for your spouse to meet the requirements for more than one of these schemes, they would have to decide on only one of the following to apply under:
1. Family Scheme
Spouses of SCs and PRs are eligible for Singapore PR status under the Family Scheme. If you are either an SC or PR, your other half can become a PR if your marriage is recognised by the law. To apply, you would be required to log in to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) online PR application system using your SingPass account. During the application, you are required to produce documents for verification purposes, including an official marriage certificate. Unfortunately, common law spouses are excluded from this category.
2. Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme (Dependant)
If you are applying to become a PR under the Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme, your other half may be eligible for PR status as a dependant. Similar to the Family Scheme, you would have to log in to the online PR application system using your SingPass account. However, to qualify, your marriage has to be recognised by the law, thereby excluding common law unions. Should you meet these requirements, you are expected to support your application with an official marriage certificate to prove its legitimacy.
3. Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme (Main Applicant)
Alternatively, your other half may opt to apply for permanent residency on their own merits under the PTS Scheme if they are a holder of the following passes: EP, Personalised EP, EntrePass, or S Pass. Since you will not play a major role in their application, your spouse is required to use their own SingPass account to apply for permanent residency. This would allow the online application system to generate an accurate list of required supporting documents.
4. Global Investor Programme
Another scheme under which your other half may apply for PR on their own merits is the Global Investor Programme (GIP), which offers the status to non-Singaporean investors. To qualify, applicants must invest at least S$2.5 million into the local economy via a couple of options set by the Economic Development Board (EDB). If your spouse is looking to apply for permanent residency under this scheme, they are required to submit their application to Contact Singapore, a division of the EDB, rather than ICA. You may expect ICA to contact them for an interview within two to four months upon submission of the application.
5. Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme
Finally, your significant other may be eligible for PR status under the Foreign Artistic Talent scheme (ForArts) if they are an arts professional who has made significant contributions to the local arts and cultural landscape. This scheme is under the combined purview of the National Arts Council (NAC) and ICA, with the latter making the final call. However, the list of requirements to qualify for permanent residency under ForArts is incredibly demanding. To qualify, your spouse has to boast an outstanding portfolio in at least one of the following fields: the Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Design, Literary Arts and Media. On top of that, this portfolio must include major contributions to our arts and cultural scene, some or all of which should have been spearheaded by the applicant. Most importantly, each applicant is required to present themselves as a role model through a consistent demonstration of good character.
How ICA Assesses Each Singapore PR Application
Simply being eligible for Singapore PR status will not be enough. When assessing each case, ICA will measure an applicant’s chances of gaining permanent residency based on a wide range of factors, including, but not limited to:
- Family ties to Singaporeans
- Contribution to Singapore’s economy
- Family profile
- Length of residency in Singapore
However, the authorities do not maintain transparency when it comes to their precise approach in assessing PR applications, opting to do so to filter out motives that are far from genuine. Instead, they seek PR hopefuls who have the honest intention of integrating into our society and are fully committed to life as a Singaporean for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, there are ways to gauge your spouse’s chances of attaining PR status based on the following factors:
1. Family Ties to Singaporeans
Your spouse may be more likely to attain PR status if they have existing family ties to Singaporeans. However, the circumstances are slightly different when it comes to family ties by marriage. Even if you are a Singaporean, ICA may be reluctant to grant the status to your husband or wife. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, under 50% of the husbands or wives of SCs or PRs who applied for permanent residency have been granted the status from 2009 to 2018. This is partly due to stricter restrictions after multiple PR hopefuls resorted to sham marriages just to meet the eligibility requirements. Given continued reports of such crimes, we can expect to see this number remain consistent for the years to come. Hence, your husband or wife would have to have more to offer to our country than an official marriage certificate.
2. Income and Financial Standing
Regardless of the scheme under which your spouse falls, your family must have the financial means to support itself. ICA is looking for PRs who can offer something to our country, rather than depend on the state for support, and financial stability is a clear indicator of that. Therefore, your significant other is more likely to receive a letter of approval if your entire household’s combined income enables your family to not only achieve financial independence, but also contribute to the local economy. Your spouse’s chances are even higher if they are gainfully employed too, rather than your family depending on you as the sole breadwinner.
Your spouse’s level of education and employment background can affect the outcome of their application if they possess skills high in demand. During their application’s assessment, their skills would be seen as a boon to the economy, filling major gaps in our workforce and restoring balance to our country’s ageing population. Surveys and reports on the local workforce are the best resources in this regard. According to a recent report by the Ministry of Manpower, 42% of job vacancies in 2018 focused on roles that pertain to the formation and expansion of businesses, particularly in financial services as well as information and communications. This includes database designers, chief information officers as well as financial or investment advisers.
4. Presence of Children
If you have children, you are already one step ahead of the curve. Children are seen as a positive when it comes to PR applications since they can be an asset to the country in the future. However, bear in mind that the presence of children alone will not be enough — your family must have the financial means to support their growth. It should be noted, though, that all male children who are granted PR status are obligated to serve National Service (NS) when they turn 18. In addition to this, they are required to serve Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) after reaching their Operationally Ready Date (ORD) for up to 40 days per year.
5. Length of Your Spouse’s Residency in Singapore
Finally, ICA will take into account the length of your spouse’s residency in our city-state. In general, those who have not been living in the country long enough are significantly less likely to be granted PR status. This is only logical since those who have only been here briefly are unlikely to understand the diverse nature of our multicultural society. Therefore, your other half should allow themselves the time to assimilate into society before committing to our country.
The Road Map to Singapore PR for Spouses: Family Scheme
The best way to secure PR status for your other half is to plan in advance. Therefore, if you are a Singaporean who plans to tie the knot with a non-Singaporean, aim towards small stepping stones that can help them work towards becoming a PR.
To help genuine spouses of SCs or PRs overcome bureaucratic restrictions, ICA recommends applying for the Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP), which would allow your husband or wife to remain in the country for at least two years. The following is a recommended road map that your spouse can take:
1. Pre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass Assessment
Before getting married, consider submitting a Pre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass Assessment (PMLA). This is a free optional assessment that can give you an idea of your future spouse’s chances of gaining the LTVP. If ICA deems your significant other worthy of the LTVP, they will receive a Letter of LTVP Eligibility (LLE) with a validity that lasts for one year.
2. Long-Term Visit Pass or Long-Term Visit Pass Plus
After your marriage, you can use the LLE to expedite the processing time for an LTVP. Make sure that your spouse submits their application with at least 10 days on their Visit Pass. You may use your SingPass to help them apply for the LTVP online via ICA’s e-Service. A non-refundable processing fee of S$30 will be charged for each application.
3. Apply for Singapore PR Status
Once your spouse has built a life with you here for at least a couple of years, they may be ready to apply for permanent residency. You may use your SingPass to help them apply via ICA’s e-PR system. A non-refundable processing fee of S$100 will be charged per application. Do note that you are expected to complete the formalities in person, following an approval.
The Road Map to Singapore PR for Spouses: PTS Scheme
If you are a foreign professional with the PR status in your horizon, you may set small goals before working up towards becoming a Singapore PR. Although the PTS Scheme will assess you as the primary applicant if your spouse is your dependant, ICA takes a holistic approach in their assessment, making your family profile equally important. Hence, to maximise your chances, the following is a road map that you and/or your spouse can take:
1. Valid Eligible Work Pass + Dependant’s Pass
Begin your journey by becoming gainfully employed to earn a work pass that will enable you to apply for PR status. The right pass would allow you to bring your spouse and children to live with you in Singapore by granting each of them a Dependant’s Pass. However, note that you are expected to earn a monthly income of S$6,000 for your spouse and children to be eligible for the Dependant’s Pass. Additionally, this figure should come from your basic salary as the main work pass holder, rather than a combined household income.
2. Reside in Singapore for at least Two Years
Allow your family to settle down and remain in this city-state for at least a couple of years before applying for permanent residency. During this time, encourage your husband or wife to seek employment to demonstrate his or her ability to assimilate into the local workforce and allow your family to grow and expand amidst world-class education and healthcare.
3. Apply for Singapore PR Status
When you have resided in Singapore for the recommended two years, use your SingPass to log in to ICA’s e-PR system and apply for permanent residency. A non-refundable processing fee of S$100 will be charged per application. Do note that you are expected to complete the formalities in person, following an approval.
It is clear that the pathway towards PR status is not merely restricted to the list of criteria set by ICA, EDB or NAC. Unfortunately, the authorities will not hesitate to reject applicants who will not be an asset to the country and may even deport spouses who are not eligible for any other alternative passes. Therefore, be sure you know the various residency options available to protect your family.
That being said, we know this deluge of information can feel overwhelming. Furthermore, the entire PR application process is chock-full of forms and required documents that you might worry you have missed vital details. But, do not worry, because that is where we come in. Contact our highly trained PR specialists at Paul Immigrations for help on applying for Singapore PR today. At Paul Immigrations, we can guide you from start to finish, making sure that you leave nothing out in your spouse’s journey towards becoming a Singapore PR.