Should My Spouse Apply for PR Under PTS Scheme or Family Scheme?

Are you a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) or Citizen who has just gotten or about to get hitched to a Non-Resident? Or perhaps you are on the verge of applying for PR status for yourself, weighing your options for the future. Either way, now that you and your significant other are ready to settle down here together, you might have done your research and concluded that this city-state is the best place to raise a family — and you would be right. Singapore is renowned for its low crime rates as well as world-class education, creating the perfect environment for little versions of you to grow up safely.

To enable married couples to achieve this dream, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has implemented the Family Scheme. But what of the Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme? How do you help your spouse choose between the two when applying for permanent residency? Scroll down and find out all you need to know right here, beginning with the PTS Scheme.

 

Applying for Singapore PR Under the PTS Scheme

The Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme targets work pass holders who wish to apply for permanent residency. An advantage of this pathway is its flexibility in allowing the applicant to include their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, born or legally adopted within the context of a legal marriage, in their application.

To be eligible for PR status through this pathway, the main applicant (be it you or your spouse) has to hold the following:

  • Employment Pass
  • Personalised Employment Pass
  • EntrePass
  • S Pass

Anyone with any valid work pass — not just the ones mentioned above — can stay and work in Singapore, but these passes come with their limitations. Most of them, for instance, are tied to the employer. If the holder wishes to make a switch to another company, they would have to cancel their current pass and wait for their new employer to apply for a new one.

As PRs, former work pass holders can live and seek employment in Singapore freely without feeling beholden to their employer. Moreover, they can enjoy priority during the hiring process, should they ever feel the need to switch companies in the future. Eager to learn more? Read on for more information about this pathway.

1. How to Apply for Singapore PR Under this Scheme

Those who are eligible for PR via this pathway should log in to the e-PR system, available via ICA’s official website, using their SingPass. Note that your spouse would have a limited time of seven days (168 hours) to complete the application. Therefore, they should prepare for the online PR application well ahead of time, including the documents in the sections below. Each application comes with a non-refundable fee of S$100, payable using any of the following methods:

  • MasterCard debit/credit card
  • Visa debit/credit card
  • American Express credit card
  • Internet banking

2. Documents Required from the Applicant

To apply for permanent residency under the PTS scheme, the main applicant should provide the following supporting documents:

  • Passport-sized photograph
  • Valid travel document (including the biodata page from the passport) along with a valid immigration pass
  • S Pass/Employment Pass/Other Work Pass
  • Identity card (if you have one)
  • Birth certificate or family register (including both parents’ names) or official household census
  • Change of name certificate or Deed Poll
  • Highest educational certificates and transcripts, including all tertiary qualifications
  • Highest membership certificates or professional license (if you have any)
  • Highest vocational trade certificates (if you have any)
  • Testimonials from any former employers, which state details of the employment, including its duration, nature as well as the last drawn basic salary (if you have any)
  • Payslips for the previous six months
  • Employer’s letter, detailing your current employment, including its duration, nature as well as the last drawn basic salary. Address this letter, written within a month from the date of the application, to the Controller of Immigration.
  • Consent form from Inland Revenue of Authority (IRAS)
  • Valid Business Registration Certificate (if you are self-employed)
  • Occupational license (if you are self-employed)

3. Documents Required from the Spouse

To include a spouse in an application under the PTS scheme, furnish it with the following:

  • Official marriage certificate
  • Highest educational certificates and transcripts, including all tertiary qualifications
  • Highest membership certificates or professional license (if you have any)
  • Highest vocational trade certificates (if you have any)

 

Applying for Singapore PR Under the Family Scheme

The Family Scheme targets Non-Resident spouses of either a Singapore PR or Citizen. If you are currently a Singapore Citizen or PR who is married to a Non-Resident, this scheme is the perfect pathway for couples such as yourselves. The Family Scheme places more emphasis on family ties to a PR or Citizen, compared to the PTS Scheme, which judges a wider range of working adults and their families.

Nevertheless, PR applicants would still be assessed beyond their relationship to the Citizen or PR. In other words, your spouse’s chances of securing a PR approval does not hinge on you alone. This much is apparent based on statistics, provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs, that reveal the relatively low success rate of acquiring PR status under this scheme. Only 49% of applicants succeeded, demonstrating how difficult it is to become a Singapore PR even though they are married to a Singaporean.

Keep reading to find out more about the Family Scheme, from the application process to the list of documents required.

1. How to Apply for Singapore PR Under this Scheme

Unlike the PTS Scheme, Non-Resident spouses who are eligible for PR status via this pathway need to depend on their Citizen or PR spouse to log in to the e-PR system using their SingPass. Note that you would have a limited time of seven days (168 hours) to complete the application. Therefore, you should prepare for the online PR application well ahead of time to avoid having to restart it from scratch. The non-refundable application fee remains the same at S$100, payable using any of the following methods:

  • MasterCard debit/credit card
  • Visa debit/credit card
  • American Express credit card
  • Internet banking

2. Documents Required from the Applicant

Begin preparing for the application by compiling the following documents for your spouse:

  • Passport-sized photograph
  • Valid travel document (including the biodata page from the passport) along with a valid immigration pass
  • Identity card (if he or she has one)
  • Birth certificate or family register (including both parents’ names) or official household census
  • Your child(ren)’s birth certificate(s) from your current marriage (if he or she has any)
  • Divorce or death certificate and custody papers for child(ren) from your spouse’s previous marriage(s) (if applicable)
  • Change of name certificate or Deed Poll
  • Highest educational certificates and transcripts, including all tertiary qualifications
  • Work pass (if he or she is employed)
  • Payslips for the previous six months (if he or she is employed)
  • Employer’s letter, detailing your current employment, including its duration, nature as well as the last drawn basic salary. Address this letter, written within a month from the date of the application, to the Controller of Immigration.
  • Consent form from Inland Revenue of Authority (IRAS)
  • Valid Business Registration Certificate (if he or she is self-employed)
  • Occupational license (if he or she is self-employed)

3. Documents Required from You

As the sponsor, you are required to furnish your spouse’s application with the following:

  • NRIC
  • Official marriage certificate
  • Divorce or death certificate and custody papers for child(ren) from your previous marriage(s) (if applicable)
  • Highest educational certificates and transcripts, including all tertiary qualifications
  • Payslips for the previous six months (if you are employed)
  • Employer’s letter, detailing your current employment, including its duration, nature as well as the last drawn basic salary. Address this letter, written within a month from the date of the application, to the Controller of Immigration.
  • Consent forms from Inland Revenue of Authority (IRAS) and Central Provident Fund (CPF)
  • Valid Business Registration Certificate (if you are self-employed)
  • Occupational license (if you are self-employed)

 

PTS Scheme vs Family Scheme: Which One to Apply for PR?

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s return to the main topic at hand. Most applicants who are eligible for permanent residency through either of the above pathways will inevitably find themselves at a crossroads.

If your spouse can apply for PR status under the PTS Scheme or Family Scheme, which path should he or she take? Would a particular pathway inadvertently place them at a disadvantage, needlessly denying them the PR status that they might have earned under the other pathway? Or would there be little to no difference whatsoever? While these questions are best answered on a case-by-case basis, the following can help you and your spouse make the right choice:

1. Your Nationality or Status

If you are either a Singapore PR or Citizen, your spouse should apply for permanent residency under the Family Scheme. Genuine Resident and Non-Resident couples stand a much better chance of securing the Singapore PR status this way despite its relatively low average success rate. Numerous precedents have, indeed, seen Non-Resident spouses being rejected by ICA but a sizeable portion of these rejections was likely a side effect of restrictions against sham marriages. These marriages of convenience are illegal and punishable by the state for their blatant abuse of Singapore’s immigration facilities. Singaporeans who are guilty of agreeing to a marriage of convenience will face a fine of up to S$10,000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years or both. As such, to filter out bogus unions, ICA officers tend to reject those who apply for PR under suspicious conditions, which brings us to the next point.

2. Length of Marriage

In light of the frequency with which sham marriages occur, rushing into a PR application under the Family Scheme immediately after your marriage will inevitably trigger red flags. Your spouse is highly unlikely to become a Singapore PR so soon. Alas, it matters not if your application is genuine. ICA officers rarely grant PR status to the Non-Resident spouse whose union to a Citizen or PR is too recent regardless of the authenticity of your relationship. However, if your significant other has already been living here on a valid work pass for at least two years, they may wish to consider the PTS Scheme. Your marriage certificate is still a required document here, allowing the ICA officers to note your relationship during the assessment process.

3. Presence of Children

Are children part of your plans? If so, wait until you have children before applying for permanent residency under the Family Scheme, especially if you have the means to raise them in the future. Regardless of their selected pathway, families with children are more likely to become Singapore PRs when they apply for PR status together, rather than separately. Combining their application under the Family Scheme will strengthen their chances even further. The move will signal to the authorities of your spouse’s desire to settle down in the Lion City, rather than leave the country at the first opportunity. At the end of the day, the point of permanent residency is to attract and retain promising individuals who wish to stay here and commit to the city-state for the long haul. Show the authorities that your entire family ticks all these boxes. However, do note that male children who are granted the status are required by law to serve National Service (NS) once they turn 18.

 

The Bottom Line

Take some time to discuss your options based on the above. If your other half sees a future in this country, then applying for permanent residency is clearly the natural step forward. Every case is unique but most married Resident and Non-Resident couples should now have a better idea of their chances. The bottom line here is that your significant other is more likely to receive a PR approval letter under the Family Scheme if they are eligible for PR via both pathways.

However, if you are still unsure, you may consult a professional PR consultant, such as one of ours at Paul Immigrations. A PR consultant will be happy to assist you by evaluating your spouse’s chances and pinpointing the most suitable pathway for them. With our expertise and your potential, our partnership can help secure a better future for your entire family. Contact us now, and jumpstart their journey towards becoming a Singapore PR today.