Singapore is ranked amongst the world’s best in terms of quality of living, and it’s not hard to see why. When you compare the tangibles — such as standard of education, housing excellence, crime rates, infrastructure, unrivalled healthcare, job opportunities and level of unemployment — or intangibles — such as multi-cultural cohesiveness, racial harmony and geographical accessibility — Singapore is in a class of its own.
What started out as a fishing village some 200 years ago has now transformed into a major powerhouse, having been proclaimed as the financial and technology hub of Asia and recognised as the continent’s best city to work, play and live in. It is no wonder the city-state has not only been grabbing the attention of business enterprises but also that of expats who are attracted to the nation’s standout quality of living.
As such, more and more foreign talents and professionals are evidently eyeing Singapore as their second home by means of obtaining that coveted permanent resident (PR) status, which can act as a transitional step towards becoming a full-fledged citizen. The privileges that come with a permanent residency status are many, ranging from tax reliefs and subsidies to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) benefits. Similar to citizens, PRs in Singapore enjoy the country’s first-rate healthcare services, quality education and entry rights to public housing, all at highly subsidised rates.
The Various Singapore Permanent Resident Schemes
Due to the country’s ageing population (Singapore tops the list of ASEAN countries as the oldest society among the 10-member nations), the government welcomes foreign talents to its shores. Ideally, these new residents should have the potential to contribute positively to the nation’s overall growth and development.
If you feel that you can play a part in building and safeguarding Singapore’s future, there are several different routes that you, as a foreign national, can choose from to make Singapore your second home. They are the:
- Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme (ForArts)
- Professionals / Technical Personnel and Skilled Worker (PTS) Scheme
- Global Investor Programme (GIP) Scheme
Keep on reading to find out which of these three schemes would be relevant to your present situation and provide you with the strongest opportunity of getting your PR application approved.
Scheme 1: Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme
Initiated in 1991, the Foreign Artistic Talent (ForArts) scheme is a joint effort between the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the National Arts Council (NAC) that is targeted at internationally acclaimed artists. This option recognises those who have accomplished outstanding contributions that hold cultural significance in the fields of theatre, dance, photography, music, literature and film. This ForArts intiative was implemented to encourage talented and dedicated arts professionals around the world to elevate the arts and cultural landscape in Singapore through their diverse influence and engagement with local communities as a Singapore PR.
Applicants opting for the ForArts route are required to meet all of the following criteria to be considered as eligible:
- Have relevant education, training and professional experience in their related field of practice
- Been actively involved in local engagements with a strong leadership background
- Retain an excellent portfolio of achievements in the field of literary arts, visual arts, performing arts, media and/or design
- Possess the ability to influence and contribute significantly to the arts and cultural scene in Singapore
- Be passionate, dedicated and committed to the nation’s arts and cultural sector in the long run
Similar to any other PR application, the ICA will have the final say even if the applicant ticks all of the boxes in their application via ForArts.
Scheme 2: Professionals / Technical Personnel and Skilled Worker Scheme
The Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Worker (PTS) scheme is designed to present a window of opportunity for foreign professionals who are currently employed in the city-state and are keen on extending their stay in this cosmopolitan city indefinitely whilst pursuing their career goals. The aim is to retain foreign talents who are contributing positively to the country’s economy and possess the aptitude to become long term members of the city’s workforce.
Foreign professionals looking to obtain their PR status through the PTS scheme will require the following:
- Must hold an EntrePass, S-Pass, Employment Pass (EP) or Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)
- Must be employed and working in Singapore at the time of application
- Produce and submit salary slips for the past six months
The PTS scheme is one that gives preferentiality to foreign talents with a relevant professional background, sound financial histories and commendable contributions such as charity efforts for the local community. Other factors that may hold some weight include:
- Age of applicant
- Academic qualification and background
- Current industry of employment and professional vocation
- Income bracket
- Subject-matter expertise
- Community involvement i.e. charity drive or fundraisers
- Social integration
- Family ties and kinship in Singapore
Scheme 3: Global Investor Programme
An initiative launched in 2004 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Global Investor Programme (GIP) is a scheme specially tailored and reserved for high-net-worth foreign investors who are keen to initiate new business activities in Singapore or invest in existing Singapore-based corporations, and subsequently, obtain permanent resident status.
The prerequisites for the GIP are much more straightforward. As an investor who is interested in starting up a business or investing in Singapore, you can submit a GIP application if the following criteria are met:
- Possess a strong and successful entrepreneurial background
- Have a strong business track record
If these two conditions are met, the applicant may proceed with one of the two options within the GIP.
Option A: S$2.5 million investment in a new business entity or in the expansion of a prevailing business corporation
If the applicant chooses this option, he or she would have to submit a thorough five-year investment or business plan complete with annual financial forecasts and projected employment. This important plan has to be charted out realistically since the applicant would be required to achieve the milestones outlined and to fulfil the business plan within five years of the Permanent Residence Final Approval. Should the business plan involves the investment into an existing Singapore-based company, the company would have to achieve the following milestones:
(a) the hiring of at least five additional employees and
(b) an additional annual total business expenditure of at least S$1 million
Option B: S$2.5 million investment in a GIP fund that invests in Singapore-based companies
The second option presents investors with the opportunity to invest a portion of his or her net worth in Singapore-based companies (businesses currently incorporated in Singapore and executing its core activities in the city-state) in sectors promoted by EDB and/or other economic agencies. These sectors could include:
- Aerospace Engineering
- Alternative Energy/ Clean Energy
- Arts Businesses
- Consumer Business
- Engineering Services
- InfoComm Products & Services
- Logistics & Supply Chain Management
- Marine & Offshore Engineering
- Medical Technology
- Natural Resources
- Safety & Security
- Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology
- Precision Engineering
- Professional Services
- Sports Businesses
Once applicants have decided on one of the two options that is most relevant to their situation and have submitted their GIP application, the relevant authorities will then inspect and assess for the following:
- Possess at least three years of strong entrepreneurial and successful business track record
- Able to present audited financial statements of the company by an accredited audit firm for the last three years
- Company’s annual turnover is at least S$50 million in the year immediately preceding their application
- At least S$50 million per annum on average for the three years immediately preceding their application
- Minimally a 30 percent shareholder of the company if the business is privately held
Validity of Re-Entry Permit for Successful GIP Applicants
After your PR has been finalised, you will be issued with Re-Entry Permit (REP) that is valid for five years. This documentation is a permit that allows you to maintain PR status when you are out of the country. Following the five year duration, your REP would be renewed if you fulfil the following conditions:
For a 3-Year Renewal
You must have fulfilled the investment conditions under Option A of the GIP and either of the following:
(A) the company that you have invested in (under GIP Option A) employs at least 5 more employees in Singapore, in addition to those already employed at the third-year milestone, with at least five Singapore citizens amongst all employees, and
(B) the company that you have invested in (under GIP Option A) incurs an annual total business expenditure of at least S$1 million in Singapore at the third-year milestone;
You or at least one of your dependants, who is also a PR under your GIP application, must have resided in Singapore for more than half of the five-year duration (at least 2.5 years).
For a 5-Year Renewal
You must have fulfilled the investment conditions under Option A of the GIP;
(A) the company that you have invested in (under GIP Option A) employs at least 5 employees in Singapore, in addition to those already employed at the third-year milestone, with at least five Singapore citizens amongst all employees, and
(B) the company that you have invested in (under GIP Option A) incurs an annual total business expenditure of at least S$1 million more than the annual total business expenditure incurred in Singapore at the third-year milestone;
You and your dependants, who have received PR status under your GIP application, must have resided in Singapore for more than half of the time (at least 2.5 years).
Family Members Under PTS and GIP Scheme
Applicants with spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 at the date of application are eligible to apply for PR as their dependants under their PTS or GIP application.
However, unmarried children who are 21 years of age or older, as well as elderly parents of the applicants, are not eligible to apply for PR under both schemes. Instead, they can apply for a 5-year Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP). For aged parents under the GIP scheme, this 5-year LVTP is tied to the validity of the Singapore PR’s Re-Entry Permit (REP). Bear in mind that male children who obtain PR by virtue of their relation to you will be liable to attend two years of compulsory National Service (NS).
Which Route is for You?
With the three schemes all leading to the same goal of attaining your Singapore PR, some may wonder which is the most efficient path to take. To uncover which scheme would best fit you, speak to an experienced immigration specialist for their expert advice or take a read at this section.
1. PTS Scheme
The PTS scheme is by far the fastest and most preferred route for foreigners with their eye on the coveted Singapore PR status — on estimate, more than 95 percent of working professionals successfully attain their PR status via this. Applications typically take anywhere from two weeks to 12 months to process before you would receive an outcome of your application through a letter from the ICA.
While the GIP boasts equally high approval rates, it is specially reserved for high-net-worth foreign investors who are financially capable of investing millions of dollars into the country’s economy. However, this could be a hassle for some since applicants have to go through strict auditing checks and renew their REP every three or five years. The application process for GIP typically takes place across six to eight months.
Of the three, the ForArts scheme carries the lowest percentage of successful applicants, mainly due to its exclusivity for international artists in the performing arts and media industry with glittering track records. Applications via this scheme will be processed by the NAC before ICA’s assessment and the outcome is usually concluded within three months of NAC’s receipt of all relevant and supporting documents.
The Final Word
If you are still undecided or unsure of the next step, consult the qualified specialists at Paul Immigration who can help you determine your best course of action in your pursuit of Singapore PR status. Many have tried but few have succeeded in their application. Should you need any help with an eligibility assessment or require professional assistance in the submission of your application documents, do not hesitate to contact us by filling up our online inquiry form.