The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the worst downturn since the island-state’s independence. Retrenchments are on the rise, and expats will bear most of the brunt of these layoffs.
Specifically, expats in Singapore face:
- Pay cuts (if they’re lucky enough to still hold on to their jobs)
- A higher minimum salary to qualify for work permits
- Difficulty finding new jobs as the government has been pushing businesses to hire locally
If you’re an expat still hoping to stay on, one option is to get Permanent Residence (PR) here. Today, we’ll go through how to get your PR in Singapore.
Why Become a Singapore Permanent Resident?
Before making the decision to become a PR in Singapore, it’s worth weighing whether it’s worth it. Here are some of the benefits:
Employment and Finances:
- Freely change jobs, and get greater priority when applying for a new job. In comparison, work visa holders have to cancel their existing visa and re-apply for a new one whenever they apply for a new job — and risk rejection, of course.
- Get access to the financial benefits from Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme for retirement, medical, and educational expenses.
- Fewer restrictions when running a business in Singapore.
- More access to government support, as expats who only hold an Employment Pass aren’t currently eligible.
- Include your spouse and dependents on your PR application.
- Long Term Social Visit Pass for family to stay with you in Singapore.
- You can buy resale HDB flats.
- Your children (if any) get a higher priority to enter Singapore’s public schools, with lower school fees throughout.
- You can live in, enter, and leave the country multiple times without having to re-apply for visas. You’ll receive a blue identification card.
- Easier travel, especially with COVID-19 likely becoming endemic and more restrictions in play when you leave and enter the country.
Types of PR Schemes
You can apply for PR if you either a) hold an Employment Pass or S Pass, or b) are a foreign investor in Singapore, among others.
There are currently three PR schemes you can apply under:
- Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Worker Scheme (PTS). This scheme is meant for foreign professionals who are already living and working in Singapore.
- Global Investor Programme (GIP). This is for foreigners who can invest a minimum of $2.5 million into the local economy.
- Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme (ForArts). This is meant for globally-acclaimed artists.
Hands down, the PTS is the quickest and easiest way to get Singapore Permanent Residency compared to the rest of the schemes. The GIP is only reserved for wealthy folks and the ForArts for famous and significant artists.
Applying for PTS
You can technically apply for PR the day you start working as an Employment Pass holder, but it’s worth waiting at least six months before you do.
That’s because one of the requirements for PR is to provide six months of payslips from your Singapore-based company.
1) Consider your chances
To have a successful application, you’ll have to show the government that you are an asset to the country and that you’ll contribute to Singapore’s development. Some of the things officials look at under the PTS scheme include:
- Family ties in Singapore if any.
- Presence. You must have been working and living in Singapore under your work pass for at least six months before applying. Even better, wait at least a year to apply because the length of your stay in Singapore matters.
- Income. You’ll need to provide payslips for the months you’ve worked in the country. Your salary will affect your chances of approval. You’ll roughly need a salary of $6,000 – $8,000 and up to $12,000 if you’re also applying for your family members.
- Employment details. Provide the credentials of your employer. Usually, if you’re working with an older and more financially stable company, your chances of PR approval are higher.
- Background. Include your previous employment and education details. The more prestigious educational institutions boost your chances.
- Personal character: You’ll have higher chances if you did not break the law, have proof of charitable contributions, or did community work.
2) Applying for PR for your family
If you’re married with your spouse and children living in Singapore, you can apply for PR for them too.
But do think carefully before making the application for your children. Applicants who are granted PR status under the PTS and GIP scheme are exempted from NS. But all healthy males that got PR thanks to their parents must register for military service. It all depends on your personal views on this topic, so decide accordingly.
How will your application be assessed?
Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) considers if you have family ties to any Singaporeans, your salary, educational qualifications, age, family profile, and length of residency.
The government will assess your ability to contribute to Singapore and integrate into society as well as your commitment to putting roots down.
What’s the process like?
You can only apply for PR online via the ICA’s eService platform.
Applying for PR requires an exhaustive list of documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, tertiary qualifications, previous employers’ testimonials, tax assessments, and professional license and membership certificates.
You can check out ICA’s PR application checklist here.
Once your online application goes through, you’ll be scheduled for an appointment at the ICA building for an interview. This is also where you’ll submit the documents.
How much does it cost?
You’ll have to pay a non-refundable fee of S$100 for each applicant. If ICA approves your application, you’ll need to pay another S$120 per person for the Entry Permit, 5-year Re-Entry Permit and Identity Card issuance.
How long does it take?
The Permanent Residency application usually takes 4 to 6 months to process. Make sure your documents are in good order, or the process will be delayed.
Approximately 30,000 applicants are given Permanent Residency each year. But because of COVID-19 restrictions, only 27,500 people were given PR status last year.
What if my PR application gets rejected?
Don’t give up and apply again. There’s no limit on the number of times you can submit an application for Permanent Residency.
But do try to wait at least another six months from your last result before you re-apply. Use that time in-between to build a stronger case, get a job promotion or higher salary, buy a property, do some charity community work, or invest in your education.