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Applying for Permanent Residency in Singapore – What a Foreigner Needs to Know

By Amelia Tsui, Dezan Shira & Associates
Posted: 16th July 2015 11:03

Known as one of Asia’s more stable and well-developed countries, Singapore has increasingly become an attractive business environment for many prudent foreigner business professionals and investors. A contributing factor to Singapore’s success is the government’s strong incentives program for foreign talent to commit to the country.

One such incentive is the permanent residency (PR) scheme, with basic perks including the freedom to enter and exit the country, the right to purchase real estate, employer contribution to Singapore’s social security network (Central Provident Fund or CPF), and a certain degree of job security. With these incentives in place, the government hopes to continue to draw in talented professionals who can strongly contribute to the country, both economically and culturally.

Why Apply?

The benefits of being a permanent resident in Singapore include freedom of entry and exit into and out of the country, which can be extended to family members. A permanent resident is also given the opportunity to invest in real estate, and is granted priority access to Singapore’s world-renowned public education system.
Permanent residents who work in Singapore are required to contribute to the country’s compulsory social security scheme: the Central Provident Fund. PRs are not only able to utilize the CPF to invest in real estate and other approved funds, but can also deduct CPF contributions from their monthly taxable income.
Ease of Doing Business

The Singaporean government has implemented various measures that favor permanent residents who conduct business in the country.

1. Corporate Establishment

Company set-up requirements include one shareholder and one resident director. The shareholder can either be a corporate body or an individual, but the resident director must ordinarily reside in Singapore. They must also either be a Singaporean citizen, permanent resident, employment pass holder, approval-in-principle employment pass holder, or a dependent pass holder. A foreign company may establish a local branch in Singapore, and two local agents must be appointed. A Singaporean permanent resident can be one of the above mentioned agents.

2. Job Security

Taking on PR status also provides one with a certain degree of job security. If a non-permanent resident (Work Permit or S-Pass) loses their job, they must find a new one within a few weeks or leave the city-state. The permanent resident does not. Furthermore, there are more jobs available for citizens and permanent residents, giving PRs a wider pool of job opportunities.

Path to Citizenship

Lastly, should one decide to apply for Singaporean nationality and become a Singaporean citizen, the only path for foreigners to obtain a Singapore passport is through becoming a PR first. The benefits of being a Singaporean citizen are much more extensive. The only potential downside is the mandatory national service once male Singaporean citizens turn eighteen.

Who can Apply

In general, Singapore favors most individuals who can positively contribute to society and the economy. Foreigners able to apply for permanent residency if they are skilled professionals currently working in Singapore. This method is known as the Professionals/ Technical Personnel & Skilled Worker Scheme (PTS). Known as the easiest way of obtaining permanent residency in Singapore, this route only requires that a person holds an employment pass/visa, and has proof of at least six months’ work in the country prior to application.
Foreigners can also go through the Global Investor Program (GIP). When utilizing this method, one must invest at least 2.5 million Singaporean dollars into a new business startup, or the same amount into a fund that is approved by the GIP.

How to Apply

One applies for permanent residency through the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website. The application process length depends on who is applying, but usually takes approximately 6-12 months. Once approved, permanent residents are entitled to stay in Singapore without any visa restrictions.


There are a variety of other Permanent Residency schemes in the ASEAN region. Permanent residency has many lifestyle and business perks, and can be quite simple to obtain. As ASEAN countries continue to encourage foreign investment, permanent residency status may become more attractive to foreign professionals.

In the case of Singapore, the government has implemented various schemes and programs that grant talented foreigners easy access to its PR status. Many of the perks involved with becoming a permanent resident greatly benefit those foreigners who intend to stay in Singapore for more than three years.

This article was first published on ASEAN Briefing.

Since its establishment in 1992, Dezan Shira & Associates has been guiding foreign clients through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assisting them with all aspects of legal, accounting, tax, internal control, HR, payroll and audit matters. As a full-service consultancy with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India and emerging ASEAN, we are your reliable partner for business expansion in this region and beyond.

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