Immigration in Singapore - Local Immigration Lawyers
Immigration in Singapore
Updated on Monday 29th May 2023
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Whether you have obtained ajob opportunity in Singapore, or want to invest here on a long-term basis, or want to relocate here for the purpose or reuniting with family members or for any other reasons, you will need to verify the legislation on immigration in Singapore.
The manner in which a foreigner will immigrate to Singapore will be completed based on the category in which the person can be integrated into.
A foreigner living in this country is also entitled to obtain the permanent residency and there are several categories of foreigners who can become permanent residents of the country. This right is also available for foreigners who move to Singapore from US.
This provides a set of attractive benefits, especially when we consider that Singapore is one of the most developed economies of the world, having one of the highest standards of living. If you need counseling when relocating here,our team of lawyers in Singapore can help you.
Entry visa requirement (from EU) (YES/NO)
Visa exemptions are available for EU citizens; however, all foreigners need to obtain an e-Pass
Entry visa requirement (outside EU) (YES/NO)
Visas are necessary for the nationals of certain non-EU countries.
Types of visas available for immigration in Singapore
Visas for employment, visas for entrepreneurs, visas for family reunification, visas for trainees and students.
Time frame for obtaining work visa (approx.)
Approximately 3 to 5 working days.
Validity of temporary residence permit
Minimum 6 months and up to 2 years, depending on the visa.
Temporary residence permit renewal requirements
It depends on the pass obtained by the foreigner - for example, for the Employment Pass, renewals must contain the proof of Covid-19 vaccination, the renewal form, the supporting documents for employment in Singapore, etc.
Documents for obtaining a residence permit
The documents that must be prepared vary based on the visa the foreigner wants to obtain. (for Employment Pass the necessary documents are: personal identification papers, information on the education of the applicant, a written consent of the company that will hire the applicant, the application form and others).
Time frame for obtaining permanent residence (approx.)
The issuance of a permanent residence permit takes approximately 4 to 6 months.
Investor Visa availability (YES/NO)
Yes, immigration in Singapore is possible possible under the investor visa (Global Investor Program).
Start-up Visa Scheme availability (YES/NO)
Yes, the Entrepreneur Pass allows immigration in Singapore for those interested in the startup sector.
Sponsorship requirement (YES/NO)
Yes, but it depends on the visa.
Time frame for obtaining citizenship
Foreigners can apply for citizenship after 2 years of becoming permanent residents in Singapore.
Citizenship/Residency by investment scheme availability (YES/NO)
Residency by investment is possible.
Taxation of foreign citizens
Non-residents are taxed with a progressive income tax (ranging from 0% to 22%).
Tax benefits for expats
Income from professional services paid to non-residents is taxed at a rate of 15% (personal income tax). Rent and royalties are charged at a rate of 10%. Income obtained outside Singapore is not charged in Singapore.
How can one receive the permanent residence in Singapore?
The advantage of having permanent residency as a foreigner in Singapore provides numerous benefits, one of them being that the foreigners will be able to work and live here following the same procedures available for local citizens.
More importantly, the rules for immigration in Singapore stipulate that a permanent resident will be able to travel without applying for specific types of visas. Some of the basic legal pathways for obtaining the permanent residence are the following:
a foreign applicant can apply for himself/herself, but also for his or her family members, including for children with an age below 21 years old;
the legislation on immigration in Singapore allows investors to obtain the permanent residency under the Investor Scheme (formally known as the Global Investor Program);
persons who will arrive in Singapore for the purpose of working here are also entitled to the permanent residency if they have an Employment Pass or an Entrepreneur Pass;
most of the permanent residency requests done by foreign employees are completed through the Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Worker Scheme;
What is the process of obtaining the residence permit in Singapore?
If you want to migrate to Singapore and you will need a residence permit, you will have to comply with the requirements mentioned above.
However, regardless of the reason for which you need the residence permit, the legislation on immigration to Singapore stipulates that all applicants will have to follow the same steps.
The applications for residence permits are all done using the e-Service of the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority of Singapore. Depending on your legal situation, when applying, you will be using your Singpass account, which can also be issued for foreigners arriving here.
However, certain categories of foreigners that immigrate to Singapore will not have a Singpass account – this is the case of foreign students, who will have to use aForeign Identification Number that they were issued upon their arrival in the country.
You must also be prepared to pay a processing fee, which is currently charged at the standard rate of S$100.
Please mind that the applications are generally processed in a period of 4 to 6 months, but in some cases, it can take longer than 6 months. Our team of lawyers in Singaporecan offer more information on the documents you should prepare for your residence permit application.
For successful applications, the law on immigration to Singapore imposes additional fees. For instance, the issuance of an Entry Permit will cost $20, the issuance of re-Entry Permit available for a period of 5 years will cost $50 and the issuance of an Identity Card will cost $50.
Applicants can pay these fees via different payment systems, such as the debit/credit card or the mobile payment applications.
You are invited to contact our immigration lawyers in Singaporeif you are interested in applying for any of the immigration documents that grant the right to live in this country for a limited period of time or on a permanent basis.
Our lawyers can help you relocate here with your family members and can explain the procedure of becoming a citizen of this country and the conditions you need to fulfill.
Please consider that if you want to obtain a residence permit in Singaporeon a permanent basis, you will also have to enlist with the National Service. This is a requirement for all male citizens and permanent residents who have an age of minimum 18 years old.
Exemptions from this can apply in certain cases. This can apply for those who arrived here as investors, for example.
Can foreigners become citizens of Singapore?
As it is the case of other jurisdictions, Singapore grants the right to citizenship to foreigners.
However, persons interested in becoming local citizens must be aware that the legislation on immigration in Singapore stipulates that once a foreigner becomes a Singaporean citizen, then he or she has to renounce his basic citizenship, as the national law does not allow dual citizenship.
Although the legal procedures regulating immigration to Singapore do not allow dual citizenship, becoming a Singaporean citizen can have multiple advantages.
First, this country ranks as one of the most competitive economies of the world and it has a high quality of life. Having a Singaporean passport opens the possibility of accessing 189 other countries, and the holder of the passport can benefit from numerous liberal visa policies.
If you plan to immigrate to Singapore on a permanent basis, you must also be aware that only persons who have the quality of Singaporean citizens can purchase properties here that are subsidized by the Housing and Development Board.
With regards to properties, regardless if they are purchased or rented, there are specific differences between foreigners, permanent residents and Singaporean citizens, with the latter having the most of the advantages and this should be a matter that one should take into consideration if one wants to migrate to Singapore on a permanent basis.
How can our lawyers help you when moving in Singapore?
Our team of lawyers in Singapore can present the steps that are to be followed when applying for permanent residency and for becoming a citizen, but, prior to entering these processes, numerous steps must be concluded, such as:
gathering the required paperwork;
submitting it to the local immigration authorities;
waiting for a decision and others.
Given that the legislation on immigration in Singapore is comprised of several categories, our lawyers can provide in-depth information on what type of legal pathway is best suited for you when moving here, based on your personal situation.
Our law firm in Singapore can help businessmen in applying for a suitable investment scheme and we can also present the types of visas, some of them being the following:
the Employment Pass Scheme;
Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) Scheme;
Personalised Employment Pass Scheme;
S Pass Scheme;
the Dependent Pass Scheme.
What are the main visas foreigners can obtain in Singapore?
The documents presented above represent some of the most important visa options that foreigners can obtain when arriving here.
It must be noted that Singapore does not have an extensive list of visas, as it is the case of other countries, such as New Zealand or Australia. In Singapore, most of the visas foreigners can apply for are related to work activities.
There are few other visas that can be issued for other purposes, but there are only few options. In this section, our team of lawyers in Singapore will present the visa categories currently open for foreigners. The visa streams are divided based on the level of qualifications foreigners have.
For persons with a high level of skills, who will apply for well paid jobs and who will occupy important functions, there are three main visa options:
the Employment Pass, available for persons working as executive or managers, who can earn at least $4,500 per month;
the EntrePass, available for business purposes, for investors who can invest in innovative projects or innovative technologies;
the Personalized Employment Pass, open for persons who are the holders of the Employment Pass or for top professionals working overseas.
For persons who qualify as skilled workers and semi-skilled workers, the visa options are more extensive compared to the one presented above, as follows:
the S Pass, available for foreign workers who qualify for job positions that pay at least $2,500 per month (for 2023, salary requirement is of $3,000);
the Work Permit for Migrant Workers, issued for persons who qualify as semi-skilled workers who can develop work activities related to manufacturing, construction or the services sector;
the Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Worker.
Foreigners can also apply for the Work Permit for Confinement Nannies, which is a type of visa that is granted to Malaysian nannies, that can work in this country for a period of 16 weeks since the moment when a woman in Singapore has had a baby.
There is also the possibility to apply for a Work Permit for performing Artist, a document that can be obtained by any foreigner who works in the entertainment sector, in places such as hotels, nightclubs, pubs and other similar locations.
Although most of the visa types are issued for employmentpurposes and most of the foreigners who immigrate to Singapore come here for the purpose of employment, the legislation also prescribes the right to arrive here for study purposes.
In this sense, there are few visa options, but all of them include a work related activity, whether that is a training in a local company or an actual employment activity.
Thus, young persons and graduates can apply for the Training Employment Pass, an immigration document that can be obtained when a foreigner wants to develop a training activity in Singapore, activity that is remunerated with at least $3,000 per month.
Just like in other countries, Singapore has a work holiday program, which is a program that is addressed to young foreigners or students that grants them the right to visit the country and to develop a short-term work activity.
In Singapore, the Work Holiday Pass can be obtained by young persons with an age of 18 to 25 years old, who can develop a work activity here while visiting the country. The visa can be issued for a period of maximum 6 months.
Another category of Work Holiday Pass is created for Australian citizens, who can enter the program under different conditions than the standard ones.
Thus, the Australian citizens can arrive here under the Work Holiday Program for a period of up to one year (double than in the case of other visa applicants) and the age criteria is also, more extensive. Thus, Singapore welcomes Australian citizens with an age of minimum 18 years old to 30 years old.
The program is open for students and university graduates. Our law firm in Singapore can offer more details on the process of entering this visa program, as well as other conditions that the applicants have to comply with.
Young foreigners can also opt to arrive in this country under the Training Work Permit, available for semi-skilled students and trainees, who can participate in a training program that has a duration of maximum 6 months.
The law in Singaporealso prescribes few visas options for family reunification programs. You are invited to contact our team of lawyers in Singapore if you need advice on any of the following visas:
Dependant’s Pass, Long Term Visit Pass;
Pre-Approved Letter of Consent;
Letter of Consent for Dependant’s Pass Holders who arrived in Singapore for business purposes.
Below, we invite you to watch a short presentation on immigration in Singapore:
Highlights on immigration in Singapore
Singapore is a country with a small population (of 6,209,660 persons in July 2020), being comprised mostly of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnic groups.
The immigrant population accounts for a significant part of the overall population of the country, following the more relaxed immigration regulations that were taken under the applicable law, and some the highlights of the country’s demographics are presented below:
in the 2000 census, it was revealed that the non-resident population accounted for 18,8% of the total population;
between 1990 and 2000, the permanent residents population increased at a very fast pace (of 10%) compared to the Singaporean population (when we refer to Singaporean citizens), which increased only at a rate of 1,3% per year;
the largest share of foreign permanent residents in 2000 was comprised of Chinese citizens (accounting for 220,762 persons from a total permanent resident population of 290,118);
the current net migration rate of the country (measured in 2020), is of 11,8 migrants pers 1,000 inhabitants;
in 2019, there were 2,16 million immigrants living in Singapore.
What is the Singapore immigration policy for the S Pass?
The S Pass is a type of employment permit that grants access to residency in Singapore to foreigners who qualify as high skilled workers.
A condition to obtain this permit is to have a job offer in Singapore prior to the arrival in the country, which implies that when starting the application, the foreigner must offer clear information concerning the job description, the employer, the salary, etc.
One of the Singapore immigration requirements is to have a fixed monthly salary, that meets the minimum standards imposed by the current law.
The salary requirements can vary based on the sector in which the person will activate. Our immigration lawyers in Singapore have prepared a short presentation concerning the salary aspects you should be aware of when applying for the S Pass:
the basic salary requirement is of $3,000 for any application submitted after the date of 1 September 2022;
the salary requirement increases based on the age of the applicant and those who are 45 years old and above must have a minimum salary of $4,500;
persons who will apply after 1 September 2023 will need a minimum salary offer of $3,150 and $4,650 respectively (the requirement is imposed for new applications and for renewals);
the minimum salary for a person working in the financial industry, who has an age of minimum 45 years old, is of $5,500.
What are the steps for the S Pass application?
The Singapore immigration policy imposes certain steps for the S Pass application, which have to be followed as such by all interested applicants.
The procedure is comprised of 5 basic steps, which are presented below by our immigration lawyers in Singapore:
the first step is to prepare and submit the application, which must contain all the required documentation;
the employer must then make the necessary arrangements for the arrival of the applicant;
then, the S Pass is issued;
the candidate is then required to submit a recent photo and register his or her fingerprints;
obtain the S Pass.
Of course, these immigration SG steps apply only in the case of successful applications.
What are other Singapore immigration requirements for the S Pass?
Above, we have presented the basic requirements that have to be fulfilled for the issuance of the S Pass. However, other conditions must be satisfied throughout the period of time in which the person has his or her residency in Singapore.
One of them is the minimum salary, that has to be adjusted to the age of the foreign worker and the industry in which he or she is employed.
The law states that the holder of the S Pass is allowed to change the job he or she initially applied for and can also change the employer. If this is the case, the application for the change of the job/employer has to be initiated by the current employer.
The S Pass is initially issued for a period of 2 years, but foreigners have the right to a renewal of the document. A renewed S Pass can be granted for a period of 3 years, as per the rules stated by the Ministry of Manpower.
Please mind that the renewal procedure must be initiated with 6 months prior to the expiration date of the first S Pass, following the legal procedures, which can be presented by our immigration lawyers in Singapore.
Persons who will apply for a renewal will also have to pay a processing fee of $100. After the application is submitted, if done correctly, the person can obtain the document in a period of 3 weeks, which is generally the standard duration for the processing of the application.
How can foreign investors migrate to Singapore?
A category of foreigners that can opt to immigrate to Singapore is the one represented by foreign investors. With a highly competitive economy, Singapore welcomes foreign businessmen that can invest in specific economic sectors that are of importance for the local authorities.
For this, investors can apply for the Investor Scheme, as long as they can satisfy the minimum investment thresholds (S$2,5 million invested in a newly founded business that will operate as a startup; the same capital can also be used for investments in an approved fund that invests in Singaporean companies).
Besides this capital threshold, the requirements for immigration to Singapore impose that the investor must have at least 3 years of experience in the business environment and, if the businessman already has other companies operating in other countries, specific company documents will have to be disclosed as well.
If you are a foreign businessman and you want to invest in this country, our team of lawyers in Singapore can easily provide legal assistance and assist you in the process of opening a local company.
If you want to migrate to Singapore for this purpose, you will have to prepare a business plan for your newly founded company for the first three years of activity and to include your projections for the respective period of time.
The application for this investment program will be processed in a period of 6 to 8 months; in this period of time, you can also expect to participate in an interview with the local authorities. If the application is successful, you will be issued with a temporary residence permit, valid for a period of 6 months.
In the respective period of time, you will have to start the formalities for opening a business or investing in any of the funds that are approved for this investment program.
According to the law on immigration to Singapore, you will be issued with a permanent residence permit once all the formalities are completed.
Please mind that you can also bring your family members to live in Singapore under this investment program. For more details on how to immigrate to Singapore, please send your inquiries to our law firm.
If you need more details on the legislation for immigration in Singapore, please address to our law firm. Our team of lawyers in Singapore will gladly provide you with the necessary answers you need and can also represent you in the process of relocating to this country, by applying for a suitable visa scheme.
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