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Permanent Residence in Singapore - Updated for 2021

Obtain a Residence Permit in Singapore

Updated on Wednesday 01st September 2021

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Obtain-a-Residence-Permit-in-SingaporeTypes of residence permits in Singapore in 2021 

Singapore provides several types of visas for foreign citizens coming to the country depending on their purpose. Foreign citizens may become Singapore permanent residents through different schemes that allow them to work or invest in the city-state. Most foreigners apply for the permanent residence visa after working for few years in Singapore, but there are also other schemes through which foreign citizens may obtain residency. Once the residence permit is attained, a foreigner will enjoy most of the benefits as any other national, among which the right to buy a property in Singapore.
If you want to apply for permanent residence in Singapore and you are not sure on what the process may entail, our team of lawyers can help. Our law firm in Singapore can present the immigration rules that are imposed to foreigners relocating here and can offer advice on any other inquiry that you may have concerning residency.

Who is eligible for permanent residence in Singapore?

The eligibility for permanent residence (PR) in Singapore is extended to various categories of foreign citizens, in accordance with the regulations of the local law. Foreigners are entitled to apply for permanent residency provided that they are the spouse of a person who is a Singapore citizen or of a foreigner who has the Singapore PR
Children with an age below 21 years old are also eligible to apply for permanent residency and to obtain it, provided that they meet a set of requirements. They must be unmarried children of a couple that is legally married, or they can be the adopted children of persons who are Singapore citizens or residents
This right is also extended to other family members of Singapore citizens, such as parents. With regards to the rights of obtaining the permanent residency through family ties, these are all the scenarios that are regulated by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. Provided that a foreigner does not fall under any of the above, other options are available. 
For instance, foreigners are allowed to start the Singapore PR application process if they have arrived in this country for employment purposes. For this, they must be the holders of a qualifying employment pass; our team of lawyers in Singapore can present which are the main employment pass that can grant this opportunity. 
One can become eligible for permanent residency in the case in which the person had arrived in this country for study purposes; the same is applicable for foreigners who want to enter a business partnership or invest in the local economy; of course, each category of persons will have to follow similar procedures, but they will need to submit different types of papers. 

What are the rights of persons with permanent residence in Singapore? 

Those who have become permanent residents enjoy from numerous rights, comparable with the ones of local citizens. Although comparable, permanent residents do not have full rights prescribed by the local law for the citizens of the country – they can’t vote or have a Singapore passport, for instance. 
But the limitations are few and all permanent residents can live here and change jobs without the need to obtain a residence permit, enter the social security system, the health care system, benefit from pension rights, obtain loans for purchasing property or apply for Singaporean citizenship after a given amount of time. 

The residence scheme for foreigners working in Singapore


Singapore has developed a residence scheme through which foreign citizens working in the country may apply for a residence permit. The Professionals or Technical Personnel and Skilled Worker Scheme (PTS Scheme), as it is referred to, allows foreign professionals working in Singapore to obtain permanent residence. The most important requirement to qualify for the PTS Scheme is to have an employment pass at the time of the application. The applicant must be working in a Singapore company for six months before applying for the residence permit.
The immigration procedures in Singapore for those who need to obtain a residence permit have generally not changed in 2021, but new procedures may apply and this is why we recommend you to address to our team of lawyers for in-depth advice on the applicable rules. For instance, starting 1 May 2021, persons who are the owners of a Dependent Pass will need to comply with specific qualifications requirements in order to be eligible for employment; our team of lawyers in Singapore can offer further advice. 


What is the data on permanent residence in Singapore? 

Although Singapore has a small population, with only few million inhabitants, the number of foreigners living here as Singapore PR or otherwise is rather large compared to the size of the population. In the list below, you can find few highlights of the population structure in Singapore, as presented by the latest data gathered by the National Population and Talent Division
  • in June 2020, the Singapore population accounted for 5,69 million persons;
  • out of these, the resident population accounted for 4,04 million;
  • the residency is divided into two categories – the residents who are Singapore citizens and who account for 3,52 million persons, and the residents who are foreign citizens who have obtained the permanent residence in Singapore, and who account for 520,000 persons;
  • the rest of the population, of 1,64 million, represents foreigners who are non-residents and who have arrived here for various purposes, in most of the cases for employment;
  • the largest share, of 21%, of the non-resident population is represented by the holders of non-CPM (Construction, Marine and Process) permit. 
Other categories of non-residents refer to the following: 20% of the non-residents refer to the holders or the CPM Work permits, 17% of them are dependents of Singapore citizens or of foreigners who have successfully completed their Singapore PR application or who are dependents of Work Pass holders, while 15% of them are foreign domestic workers. 
12% are represented by persons who have received the Employment Pass, while other 12% are the holders of S Pass, which represents another type of employment permit issued for mid-level skilled workers. The lowest share of non-residents is represented by students enrolled in local education institutions.  

The Singapore permanent residence scheme for investors


Foreign investors benefit from a dedicated Singapore residence scheme. They can apply for a residence permit through the Global Investor Programme (GIP Scheme) which will allow them to start a business in Singapore or make other investments in the country. There are two options for foreign investors applying for residence permits in Singapore: they must invest at least SGD 2,5 million in a start-up or in an existing company or they must invest at least SGD 2,5 million in a Singapore Global Investor Programme fund.
Additionally, foreign investors coming to Singapore must also submit proof of a good business background and an achievable investment plan. Foreign investors must also meet certain criteria referring to the annual turnover of the companies they own. In order to comply with the GIP Scheme requirements they must submit annual financial statements for the last three years. For complete information about eligibility criteria for the residence permits, please contact our lawyers in Singapore.