An Introduction To Global Investor Programme (Family Office Principals)
Wealthy families seeking to move to Singapore have a clear path forward to permanent residency (“PR”) through the Global Investor Programme. The programme was launched in 2004 by the Singapore Economic Development Board (“EDB”) to draw successful entrepreneurs and families to the city-state. It enables applicants to obtain PR status, with the rights to live and work in Singapore.
For UHNW families and individuals with significant investible assets, GIP offers a “Family Office Principal” track wherein applicants can concurrently set up a family office and obtain PR status. This article will focus on exploring how such Family Office Principals may consider applying for GIP.
Singapore’s Position as a Top Wealth Hub
According to Knight Frank’s latest edition of The Wealth Report, their ten-year view predicts that Asia will surpass Europe as the second-largest wealth hub by 2026. In particular, Singapore is predicted to witness a 268% growth in its UHNWI population by the same time.
With Singapore’s recent complete re-opening of its borders, post-peak COVID-19 pandemic, the city-state is in position to solidify its spot as a top wealth hub globally. Aside from the stability of the local regulator environment and financial industry, Singapore serves as an attractive alternative base for wealthy families from North Asia.
Having adopted a moderate but flexible “living with COVID” mentality, residents in and travellers to Singapore benefit from a simplified travel framework where all fully vaccinated travellers are able to enter Singapore. No quarantine or COVID-19 test upon arrival or entry approvals are required. Additionally, Singapore is in the tailwinds of shifting Chinese business and supply chains to the greater Asia region given its longstanding business presence across Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and its familiarity with mainland Chinese processes.
Relocation to Singapore
Alongside the inflow of funds for management in Singapore, there is also a clear interest in moving to Singapore amongst HNW circles.
For wealthy families, Singapore serves as not only an ideal alternative base for business but is viewed as a safe haven for their long-term residency plans as well. In Global Finance Magazine’s World’s Safest Countries ranking, the city-state topped the list for countries in Asia-Pacific and was ranked fourth globally. Its multi-lingual population also enables an easier transition from home countries, with Singapore’s working language being English, and having a sizable Mandarin Chinese-speaking population.
Singapore offers various work passes offering residency rights in the city-state including, Employment Pass, Personalised Employment Pass and Entrepass. The passes are contingent on the individuals’ employment in Singapore and impose various restrictions on employment options, renewability, and overall quota of approved passes. Holders of work pass seeking to progress to becoming Singapore PRs often face a long path, competition against other pass holders and rejections without reasons given.
Under the Global Investor Programme, successful applicants are granted PR status in Singapore after the 9-12 month-long application process. The granted PR statuses have an initial 5-year validity period of the Re-Entry Permit, the latter which is renewable for another 5 or 3 years upon meeting prescribed conditions, which will be explained below.
Applying for GIP
Applicants for GIP must qualify for the programme under one of four profiles: Established Business Owners, Next Generation Business Owners, Founders of Fast Growth Companies or Family Office Principals.
To be a Family Office Principal, the applicant must possess at least 5 years of entrepreneurial investment or management track record and have net investible assets of at least S$200 million. “Net Investible Assets” include all financial assets, such as bank deposits, capital market products, collective investment schemes, and other investment products and excludes real estate.
Once qualified as a Family Office Principal, the applicant must invest S$2.5 million in a new or existing Singapore-based single family office having Assets-Under-Management (AUM) of at least S$200 million. At least S$50 million of the investible AUM has to be held in Singapore, while the rest of the assets may be held offshore.
EDB assesses and interviews applicants based on a detailed 5-year business plan for the single-family office, which must include projected employment and annual financial projections, as well as details such as the applicant’s role in the single-family office, the functions of the family office, proposed investment sectors, asset types and geographical focus. Additionally, EDB works alongside the relevant immigration authorities to conduct background checks on applicants’ profiles.
Approval for GIP
The review process for GIP applicants typically takes 9-12 months, after which approved applicants will have 6 months to make the investment of S$2.5 million into the single family office and a following 12 months to formalise their PR status at the immigration authority.
The Re-Entry Permit granted has an initial validity period of 5 years, and can be renewed for either another 5 or 3 years depending on the following:
- (i) The applicant has fulfilled the investment conditions under Option C of the GIP;
- (ii) The family office in Singapore invested in must employ at least 10 employees with at least 5 Singapore Citizens and 3 professionals, and incurs an annual total business expenditure of at least S$2 million by year 5 of the business plan;
- (iii) The applicant or all their dependants, who obtained PR under the GIP application, must have resided in Singapore for more than half of the time during the last 5 years.
For a 5-year renewal, the applicant must have fulfilled all three of the above criteria. For a 3-year renewal, the applicant must have fulfilled criteria (i), and either criteria (ii) or (iii).
As a private client firm, our Immigration and Family Offices department has a wealth of experience in navigating the GIP process to obtain PR statuses for our HNW clients and their family members. Our lawyers work closely with clients and their advisors, adopting a tailored approach to address families’ specific needs and requirements.
Should you or your clients require any assistance or advice, please feel free to contact our Business Development Team to schedule a consultation with our team.