Applying For Permanent Residency Through The Global Investor Programme Or Professionals/Technical Personnel And Skilled Workers Scheme
There are only six pathways to becoming a Singapore Permanent Resident (“PR”), eligible to:
- A spouse of a Singapore citizen or Singapore PR
- An unmarried child aged below 21 years old, born within the context of a legal marriage to, or legally adopted by, a Singapore citizen or PR
- An aged parent of a Singapore citizen
- A student studying in Singapore
- A holder of an Employment Pass (“EP”) or S Pass
- A foreign investor in Singapore
Working adults and business owners typically qualify for only the last two pathways – applying for PR as an Employment Pass or S Pass holder or as a foreign investor through the Global Investor Programme.
Most foreigners will apply for PR as an EP or S Pass holder. For the purposes of this article, this pathway is referred to as the “Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS)” route directly with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (“ICA”). The applicant would have needed to obtain an EP or S Pass and have resided/worked in Singapore before deciding to take the next step towards Permanent Residency.
For those who are interested in starting up a business or investing in Singapore on a larger scale, the Global Investor Programme (“GIP”) provides a direct pathway to PR. Only 200 individuals were accorded PR through the GIP from 2020 to 2022, in contrast with the total number of 34,500 people approved for PR in 2022 alone.
Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS)
Applications under this route are submitted directly to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. The application process itself is straightforward – it asks for standard information and documents on the applicant and their family members’ details and employment. Documents required include birth certificates, marriage certificates, employment confirmation letters, etc. However, what is not straightforward is the unwritten criteria that determine the outcome of the application.
Singapore, in contrast to the United Kingdom or the European Union, does not provide an automatic legal right to PR upon meeting a defined set of criteria.
Instead, approvals are guided by public policy, such as ensuring racial harmony, encouraging fertility rates to offset the ageing population, and maintaining an educated workforce. Accordingly, applications are evaluated on a broad set of criteria covering a range of factors such as the applicant’s family ties to Singaporeans, economic contributions, educational qualifications, age and family profile, the applicant’s ability to integrate into society, and commitment to sinking roots in Singapore.
For example, ICA expects families to apply as a unit. While parents who have sons below the age of 21 years may be tempted to not include their sons in the application to avoid national service liability, this would have an adverse implication on the likelihood of the application’s approval. However, this is not made clear on the ICA website.
Applications take an estimated 6 to 9 months to process once submitted, which may vary according to the complexity of the case. ICA does not disclose the reasons for rejection.
Once approved, PRs under the PTS route are expected to reside primarily in Singapore, and the renewal of their Re-Entry Permit (“REP”) (which allows PRs to travel overseas without losing their PR status) is based on whether they are still living in and contributing to Singapore’s economy. Generally, PRs are at risk of losing their status if they move abroad.
Global Investor Programme (GIP)
The GIP is a residency-by-investment programme administered by the Economic Development Board (“EDB”) in conjuction with ICA, and aimed at attracting successful business owners or ultra-high-net-worth families to invest in Singapore.
The programme has attracted about S$5.46 billion in investments from 2011 to 2022, generated more than 24,000 jobs and as at October 2022, GIP investors have also injected S$1.62 billion into approved GIP funds, of which fund managers have deployed S$1.41 billion into actual investments, about 65.6 per cent of which have been invested in Singapore-based companies.
There are four categories of qualifying profiles and three investment options for the GIP:
|· Established Business Owner
· Next Generation Business Owner
· Founder of Fast Growth Companies
· Family Office Principles (only Option C investment)
|A. Invest S$10 million in a new business entity or in the expansion of an existing business operation in Singapore;
B. Invest S$25 million in a GIP-select fund that invests in Singapore-based companies;
C. Establish a Singapore-based Single-Family Office with Assets-Under-Management (AUM) of at least S$200 million, where minimally S$50 million must be transferred into Singapore and deployed in four investment categories of local investments.
The above table only provides a summary of the full requirements.
Applicants will have to submit detailed documentation on their businesses, including audited financial statements, shareholding structure, and valuation reports. Chiefly, applicants who have chosen the Option A and C investment options will need to submit a 5-year business plan for their Singapore business/ family office.
EDB will invite applicants for an interview after submission of their GIP application, after which ICA will conduct the necessary background checks on the applicant. The 1-year-long process involves constant discussion with EDB, allowing the applicant to clarify with EDB should there be any issues with their application.
Approval of a GIP PR application centers around the applicant’s business plans in Singapore and their planned economic contributions. This allows applications to leave out any members of the family unit, without any adverse implications. Male children who are single can opt for a Long-Term Visit Pass (“LTVP), which is tied to the applicant’s PR, instead of obtaining PR themselves.
Additionally, unmarried children above the age of 21 can apply for an LTVP as well (whereas ICA under the PTS scheme only allows unmarried children under the age of 21 to apply for an LTVP).
Once an applicant obtains PR under the GIP, the renewal of their REP is also contingent on them meeting EDB’s criteria. This allows PRs to renew their REP for 5 years if:
- They have met the economic contribution requirements (varies according to the chosen investment option), and
- The main applicant or all their dependents who have PR staus have resided in Singapore for at least 2.5 years out of the last 5 years.
A 3-year renewal will still be granted if the applicant has met either condition a) or b). This allows greater flexibility for individuals wanting PR, but do not have any present plans to reside in Singapore.
For example, an individual obtains PR under the GIP in 2024 and their REP is granted for an initial 5 years. However, cannot meet the residency requirements and by 2029, they failed to meet the residency requirements. They had set up a Singapore company in 2024, and employ 30 employees (15 of which are Singaporeans) by 2029. Their REP would be renewed for 3 years.
Additionally, further applications for Singapore citizenship would also fall under EDB’s discretion and approvals would be based on the applicant’s economic and social contributions to Singapore.
In essence, the GIP is ideal for successful business owners or high-net-worth individuals who are looking to establish significant business operations in Singapore and want to have clear criteria by which they are awarded residency status in Singapore.
Our private client practice has a wealth of experience in assisting clients with their immigration and residency plans in Singapore. With our years of expertise in navigating the PR process, through both the PTS Scheme and GIP, coupled with our precedent bank built over close to 30 years, our lawyers are well-equipped to guide our clients in their applications and provide advice on the next steps required to reach their holistic needs and goals.
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.
 See note 1.