As one of the safest countries globally, Singapore has garnered a reputation for its high standard of living, political stability, and strategic infrastructure. Lest we forget, the nation also touts world-class healthcare services, and its free-market economy and multiple international trading links are ideal for employment and entrepreneurial ambitions.
With such excellent reasons to live in Singapore, it is unsurprising to learn that Singapore often features among the best destinations to live and work for an expat.And after spending some time on this beautiful island, many expats have even considered becoming Permanent Residents (PR). If you are reading this guide, you are probably thinking the same thing too!
However, Singapore has a stringent PR selection policy, with various PR requirements to fulfill before a candidate is eligible for PR. Even then, only a fraction of the PR applications are accepted yearly. So as you can see, obtaining PR status is no mean feat. With that said, there are ways to boost your chances of success. Check out our comprehensive guide to applying for Singapore PR to learn more.
The first step to becoming a Singapore PR is to understand the PR eligibility criteria and the avenues available to you. Fortunately, Singapore has always maintained an open-door policy on the migration of foreign talent to boost the nation’s population. Read on to learn about the multiple routes to apply for Singapore PR.
1. The Professional, Technical, and Skilled Worker Scheme (PTS)
The Professional, Technical, and Skilled Worker scheme (or PTS for short) is the easiest and most assured route for expats seeking to become Singapore PR. You are eligible for this scheme as long as you are working in Singapore and holding the following work visa – Employment Pass, Entrepreneur Pass, Personalised Employment Pass, or S Pass – at the time of your PR application.
2. Global Investor Programme
Foreign entrepreneurs starting a business with a minimum investment of S$2.5 million, or investing a similar sum in an established business in Singapore, can consider applying for Singapore PR through the Global Investor Programme (GIP scheme). The good news is that your immediate family members also qualify for this programme.
Currently, there are two investment options available:
Please note that there are other criteria to fulfill, including having an entrepreneurial background, a good business track record, and a business proposal or investment plan, in addition to the minimum funds you invest.
3. Family Sponsor PR Scheme
If you relocate to Singapore with your family, you do not have to fret that your spouse, children, and parents will be left out. Your family can apply for Singapore PR through the Family Sponsor PR scheme if you are already a Singapore PR.
4. Singapore PR Scheme for Students
Expats migrating to Singapore for their studies are eligible for Singapore PR too! You must hold on to a Student Pass and live in Singapore for at least two years at the time of your PR application. You must also study in a local educational institution and have passed at least one national-level examination.
5. Foreign Artistic Talent Programme
Singapore boasts a thriving art scene that the government wishes to cultivate. So if you have a talent in the arts – dance, film, literature, music, photography, or theatre – you can consider applying for PR through the Foreign Artistic Talent scheme.
To qualify for this programme, you must possess the relevant training in your field or practice and be a well-recognised artist in your home country. You must also be involved in the Singapore arts and cultural sector and make significant contributions to the local scene.
As you scroll through the PR requirements online, you will notice a section indicating the documents required for your Singapore PR application. These documents play an essential role in your application process, and missing out on even a single one constitutes an incomplete submission, resulting in an automatic rejection.
So it is essential for you to organise all of the necessary documents before proceeding. We recommend compiling a checklist to help you get started on the process. Along the way, you can cross each item from the list once you have it prepared. Here is a checklist of various documents required for your Singapore PR application:
It is also an excellent idea to include value-add documents like testimonials, reference letters, proof of professional achievements, and a cover letter to stand out from the crowd. The more relevant documents and information you provide, the higher your chances of success.
Compiling your essential documents is only one aspect of a comprehensive checklist of tasks you must fulfil before filing your PR application. And with a seven days submission deadline from the moment you begin your PR application, we recommend preparing everything in advance to avoid missing out on anything at the last moment. Let us share what you must do beforehand to ensure a smooth application process.
1. Compile your documents
As we have covered, do note the necessary and additional documents you need before you file your PR application. Once you begin the process, you will have seven days to submit the complete documents or risk rejection. So double-check to ensure every document required for your Singapore PR application is with you.
2. Check for any mistakes
Speaking from experience, we have seen many applicants fail in their PR applications due to their haste in submitting their documents. As a result, they neglect to check and ensure that the information provided is accurate, which you will want to avoid. So double-check the content of your documents for any basic mistakes.
Pay close attention to your certificates to ensure your name matches the one in the document and the information displayed is complete. If there are any omissions or errors, you must take the necessary steps to rectify the mistakes and get the documents replaced.
3. Ensure the documents are translated correctly
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) stipulates that any non-English document accompanying a PR application must be translated. Failure to comply will result in an automatic rejection. If any supporting documents are in your native language, you should get them translated beforehand. Do ensure the translations are error-free.
Please note that the ICA only accepts translations from three specific places:
4. Keep the original documents in your possession
Just because you have submitted your PR application does not mean that you no longer have a need for your supporting documents. Once your PR status is approved, you must present the original documents to the immigration officer. So ensure you have them on hand to avoid any delay after your successful application.
5. Ensure all documents are scanned in high resolution
As you prepare the documentation for your PR application, ensure each document is scanned in high resolution. Every detail must be visible in the digital copies of your documents. Any information that is indecipherable may result in an automatic rejection. Therefore, we recommend using a quality scanner instead of taking a picture with your phone camera.
The PR application process can be tedious and complex. And with various details to fill in and supporting documents to include, it is not uncommon for applicants to commit errors during the process. Unfortunately, these mistakes can affect your chances of becoming a Singapore PR. Avoid letting such a scenario happen by learning about the common PR application mistakes candidates frequently make.
Mistake #1: Applying too early for Singapore PR
In their haste to become a PR, many candidates often rush to apply for Singapore PR online once they fulfil the minimum requirement of working in the country for six months. While we understand the enthusiasm, the chances of rejection at this stage are practically guaranteed since you have yet to demonstrate your commitment and contribution to the country.
Rather than waste time and effort, it might work out better for you to delay your application while continuing to work in Singapore for a few years. Doing so is beneficial for you, as your profile will look more impressive, thereby increasing your chances of securing PR status.
Mistake #2: A lack of social contribution
As a multicultural society, Singapore has frequently prided itself on preserving harmony among the nation’s various races and religions. Anyone working and living in Singapore is expected to maintain this sense of togetherness, including expats. So while social integration is not explicitly stated as a PR requirement, applicants who can blend seamlessly into the community have an advantage over other candidates.
Unfortunately, not many applicants know this. As a result, they do not make significant social contributions or put in the effort to integrate with other Singaporeans. They may also unknowingly omit their contributions from their applications, leading to a rejection. So take steps to integrate yourself into the local community and ensure your efforts are well-documented.
Mistake #3: Omitting documents from the PR application
You may think you have all your bases covered after following the requirements listed on the ICA website to the letter. After all, the essential documents, such as your work permit, birth certificate, and employment letter, are present. However, the minimum document requirement requested by the ICA is not always sufficient.
You may have won a prestigious award or made a significant contribution at work that could boost your chances. But if you do not submit the relevant documents, the ICA will not know about them. Another thing to consider including is a professional cover letter. With thousands of PR applications yearly, you require something to set you apart from the rest of the other applicants.
Mistake #4: Providing incomplete information
It is not surprising if you miss out on any of the required fields during your PR application, given the myriad of information you must provide. However, such omissions will cost you dearly. So pay special attention to these fields and be thorough when filling out your paperwork. Always check and confirm that you did not miss any essential information.
Another omission made by many applicants is to leave their non-English documents untranslated. ICA will reject any untranslated document immediately, impacting the candidate’s application process. So ensure everything is translated into English before submission. And do not neglect to upload your documents according to ICA’s guidelines.
We do not fault you if you feel overwhelmed while browsing the various requirements and criteria for becoming a Singapore PR. You might even wonder if you should seek a PR application agency to help with your application. Well, if you are worried about rejection or unsure about the process, we definitely recommend doing so. In fact, you may find that having a professional consultant to guide you can improve your chances of getting approval and also understand the difference between applying yourself or engaging in professional help.
Benefit #1: In-depth profile review
The ICA assesses each candidate on a holistic basis. Unlike countries like Australia and Canada, there is no clear points-based system or scoring rubrics available. Therefore, it is challenging for you to pinpoint the area where you come up short.
Having assisted numerous candidates, an experienced consultant understands the PR requirements thoroughly. As such, they can perform an in-depth analysis of your profile and determine whether you will find success or receive a rejection for your PR application.
Benefit #2: Strengthen your profile
Based on the initial evaluation, your consultant can decide which PR scheme best fits your profile. If the outlook is not promising, they will recommend changes and improvements to make your profile better and more appealing to the immigration officer. This factor is especially helpful if you have faced rejection before and want to reapply again.
Benefit #3: Second pair of eyes to ensure your submission is error-free
Even the tiniest of errors can affect the outcome of your PR application. Worse, the ICA does not disclose the reason for your PR rejection, making it tough to know what went wrong. Fortunately, your PR consultant can function as a second pair of eyes, helping you check that all the details are filled in without errors. Having handled numerous cases, they are adept at spotting the typical mistakes made by applicants.
It can be disheartening to learn that your PR application is rejected after devoting time and effort to prepare for it. However, let us reassure you that there is no reason to beat yourself up over it, as over 50% of submissions are rejected yearly. Moreover, you still have two options available to you. Let us explore what you can do.
Option #1: File a PR appeal
ICA allows applicants to submit one appeal letter for their rejected Singapore PR application within six months of the refusal date. But it will not be easy to overturn the decision unless you have made significant improvements in your profile. Moreover, you only have one shot at this, so you must make it count.
We recommend consulting a PR application agency. A consultant can review your profile and evaluate whether an appeal is feasible. If the consultant believes it is worth appealing your case, they can share tips on how to craft an effective appeal letter and the correct PR appeal letter format with you.
Option #2: Reapply after a six months cooling period
Fortunately, there is no limit to the number of times you can apply to become a Singapore PR. So the next best option after facing a rejection may be to wait and reapply after a six months cooling period. This decision provides you with ample time to enhance your profile.
In fact, your situation may change significantly during these six months. Examples include getting a promotion or receiving a salary increment. Not to mention your duration of stay in Singapore increases. These factors may stand you in better stead when you reapply for PR.
So here is the crucial question to ask yourself, “Should you appeal your PR application or give yourself time to improve your profile before reapplying?”. The answer to this question depends on several factors.
Generally, the rule of thumb is to note the things or events that have changed since your previous application. Do any of these changes indicate that you have a vested interest in staying in Singapore long-term? If the answer is no, it is recommended to bid your time and improve your profile for future applications.
With that said, there is no guarantee that you will receive an approval even if your situation changes significantly within six months of receiving your PR rejection letter. Various appeal cases have been rejected because the candidate did not provide a substantial claim to warrant reconsideration.
Your best bet is to consult a PR application agency to assess your profile before deciding how to approach the situation. A PR specialist can evaluate your profile to determine the best option to undertake. They can also pinpoint specific areas of your application that need improving and provide tailored guidance and advice to bring out the best in your appeal or reapplication.
We hope what we shared has provided you with a better understanding of how to boost your chances of success. Nevertheless, we understand that some may still have several pressing questions about applying for PR. So allow us to compile the common queries we have received from previous applicants seeking our help. Hopefully, this can help clear any confusion about the PR application process.
Question #1: How long does it take to get my PR application approved?
The ICA receives thousands of PR applications yearly. As such, the organisation will require time to process and review your submission. Generally, you can expect to wait four to six months to receive your results from ICA. However, each applicant is unique. As such, the outcome of an individual’s application status may also take longer than the stated time period due to unforeseen circumstances. So you might have to wait patiently and check your mailbox regularly.
Question #2: What happens after my PR application is approved?
First of all, congratulations are in order! You will receive detailed instructions on the following steps to complete your PR application. You must make an appointment with the ICA within two months of the date stated on the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter. We recommend booking a slot early, as they fill up quickly. Furthermore, you can only schedule an appointment ten working days later.
You must also undergo a mandatory medical checkup at any licensed medical clinic in Singapore that offers PR medical checkups. Bring the IPA letter and the medical form attached for the medical examination. It usually takes around two weeks to receive the result of the checkup. Do not neglect to get your health insurance sorted out too, as all Singapore PR must register for insurance with MediShield Life.
On the day of your appointment, you must bring the physical documents stated in the approval letter to the ICA office. So ensure you have everything ready the day beforehand to avoid missing out on anything. Here is the list of documents for your handy reference:
There is a registration fee of S$50 for your NRIC, which you must pay during the appointment through NETS or a debit/credit card.
Question #3: What is the validity period of my PR status?
Please note that your PR status is only valid for five years. Afterwards, you must apply for a Re-Entry Permit (REP) to maintain your PR status and to continue leaving and entering the country. You will lose your PR status if you remain overseas during this period without a valid REP.
Your PR status will also be revoked automatically if your REP expires while you are away from Singapore. Fortunately, applying for your REP is a straightforward process. It can be done online via the electronic Re-Entry Permit (e-REP) system available through the ICA’s website.
We recommend that you carefully consider your options before applying for Singapore PR. You must demonstrate that you genuinely want to be part of Singapore society. If you are applying for the sake of it, your PR application will definitely be rejected. So work with an experienced PR application agency to review and spruce up your profile first. Before long, you will realise your dream of becoming a Singapore PR!
If you seek assistance with your Singapore PR application, look no further than Singapore Immigration Partners! We possess over eight years of immigration consulting experience, helping numerous individuals make Singapore their new home. So do not hesitate to contact us today to learn how we can help you.