While many expats are perfectly content with the options and possibilities the various work passes for Singapore offer them (see our article on work permits in Singapore for a detailed overview of the requirements and application processes), there is a large number of foreigners, particularly those who can see themselves making the Lion City their long-term home, who opt for permanent residency in Singapore.
There are a number of reasons why becoming a permanent resident, or PR for short, is often a good idea. Permanent residency in Singapore comes with a number of benefits that “regular” expatriates do not enjoy, for example lower charges at government-subsidized clinics, lower schooling fees for PR children, the possibility of buying public housing flats from the Housing Development Board, and participation in the Central Provident Fund (the social security system), to name a few.
The most interesting benefits of permanent residency in Singapore for expats include the heightened flexibility PRs enjoy on the job market in comparison to work pass holders, and being eligible to live and work in the city-state for at least five years.
In contrast to many other nations which require foreigners interested in becoming permanent residents to have spent a certain number of years working in the country, expats can apply for permanent residency in Singapore under the Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme (PTS) pretty much as soon as they acquire their P, Q, or S Work Pass. Investors and entrepreneurs are eligible as well, under the Global Investor Programme.
Submitting an application is of course not a guarantee for successfully gaining permanent residency in Singapore. Each application is considered on its own merit — looking for a Singaporean citizen or company to sponsor your application will not offer much in the way of help.
The application process is rather straightforward. All you have to do to apply for permanent residency in Singapore is to submit two sets of the completed application Form 4A (one original and one photocopy), along with a number of additional supporting documents. A list of these documents can be found in the explanatory notes to Form 4A. They include, among others:
There are a number of further requirements which apply if you want to include your spouse and children in your application (see below).
All of the above documents have to be presented in original and copy. If any of the documents are not in English, you are required to have them officially translated before you can hand them in. All your original documents will be returned to you after sighting. If you are not able to produce any of the required documents, you need to provide a written explanation for their absence.
The requirements for the application under the GIP scheme are very different from those of the PTS scheme. For more details on the GIP, including a general overview on the matter, please see the factsheet provided by Contact Singapore.
Note that you can only submit your application in person. Submissions by post will not be accepted by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority. To make an appointment to hand in your submission, you can use the online services offered on the ICA website. Your first step towards permanent residency in Singapore begins at:
Permanent Resident Services Centre
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority
ICA Building, 5th floor
10 Kallang Road
If you arrive by MRT, Lavender Station is your stop. Punctuality is highly valued here. Also, be sure to bring all required documents at the time of submission, as your application may otherwise be rejected at the counter.
If you decide to include your spouse or children under the age of 21 in your application for permanent residency in Singapore, keep in mind that your son(s) will most probably be liable for registration and enlistment in the National Service (NS). Registration is mandatory at the age of 16 ½, and enlistment will be scheduled for the earliest possible date after their 18th birthday.
If your child is studying full time, they may be allowed to first complete their studies under certain circumstances. Apart from this minimal flexibility, every permanent resident who is liable for NS is expected to complete it.
If you decide that permanent residency in Singapore is the most appropriate option for your expat adventure in Singapore, then you can also hand in your application to the Singaporean Mission in your country of origin. The requirements of the application remain the same. For example, you will still need the appropriate working pass — even if you do not actually make use of it — except for the application for permanent residency in Singapore.
Seeing how the matter of becoming a Singaporean citizen might be appealing to a fraction of the expatriate community, but is probably not a viable option for the vast majority of expats, we will not cover the topic in detail here.
If you should, however, decide that you would like to become a citizen of the city-state after all, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority is happy to help with any information you might need. As a general rule, you should have been a permanent resident of Singapore for at least two to six years prior to applying for naturalization.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.