If you’re a prospective expat looking to move to Southeast Asia, Singapore is likely on your shortlist of landing spots. With a highly developed economy, first-world amenities, a large expat population, and low crime rate, Singapore is a jewel nation for those looking to live abroad in Asia.
While it is possible to move to Singapore and work solely on a work permit, known as the Employment Pass, the national government has created a program to attract highly valued foreign nationals to live and work abroad in the country on a long term basis. This Singapore Permanent Residence (PR) program allows qualified expats to live and work in the country for at least five years. The approved categories to enlist in this permanent residency program include:
- Employment Pass Holders under the Professional, Technical, and Skilled workers Scheme (PTS).
- Investors and entrepreneurs who fall under the Global Investor Program
- Spouse and/or unmarried, dependent children (under 21) of a Singapore citizen or permanent resident
- Dependent parents of a Singapore citizen
The purpose of introducing this program was to incentivize high net worth individuals to move to Singapore and inject capital into the national economy. If you are not a prospective investor or a spouse, parent, or child dependent of a Singapore citizen, you’ll need an Employment Pass to legally work and live in the country. This can be applied for after being hired by a Singapore company, but before you arrive in the country to start working. Expats holding this Employment Pass can apply for permanent residency after one year of living abroad and working in Singapore. Once permanent residence is obtained in Singapore, an Employment Pass is no longer needed to maintain working legality in the nation.
Permanent Residency Through Employment in Singapore
If the Employment Pass route is your preferred method of obtaining permanent residence in Singapore, you will have to meet a few requirements. You will have to prove that you are currently living (and have been for one year) and working in Singapore, and you will also have to show six months of pay stubs to validate that you have maintained your job for this minimum amount of time.
To apply for this permanent residency through employment, applicants must provide the following documents, in original form and in English:
- Completed application Form 4A
- Passport-sized photo
- Valid passport
- Employment Pass
- Income tax records for previous three years
- Payslips for prior six months in Singapore
- Birth certificate
- Any applicable degrees or diplomas
- Letter from employer stating nature of your work, duration of employment, and good standing in the company
Perks of Obtaining Permanent Residency in Singapore
There are a few very attractive benefits offered to expats who can secure permanent residency abroad in Singapore:
- Ability to live and work in Singapore for 5 years
- Priority over non-holder’s of permanent residency in the job market
- Lower costs at government-funded clinics
- Lower educational fees for resident children
- Option to purchase public housing
Permanent Residency Through Investment in Singapore
If you have the funds, you can bypass the requirements needed for permanent residency through the employment route and obtain residency through investment. The Global Investor Programme (GIP) in Singapore allows expats and their families to obtain permanent residency by either starting a business or investing in an established business in the country. Financial requirements include:
- Invest a minimum of $2.5 million SGD ($1.8 million USD) in a new business or expansion of an existing business in Singapore.
- Invest a minimum of $2.5 SGD ($1.8 million USD) in a Global Investor Programme-approved fund.
- Applicants are given 6 months to complete investment from time of permit approval.
- Unmarried dependents and spouses can achieve permanent residency after the applicant’s GIP has been received. Parents of the PR holder can be added to the residency program for an additional investment price of around $220k USD per parent
As the economic leader of Southeast Asia, Singapore has so much going for it as an expat destination. In addition to the residency options listed above, the Singapore government has also introduced a permanent residency program for Foreign Artistic Talent. Those with exceptional talent in the arts, photography, dance, literature, music, or film can apply for permanent residency abroad in Singapore. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate that they have made significant contributions to Singapore’s cultural scene (through active engagements into the arts sector) and must show a convincing or global following or presence.
Tyler Sorce is an American writer and digital nomad currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. In a past life he was a chef in Manhattan and Paris, follow his travels and favorite dishes on Instagram.