For high net worth foreign investors looking to obtain a “Golden Visa” (permanent residency/citizenship through investment) in Southeast Asia, Singapore should be at the top of your list. Singapore’s investment visa, the Global Investor Programme (GIP), allows expat investors to receive immediate permanent residency in the country.
Singapore is a highly-sought expat destination because of its high quality of life, great weather, low crime rate, strong economic sector, and desirable tax policies.
Details of the GIP
- Expats must choose an approved sector for investment. This can be venture capital funds, an existing company in Singapore, or a new company in fields including alternative energy, electronics, healthcare, aerospace engineering, education, media and entertainment, nanotechnology, natural resources, and space.
- Minimum starting investment is $2.5 million SGD ($1.85 million USD). 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.
Application Process and Requirements
If starting a business is your investment method of choice in Singapore, there is a certain process you must undergo in order to qualify. After submitting the initial GIP application, you will need to present a 5-year business plan of financial projections and meet these projections within your first five years of investment.
If, instead, you want to invest in an existing company in Singapore, the applicant will need to prove the following:
- There was a positive track record in the applicant’s business, based on audited accounts from the previous three-year period.
- There was company turnover of at least $50 million SGD ($36.8 million USD) in the previous year before application, and an average of at least $50 million SGD per year for the previous three years.
- Applicant owns a minimum of 30% in shares if the company is privately owned.
Renewing Permanent Residence
Once you have obtained permanent residency through the Global Investor Programme in Singapore, it is good for five years. There are a few options to choose from as far as maintaining the visa from there. If you would like to renew the PR for a three-year period, you will have to show that either you or a dependent family member was living in Singapore for at least 2.5 of the preceding 5 years.
If you want to circumvent the in-country requirement, the type of investment you make in Singapore will need to be a new business that employs at least five local citizens and incurs at least $740k USD in annual spending.
Citizenship in Singapore
If you successfully maintain your permanent residency in Singapore for a minimum of two years, you can apply for Singaporean citizenship. While this may be a desirable option for some, most expat investors in Singapore choose to simply maintain their permanent residency indefinitely. The reason for this is that Singapore is a single-citizenship country, meaning foreign investors will have to renounce their home citizenship to obtain a Singaporean passport.
Useful Data for Foreign Investors in Singapore
Singapore’s economy operates in a very highly-developed free market. In fact, the country’s economy was ranked as the most pro-business and the 7th least corrupt. Combine this with very desirable tax policies and the third-highest GDP in the world, and it’s clear why so many foreign nationals are choosing to invest abroad in Singapore.
Official Languages: English, Malay, Huayu Mandarin, Tamil
Ethnic Groups: Chinese (74.3%), Malay (13.3%), Indian (9.1%), Other (3.3%)
Government Type: Unitary Dominant-Party Parliamentary Republic
GDP (nominal): $311.282 billion (total), $55,252 (per capita)
GDP (PPP): $508.449 billion (total), $90,724 (per capita)
Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD), equal to $0.735 USD
Labor Force: 3.66 million
Main Industries: electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber, food and beverages, ship repair, offshore construction, life sciences, entrepot trade
Exports: machinery and equipment, electronics and telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and refined petroleum products
Imports: machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs, consumer goods
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.
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