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Applying for Singapore Permanent Residency (PR)

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Andiamo, one of our forum members, has very kindly put together the following advice about applying for Singapore PR...

The ICA (Immigration and Checkpoint Authority) is an excellent resource for any PR applicant as it contains forms to download, checklists and FAQs on the process (www.ica.gov.sg). So here I will just focus on some of the areas that are not covered by the ICA.

Firstly, what is the point of becoming a PR? What are the advantages?

The most commonly stated advantages are:

  1. Changing Jobs. As a PR, no work permit is required. Also many job advertisements in Singapore contain the jovial little phrase: "Only Singaporeans and PRs need apply"
  2. Central Providence Fund. As a PR a monthly sum is paid into the CPF both from the employee and employer. CPF money goes towards pension, healthcare and can be used to pay a deposit when buying a property
  3. Land purchase. Land is in short supply in Singapore but PRs would find buying it a lot easier than non-PRs
  4. Buying government funded housing (HDB). There are many schemes with different eligibility, but two married PRs will qualify under some schemes
  5. Should you wish to become a Singapore citizen, PRs are normally eligible to apply after 2 years
  6. The are numerous other minor benefits that having a Singapore ID card brings, but I won't list them all here

The only disadvantage I am aware of is that if you were to have a male child, who was also PR, he would have to do national service in the Singapore army. (Should Singapore declare war on your home country, it is unclear which side your beleaguered son would have to fight on. Maybe both.)

General Points

Singapore has always recognized that it needs a certain amount of foreign skills and labour to build its glorious nation. Also, the Singapore government is very keen to increase its population and given Singaporeans' reluctance to reproduce, foreigners are again required to make up the numbers.

So Singapore is very open to well educated, skilled professionals. It is noticeably less welcoming towards pirates, drug addicts, revolutionaries and petty criminals. My first piece of advice is to ensure you fit into the former category mentioned above.

While Singapore is opening its arms to skilled professionals, it is also a nation addicted to quantifying, controlling, tracking and monitoring. So don't expect to get PR without submitting a small lorry load of supporting documentation.

Specific advice

  1. The first step is to book an appointment using the ICA website. You may have to wait several months to get an appointment so start the process early
  2. The form contains a section on work history. They will not accept a CV and any gaps in this history will be questioned. (The assumption being that if you were not gainfully employed, you were probably involved in piracy, drugs smuggling and plotting armed insurrections)
  3. Both I and my wife were asked for CVs from our parents and siblings. These are not scrutinised in detail and only have to be a rough account of education, work history, etc. It maybe as well to prepare for this request and get their CVs in advance to avoid delays
  4. If your supporting documents are not in English (or one of the other official languages), official translations will be required
  5. Your ID card will carry your race. Mixed race is not recognised by the ICA. Their argument is that your race is determined by your father's race. (Consequently my Thai-Chinese wife is down as Chinese)
  6. Once the application is submitted, the waiting time is normally around 3 months. (Mine took 5 months and there are many rumours about vastly varying waiting times)
  7. The ICA staff are polite and professional but keep in mind that their job is to tick boxes. So make sure you have all your documents in order and submit exactly what is required. No more no less. And don't waste time arguing with them

In conclusion, I would say that while its quite possible to live happily in Singapore without becoming a PR, for anyone planning to stay in the country for a while, its probably worth all the hassle.

But for me, the thing I like best about being a PR is whenever I come back to the country, the Immigration officer at the airport normally greets me with "Welcome home Sir".

See also: Permanent Residence Process in Singapore on the forum.

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