Permanent resident in Singapore

If it’s been several months or years that you live in Singapore and wish to settle in for good, you will need to get the much sought-after permanent resident status (PR), coveted by many expatriates in Singapore. This status will replace your current EP or DP and comes with many benefits and commitment, listed down below. However it is hard to become a permanent resident of Singapore. Here is our advice to increase your chance of approval in your PR application.

Why be a permanent resident in Singapore

Most of the expatriates living or working in Singapore have an EP (employment pass) or DP (dependent pass for relatives) but this visa has quite a lot of drawbacks: you don’t benefit from the local welfare system, you need to apply for a new EP every time you change your job (and may not get it), the renewal process of your visa is quite slow and you will have 30 days to leave the country if you loose your job, since your EP is linked to your job. This is why many expatriates take a chance on getting the status of permanent resident in Singapore.

Advantages and duties

As a permanent resident (PR) in Singapore you will enjoy some of the benefits reserved to Singaporean citizens.

Please note that this status is a first step towards the Singaporean citizenship but doesn’t make you a citizen of Singapore! You will keep your citizenship.

Here are all the benefits granted by the PR status:

  • You have an easier access to housing: you can buy houses and resold HDB, which are usually reserved to Singaporean citizens.
  • You contribute to the Central Provident Fund, a compulsory saving account, which helps to you pay your medical expenses, your retirement or housing. It amounts to 20% of your salary.
  • PR tend to find a job more easily than EP holders and have access to many more positions
  • It is easier to set up your own company
  • You children have priority access over DP holders’ children to public schools.
  • Your relatives may benefit from a long-term visit pass when coming to Singapore (this is useful when you need to support your family)
  • You are eligible to subsidised prices in public hospitals and a part of your medical expenses are covered by Medisave.

However this status comes also with duties and drawbacks:

  • Your son(s) will be liable for National Service, which is compulsory, between 18 and 20 years old. In case of draft-evasion, your family members will never be able to work again in Singapore and their permanent resident is automatically repealed. To avoid doing so, many expatriates opt for a long-term visit pass or a student pass for their children instead of including them in the PR application. Note that this will decrease your chances of getting a positive answer to your application.
  • You cannot vote (you are not a citizen of Singapore).
  • You do not benefit from government subsidies.
  • You are not fully covered by Medisave, as you might be in your home country, thanks to social security. It is then essential to top-up your health cover in order to get your medical expenses reimbursed.

Procedure

Applying for a permanent resident status in Singapore is a long and tedious process. First, you have to make an online appointment at the ICA but do not expect to get one within a couple of months. Then download the application form and fill it carefully. Your employer will also fill one part. You have to gather all the documents required, translate them if necessary and copy them. Then you will give the form and documents to the ICA during your appointment. Make sure you didn’t miss anything. It is likely that the ICA calls you back for a second appointment in order to add or modify some information. An answer to your application will be given to you 4 to 8 months later. Meanwhile you can follow the application status online.
If you get a positive answer, you will have to make a new appointment at the ICA and obtain your Blue card.
If the answer is negative, you will not get any precisions and it is useless to ask the ICA why your application has been rejected. However you can apply a second time but have to undertake the whole procedure again.

How can I get a positive answer for my PR application ?

It is hard to know why an application for a permanent resident status is accepted or rejected since the ICA never justifies its answer. There are however some “tricks” to tip the scales in your favour.

First of all, make sure you meet the eligibility criteria when applying for a PR status in Singapore (non exhaustive list):

  • Be less than 50 years old
  • Be a EP or SP holder
  • Have worked in Singapore for at least 6 months
  • Or be the spouse or children of a PR
  • Or be an investor

Then take great care of your application file: write as clear as possible, in capital letters and make no mistakes. Don’t forget to mention all of your degrees, academic or professional rewards, cultural activities or volunteering for a Singaporean association. Your qualifications, skills and professional experience are very favourable. Describe your tasks, responsibilities and what you achieved. You can also join a cover letter to your application file but remember to stay humble; you don’t want to annoy your reader. Good luck!

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Date of publication Mar 10 2016