Singapore Permanent Residence – PTS Scheme
Singapore is a world-class city to live, work and play. As the most open economy the globally connected cosmopolis has the best business environment. Singapore’s high standards of living in terms of low crime rate, quality housing, first-rate healthcare, clean and green environment and outstanding public transport and international connectivity will strongly appeal to any foreigner who had been in Singapore for a while. So it is no surprise that many foreigners who have been working in Singapore are keen on obtaining Permanent Resident (PR) status. This will enable them to stay in Singapore for an indefinite period of time and also enjoy some of the special privileges reserved only for the citizens.
The PR status renders a sense of stability to your immigration status and you will be free to pursue any employment or business of your interest in Singapore. Unlike work passes that shackle you to a specific employer, the PR status will lift the restrictions and empower you with numerous choices. Foreigners with PR status are entitled to Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution from their employers. Besides CPF, they can also have access to public housing and subsidized education and healthcare. Although not comparable to the citizens, the subsidies come in handy when compared to foreigners who do not have the PR status. The foreigners with PR status may eventually apply for a citizenship as well.
Generally the following people are eligible to apply for PR status:
- Spouse and unmarried children (below 21 years old) of a Singapore Citizen (SC)/ SingaporePermanent Resident (SPR)
- Aged Parents of a Singapore citizen
- Employment Pass/ S Pass holders
There are separate schemes available exclusively for foreign investors and foreing artistic talents. A large number of foreigners who are granted PR status every year fall under the Professional, Technical and Skilled Worker (PTS) scheme. If you are a foreigner, working in Singapore and interested in calling Singapore your second home by becoming a Permanent Resident, then following is a guide for obtaining a PR status in Singapore.
Professional Technical and Skilled (PTS) Worker Scheme
This is the most common and popular route to the coveted PR status. It is much more straightforward and simple than the other two schemes. A foreigner who is already working in Singapore under an Employment Pass or S Pass or running a business under an EntrePass is eligible to apply for a PR status. You may apply for a PR status for your entire family, that is, for your legally married spouse and children under 21 years of age.
Factors that influence the outcome of application
Profession/vocation: The nature of your employment, its economic value to Singapore affects the result of the application. You must be holding an Employment Pass, Personalized Employment Pass, S Pass or Entrepass. Your potential to remain gainfully employed will favor your application.
Education: Your educational qualifications and professional and technical certification pay a key role. If you have earned them from reputed academic institutions the chances of your application getting approved is improved.
Age: First and foremost the applicant must not be older than 50 years of age but exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the approving authority, will evaluate other factors such as your educational and professional qualification, experience and your economic value to the country among other factors and may allow your application even if you have crossed the age limit.
Period of Stay: One of the key documents that must be submitted along with the application is the pay slip for six consecutive months of your employment in Singapore. Thus technically you must have been employed in Singapore for a minimum of six months consecutively, in order to fulfill this requirement. However, it is generally considered too early to apply for PR and the probability of rejection remains high. Therefore not recommended. Your employer’s testimony also plays a role in the application, not many employers will be willing to endorse you when you have worked only for a short period with them. The longer your period of stay in Singapore better is your chances of approval.
Salary: Although there is no qualifying salary that has been expressly stated, you must draw a salary that is adequate to maintain yourself and your family well in Singapore. Your salary and overall financial status must be substantial to meet the cost of living in Singapore and provide comfortable living standards to your family.
Family Ties: Having family ties in Singapore reflects well on the applicant since their propensity to remain and positively contribute to the country is high. They may eventually apply to become citizens as well. Therefore having family ties in the country is a strong supporting factor.
Contribution to the Society: your voluntary services and donations in cash and kind also add to your credentials when you apply for PR. However such contributions must not be sporadic. Genuine and consistent efforts to contribute to the local community will be appropriately recognized and valued while evaluating your application.
Steps Involved In the Application
Download and Fill Up Application: Confirm your eligibility to apply for PR and review the application requirements. The application form Form A can be downloaded from Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) website. The application has an accompanying explanatory note and reading it will provide the much-needed clarity about the supporting documents that must be attached.
Fill in the application, providing accurate details and where appropriate provide additional details. For example, instead of merely stating the job title, additionally also indicate your key responsibility. For employment and education provide details in reverse chronological order, that is, starting from the latest progress to your earliest. If you are not able to support any of your claims such as education or employment then avoid mentioning them in the application. The application has an Annex section that must be filled up and endorsed by your employer. This is to confirm your period of employment, your salary and position with the employer.
Prior to applying you must decide if you wish to apply for PR for your family members, especially your male children because they are required to enlist for National Service, a compulsory military service which every citizen and Permanent Resident male are required to serve when they reach the age of 161/2 years. It is purely a subjective decision. Some parents do not like to send their male children to the NS for various reasons (health, education, religion etc) besides concerns regarding the demanding nature of the training involved. However some parents consider it a privilege and life enriching training for their male children. Details of all family members must be furnished in the application even if you are not applying for PR for that member.
Book Appointment: Appointment for the interview with the ICA officer must be booked simultaneously when you download the application. This will prevent undue delay in getting the appointment because the appointment date will be allotted depending on the number of applications the ICA has received. So if you are filing during a peak period your appointment date may be delayed. Typically it may take up to six months for the interview.
Prepare Documents: Get all the supporting documents for the information you have furnished in the application form. Documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, educational certificates, salary slips, testimony from previous employers, proof of registration with professional bodies, appointment/ promotion letter, commendation letters, resume etc. Make sure that all non-English documents are translated and certified by your respective embassy. Carry all original documents along with a copy of complete set of documents to furnish for verification at the time of interview. It is recommended to include a cover letter providing a synopsis of your educational, professional and personal background.
Submitting the Application: The completed application form including the section containing the employer endorsement along with copies of the supporting document must be submitted on the date of the PR interview. The officer will check if you have completed the application and have attached all requisite supporting document copies. The copies of the documents will also be checked against the originals. You will be issued an acknowledgement upon successfully submission.
Approval and Subsequent Action: The processing of the PR application takes a minimum of six months and may take up to twelve months. If you are anxious to know the status you may call up the ICA to check on the status.
If your application is successful you will receive a Letter of Approval. Within 2 months from the date of letter, visit ICA with the documents indicated in the letter to complete the formalities to formally secure your Singapore Permanent Resident status. The following items are generally needed at this point.
- The approval letter
- Travel documents of all the applicants
- 2 recent color passport-size photos of applicants
- Employment Pass Card and Dependent Pass Card Results of the medical check-up as specified in the approval letter. Generally it includes HIV test and TB Test). It is recommended to perform these tests in clinics that are specially accredited for the purpose or any other leading local hospital.
- Form EP 152 duly completed and signed by your employer confirming that you are still working in the same company as declared in the application form.
Upon successful submission of all documents and completing the formalities such as signing and finger print registration, you will be advised a date for collecting your National Registration Identity Card (NRIC). NRIC is very important document and you will be asked to produce this card during official transactions at government agencies and organizations such as hospital, banks, schools etc.
Upon approval and completion of formalities, besides the NRIC, you will also be issued a PR certificate, which is more of a customary document. Your passport will be stamped with a Re-Entry Permit (REP). This is typically valid for five years and can be renewed online, ensure that the REP’s validity does not lapse when you are outside Singapore. If you renew your travel document / passport, remember to link the new travel document/ passport with the reentry permit and this can be done online.
You must promptly inform your employer about your PR status so that you are included in the employer’s CPF contribution plan. You must also inform other relevant agencies such as banks, schools etc about your PR status so that the records are updated.
Rejection and Subsequent Action:
In case if your application is rejected, you can re-submit a fresh application after at least six months. If there is a significant change in your profile or information that can favorably affect your application, you may appeal to the ICA officer to reconsider your application. However it is highly unlikely that the outcome of a rejected application will change on appeal, unless the additional reason you provide and supporting documents you submit strongly promotes your case.
There is no ceiling on the number of times you can submit a PR application, therefore you need not feel dejected by the rejection. You can always retry after strengthening the credentials of your case. You may also seek professional help. Professional service providers can provide more insight on your limitations and may guide you to strengthen your application.