How to Move to Singapore and Apply for Permanent Residency

Singapore is a popular destination for people from all over the world to migrate in search of better work prospects. Every year, Singapore sees a huge influx of foreign talent, both skilled and semi-skilled. It is one of the most welcoming nations in the world. Irrespective of where one comes from or what they do, Singapore believes in treating everyone with the same fairness and provides equal work opportunities. All these reasons and many more attract a lot of foreigners to make Singapore their home permanently.

Why Move to Singapore?

There are many reasons why people choose to move to Singapore. Individuals, as well as MNCs and businesses pick Singapore to set up their base due to its strategic location, monetary benefits, and accessibility of global talent.

If you are wondering why you should move to Singapore, here are the top 5 reasons that will tempt you to say yes to the move.

1. Quality of life

Singapore is a developed country that offers its residents all the basic comforts and luxuries. You will find everything here from all the top-notch brands, the finest restaurants to fancy residential complexes, and malls. It is one of the well-developed countries in the world, as well as one of the safest. The crime rate in Singapore is significantly low. Great infrastructure, an outstanding education system, and world-class healthcare facilities make Singapore an even more attractive place to live. You are sure to enjoy a comfortable and quality lifestyle in Singapore.

2. Social, Economic & Political Stability

The population in Singapore is quite diverse and you will find people from many ethnic groups here. The best part is that they all respect each other and live in harmony.

Singapore also enjoys economic and political stability which lures foreign companies to invest more. Corruption and bureaucratic influence is almost nill with a strong judicial system.

3. Ease of Doing Business

Starting a new business or moving your existing business to Singapore is extremely simple and lucrative. The attractive corporate tax structure, ease of registering your business, international trade ties, and availability of qualified workforce, along with other perks and incentives helps business owners in running their business with ease.

4. Location

Singapore is very strategically located which makes accessing the rest of Asia very convenient. This is one of the major reasons why so many companies set up their headquarters in Singapore for the Asia Pacific region. For people who enjoy traveling to different places, Singapore serves as the perfect landing spot to explore Asia with great connectivity and many cheap flight options.

5. Multicultural

In Singapore, you will never feel homesick. The nation is multicultural in every aspect from food, language to art. You will surely find like-minded people and several recreational activities that you can indulge in your spare time.

Moving to Singapore as an Employee

How to Find a Job in Singapore

Demand for the workforce is constant in Singapore. There are plenty of job opportunities but applying for the right job for you is the key. Networking and referrals are the best way to bag a job. A lot of companies rely on recruitment agencies and head hunters to fill mid-level to senior-level job positions. There are more than 3500 recruitment agencies in Singapore. It’s advisable to register and make a profile with some of the major agencies such as Randstad, Robert Half, Adecco, Hays Recruitment, Ambition, Michael Page International, and Morgan McKinley to leverage their reach.

Another great way to look for jobs is on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. Facebook has a lot of groups that you can join where recruiters and employees will keep posting open positions in their companies. There are many job portals as well that allow you to view and apply for jobs from different industries and companies under one platform with just a click of a button. Some of the popular portals in Singapore are – Indeed, Glassdoor, JobsCentral, JobsDB, and Careers@Gov.

Types of Singapore Work Visa

After you find a job, the organization you will be working with will apply for a work visa for you.

There are 3 common work visas in Singapore:

i. Employment Pass (EP)

Employment pass is a work visa for professionals, executives, specialists, and managers earning at least $3900 per month for new graduates and have acceptable qualifications from recognized universities and colleges. Individuals with more experience are expected to have a higher fixed monthly salary. Companies do not require quota for EP and do not need to pay a foreign worker levy. The pass is generally issued for a duration of 2 years and can subsequently be renewed to up to 3 years.

ii. Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)

A personalized employment pass can be applied by an individual who has been working in Singapore on an EP and earning at least $12000 per month or working overseas and earning at least $18000 per month. This is a one-time pass that is valid for 3 years and once it expires the pass holder must get an EP or S pass to continue working in Singapore.

There is no foreign worker levy or quota for PEP. As the pass does not require sponsorship from the employer, the PEP pass holder can easily switch jobs without having his pass renewed. Another big advantage of holding a PEP is that the pass holder can continuously stay in Singapore for 6 months without having a job in hand.

iii. S Pass

S pass is for skilled and semi-skilled individuals holding mid-level positions in an organization. The pass is valid for 2 years and can subsequently be renewed.

For the organization to apply for an S pass for the individual, he/she should be earning at least $2400 per month and have relevant qualifications from accredited institutions. Companies have to maintain a quota of S pass holders in their organization and pay a monthly foreign worker levy for each S pass holder employed.

Moving to Singapore as a Business Owner

Registering and starting your own business in Singapore is not an uphill task. The process is fairly simple and the same for Singaporeans and foreigners. Anyone who is over 18 years and have no criminal record and never file for bankruptcy before can start a company in Singapore.

All companies in Singapore need to register their business online via Bizfile at the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to commence business. Once all the documents are submitted and the registration fee is paid, it can take as less as 15 minutes for approval. The registration will take between 14 days to 60 days in case the application needs to be referred to another government agency for approval.

Guide on How to Start a Business in Singapore as a Foreigner

Steps to starting a business in Singapore as a foreigner:

  1. Select a unique company name.
  2. Choose a business structure – Sole-Propriety, Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, or Company
  3. Have a local registered address for your company office.
  4. Make sure you have all your documents in place and a detailed business plan.
  5. Appoint a nominee director who is either a Singaporean, Permanent Resident or EntrePass holder if you are not relocating to Singapore or are already working in Singapore on an EP.
  6. Appoint a registered filing agent (e.g. law firm, accounting firm or a corporate secretarial firm) to register your company.

Applying for a Work Visa

If you plan to relocate to Singapore as a business owner, you need to have a work visa to work here. You can apply for the following visas:

i. EntrePass

An EntrePass can be applied if you have or plan to start a private limited company in Singapore that is registered with ACRA. The pass needs to be applied within 6 months from the time the company was registered.

To incorporate a company and apply for an EntrePass, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • act as an entrepreneur, innovator, or investor,
  • raise funding of at least $100,000 from a venture capitalist (VC) or business angel that is recognized by a Singapore Government agency,
  • you or your company holds an intellectual property (IP),
  • you have a good track record of investing in businesses, and
  • you need to have 30% or more shares in the company.

The pass is initially valid for 1 year and can subsequently be renewed for 2 years, provided that you meet the renewal criteria of meeting the minimum total annual business spending and employing a certain number of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents in your company.

ii. Employment Pass

If you have less than 30% of shares in the company, you can apply as an employee for an Employment Pass. You can apply for the EP any time after the company has been incorporated but you have to meet the minimum fixed monthly salary of $3900 per month.

If it has been more than 6 months since your company was incorporated, you can only apply for an EP and not an EntrePass. Another thing to note is that if you are already an EP holder, you can set up a company but cannot work there as an employee or a resident director. You can however, be a shareholder of that company.

Moving to Singapore as an Investor

The Singapore government has a program called The Global Investor Program (GIP) that was designed for all foreigners looking to move to Singapore as an investor. Through this program, the investors are offered Singapore Permanent Residency (PR) provided that they meet the criteria.

There are 3 investment options:

  • Option A: Invest $2.5 million in a new business entity or the expansion of an existing business operation.
  • Option B: Invest $2.5 million in a GIP fund that invests in Singapore-based companies.
  • Option C: Invest $2.5 million in a new or existing Singapore-based single-family office having Assets-Under-Management (AUM) of at least S$200 million.

Apart from the investment, investors must also meet other criteria to apply for PR under this program. For example, if you are an established business owner you would have to:

  • have at least 3 years of creditable track record as an entrepreneur,
  • have at least 30% shares of the company if the company is privately-held,
  • the existing company’s annual turnover is at least $200 million in the year immediately preceding your application, and
  • at least S$200 million per annum on average in the last three years.

The criteria are different for Next-Generation Business Owners, Founders of Fast-Growth Companies, and Family Office Principals.

Applying for Permanent Residency in Singapore

Who is Eligible to Apply for Permanent Residency in Singapore?

Singapore Permanent Residency (PR) is the first step towards gaining Singapore citizenship.

As a foreigner, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency if you are a:

  • Singapore citizen (SC)’s Spouse or Singapore permanent resident (PR)’s Spouse
  • Unmarried child aged below 21 years born within the context of legal marriage to, or have been legally adopted by, an SC or PR
  • Aged parent of an SC
  • Employment Pass or S Pass Holder
  • Student studying in Singapore
  • Foreign investor in Singapore

Apart from the above eligibility criterion, the Singapore government also looks into factors like charitable contributions, community work, skill sets, qualifications, age, family profile, and ties to Singapore citizens, length of stay in Singapore. The intent is to look for the right applicant who can positively contribute to the Singaporean society.

How to Apply for Permanent Residency in Singapore

All PR applications must be submitted via the Electronic Permanent Residence system (e-PR) using your valid SingPass account. If you are a student, you can access the e-PR system using your Foreign Identification Number and issuance date of your valid immigration pass.

In order to apply for PR, you need to submit the following documents:

  • Passport-sized digital color photograph of each applicant,
  • Employment Pass/S Pass/Work Pass,
  • Birth certificate,
  • Employer’s Information,
  • Salary details, and
  • Education proof.

All documents not in English must be translated by the embassy of the country that issued the document or by public notary or privately created translation attested by the embassy/public notary.

There is a $100 non-refundable processing fee for each applicant submitting the PR application. Payment can be made using VISA/Master/AMEX credits and debit cards. Upon successful submission of online application and payment, you will receive an email acknowledgment.

Based on the ICA website, the application takes 4 to 6 months of processing time if submitted with correct documentation. In certain cases, the application processing can take longer than that.

If the application is successful, there are additional fees associated, totaling to ~$100 for an Identity card, re-entry permit, etc. which are to be paid via NETS or CashCard.
You can check the status of your application online using your FIN and date of birth. The outcome of the application will be informed via post.

Please note that all male Singapore citizens and PRs are required to serve National Service (NS) after they turn 18 years old. If you are a foreign student who is granted a PR or are under your parent’s sponsorship, you are required to undergo NS. However, if you are granted PR under Profession/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme or Investor Scheme, you are exempted from the National Service requirement.

Can I Bring my Family Along with Me to Singapore?

If you are working in Singapore and hold an EP, S pass, PEP, or EntrePass, you can bring your family to Singapore on a Dependant pass (DP) or a Long term visit pass (LTVP).

Dependant Pass (DP)

Dependant Pass can be applied only by the employer or the authorized third party agency for legally married spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of an EP, PEP, or S pass holder.

The EP or S pass holders must earn more than $6000 per month to be eligible to bring their families to Singapore on a DP. The validity of the DP is connected with the main pass holder’s validity. People on EntrePass can also bring their spouse and children to Singapore on DP provided their total annual business spending is at least $100000 and they employ at least 3 full-time employees (LQS) or 1 local professional, manager, or executive (PME) in their company.

The dependant of an EP, PEP, and EntreePass can work in Singapore on a Letter of Consent (LOC) that needs to be applied by the employer and no foreign worker levy or quota is required. The dependant of an S pass holder can not work on a LOC and will have to apply for a work permit, S pass, or EP to work in Singapore.

Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP)

EP and S pass holders earning at least $6000 per month can bring their common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years old, and unmarried step-children under 21 years old to Singapore on an LTVP. If they earn at least $12000 per month they can also bring their parents to Singapore on this pass.

LTVP needs to be applied by the employer of the EP and S pass holder or by an authorized third party. EntrePass holders can get an LTVP for their parents, common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children, and unmarried step-children if their total annual business spending is at least $200000 and they employ at least 6 LQS or 2 local PMEs.

LTVP holders need a work pass to work in Singapore.

Need Advice?

Singapore’s Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) receives hundreds of work pass applications everyday and not all are approved. Due to the high competition, only the most qualified foreign individuals are approved to work and stay in Singapore. At HeySara, we can assist with your work pass application and increase your chance of success. Learn more about HeySara Work Pass Applications here.