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Singapore Permanent Residence Benefits & Drawbacks

Obtaining Singapore permanent residence lets you enjoy many of the benefits and rights given to full citizens but it also comes with certain obligations that you should keep in mind.

As a permanent resident (PR) of Singapore, you and your family are free to live, work and buy property in the country and be a part of Singapore society. You are eligible for a range of perks such as the freedom to travel in and out of the country and priority entry to Singapore’s public education system for your children. In the workplace, your employer is required to make monthly contributions to a compulsory pension scheme, and you would not need to acquire new working visas every time you change your job.

Whilst you are given many rights as a Singapore PR, the government also has rights upon you. One of them is the military service (commonly referred to as national service, or “NS”), which is compulsory on your sons (if they are also PRs) once they reach 18.

Thousands apply for Singapore permanent residence

There are estimated to be about 524,600 PRs in Singapore within a population of 5.3 million people, and the numbers are increasing (accurate for 2016).

A Singapore PR application takes approximately 6-12 months to process and is intended for those under 50 years old who had been living and working in Singapore for at least six months. For more information on various PR schemes, see Singapore PR Schemes.

Preference is given to those who can contribute to Singapore’s society and economy in terms of work experience, qualifications, professional skills and income potential.

PR benefits and obligations

Those who succeed in their PR application can enjoy a range of benefits that comes with the PR status. The main advantage is the entitlement to stay in Singapore without visa restrictions. Once you obtain your Blue Card (which is the identity document given to you once you receive your permanent residence status), you have the right to live in Singapore and you can leave and enter the country as you wish.

PR status for spouse and unmarried children

As a Singapore PR, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 are also eligible for similar status while your foreign parents are able to receive long-stay visas. If your children are school-aged, they are high on the priority list, behind citizens, to enter public schools of your own choosing. Non PRs are at the bottom of the list and are often left with no choice when it comes to schools.

Choice of changing jobs

Permanent residence in Singapore also enables you to change jobs freely without having to worry about re-applying for a work permit. Employment pass holders must cancel their working visas if they want to change jobs, which involves inherent risks such as having your new EP application rejected or delayed, forcing you to leave Singapore. Permanent residence removes those risks and hassles.

CPF Scheme

Singapore PRs who have jobs are also obliged to join the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme, in which you and your employer contribute a monthly minimum amount to your pension fund. The CPF scheme helps you out financially when it comes to health care, home-ownership, family protection and growing your assets. By deducting your contribution from your salary, you are able to enjoy a form of tax relief.

Singapore property loans

Another financial benefit of being a Singapore PR is that it is easier to borrow various loans such as a housing loan if you want to buy property.

When buying property, permanent residents are only allowed to buy second-hand units of government HDB flats while only citizens can purchase new ones.

Potential for Singapore citizenship

Permanent residence also opens the door to Singapore citizenship, should you wish to acquire Singapore nationality at some time in the future. It may take a few years before you can apply for citizenship, but it is the only path to obtaining a Singapore passport (apart from being born to a citizen).

Singapore Enlistment Act

One aspect of Singapore permanent residence that concerns many foreigners who have young sons is the national service. Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore citizens and permanent residents are liable to register for national service upon reaching 16½ years old. They must serve two years when they turn 18. This is followed by 40 days of Operationally Ready National Service every year until they turn 50, for officers, and 40 for other ranks.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, the advantages of being Singapore PR have convinced thousands of expatriates to apply every year. With Singapore encouraging the arrival of professionals and those who can contribute to the country’s welfare, the PR population will continue its steady growth and more foreigners will be able to enjoy the extra benefits and new-found rights they receive as permanent residents of Singapore.

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