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Permanent Residence Scheme for Work Pass Holders

Posted by admin on September 19, 2021
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This is Part I of the step-by-step guide for Singapore Permanent Residence application filing for individuals holding an Employment Pass or Entrepreneur Pass in Singapore. Specifically, the scheme is known as Professionals/Technical Personnel & Skilled Worker Scheme (or simply “PTS scheme”) and is the most commonly used amongst the available PR schemes.

In order to apply for permanent residence (PR) under PTS scheme, you must be an Employment Pass holder. You should be under 50 years old, although exceptions can be made on a case by case basis. The PTS scheme allows you to include your spouse and unmarried children below 21 years old in your application. The procedure to acquire Singapore permanent residence (PR) through the PTS scheme is straightforward, though it requires research, leg-work and attention to detail.

The following step-by-step guide will help you to tackle the Singapore PR application process with ease and confidence.

Step 1: Decide when to apply for PR

The first question that typically comes to the mind of the majority of work pass holders is "when can I apply for my Singapore PR"? Theoretically, you can make the application the day you start working in the country as an Employment Pass (EP) holder. However, one of the application requirements is to provide six months’ of payslips from your Singapore employer. This also  means that you should wait at least six months from the day you start work to apply for your PR.

Realistically, how soon you can apply for PR status also depends on the type of employment pass you are holding and the unofficial annual quota set by the government.

Also, do make sure you are in good terms with your employer at the time of submitting your PR application. The application form contains a section that is to be completed by the employer.

Step 2: Think about your chances of approval

Besides the type of employment pass you hold and how long you have been working in Singapore, there are other factors that are also taken into consideration by the authorities when reviewing your PR application. These include:

  • Your education background. Singapore authorities give a lot of weight to your degree and the institute from where you graduated.
  • Your physical stay in Singapore. The longer your physical stay in Singapore, the more the authorities are convinced that you plan to reside in Singapore permanently.
  • Your employment background and stability of your job
  • Credentials of your employer (the more established the company, the better)
  • Your salary and financial well-being
  • Your character (such as whether or not you are a law-abiding citizen)
  • Your family ties in Singapore. If you have family ties here, it is considered a positive factor.
  • Your charitable contributions to society such as volunteering, donations, etc.

Bottom line: The government wants to ensure that you are a law-abiding resident and that you will not become a burden on Singapore if you are granted a PR status. They want you to be an asset to the country.

Step 3: Decide on PR filing for your children

If you are married and have children, one of the important decisions you have to make is whether you want to apply for PR for your son(s).

As per Singapore laws, the main applicant (i.e. you) who is granted Singapore PR under the first generation PTS scheme is exempted from the compulsory military service. However, all healthy males that are granted PR status through their parents, must register for national military service when they reach the age of 16½ years old. They will be required to serve 2 years of full-time National Service followed by 40 days of Operationally Ready National Service per year until the age of 50 (for officers) or 40 years old (for other ranks).

Different parents view the National Service obligation differently. Some parents don’t mind it, thinking that the child will be stronger and more mature after the two years in service. Others are horrified at the thought of having their child go through any kind of military service. You will need to think carefully based on your own standpoint and decide accordingly, before you make any PR applications for your son(s).

Step 4: Download documents and review filing requirements

Once your eligibility is established and you have decided to proceed with PR application filing, the next step is to obtain the PR application forms and review submission requirements.

For your convenience, you can apply online by clicking here.  Specifically, download the two forms titled Form 4A and Accompanying Notes to Form 4A listed under PTS scheme.

Form 4A document consists of two parts: PR Application Form and Annex A. The first part (PR Application Form) is to be completed by you. It asks for yours and your family’s details, covering basic information as well as educational and professional history. The second part (Annex A) is for your employer, who must explain the nature of their business and confirm your employment and salary details. Your employer is not considered to be sponsoring your application. Later sections of this article will provide guidelines on completing the form.

The second document contains explanatory notes on Form 4A and this is the document you need to pay attention to first. Read this document and get ready to prepare the supporting documents as explained in the next section.

Step 5: Prepare supporting documents

The first order of business after you have downloaded and read the necessary documents is to submit the application online. You will need to start compiling the supporting documents. The list of supporting documents required is provided in the explanatory notes and documents list in Form 4A. Here are some additional helpful guidelines that you should take into account:

  • For each supporting document, make a scanned copy and keep the original handy as well. At the time of submitting the PR application online, you will be required to upload the scanned copies.
  • If you have any document that’s not in English, you must produce an official English translation of the document. The safest approach is to get it translated and stamped through your embassy. Make sure to scan the originals of both non-English and English translated versions of the document.
  • Previous employment appointment letters, performance evaluation reports, recommendation letters are useful. Contact your previous employer(s) if necessary.
  • If you have purchased a property in Singapore, include the documents that provide the necessary proof. This will be considered a positive factor both in terms of your financial position as well as your longer-term intention of staying in Singapore.
  • Make sure you also attach the most recent copy of your CV/Resume.
  • It is also a good idea to prepare a cover letter wherein you can articulate your love for Singapore, your financial and family stability, your decision to become Singapore PR, and a list of the supporting documents you are attaching with the application.

Bottom line: Singapore is big on paperwork and the accuracy of it. The more you provide the better. Once you have prepared copies and originals of all the required documents and you have taken into consideration the additional guidelines listed above, you are ready for the next step, i.e. filling out the PR application form.

Step 6: Completing the PR application form

The PR application form is not a complicated form to complete. Some helpful guidelines listed below should make it even easier:

  • Write down your education and employment history in chronological order.
  • In the education qualifications section, list out your high school diploma and anything higher. You do not need to list educational details prior to high school.
  • If you cannot produce an appropriate certificate for a degree or diploma education that you have completed, don’t list it. Otherwise, it might create unnecessary delays where authorities might send you a letter saying that you need to produce the necessary document for verification purpose in order to further process your application.
  • The details of your spouse and children would also be completed in the same PR application form. Even if you are not applying for PR for any of your family members (spouse or children), you will still need to provide their details in the application. For each of the family members, there is a field where you will indicate whether or not you are applying for PR for this family member.
  • Ask your employer to complete the Annex A (i.e. the last page of the PR application form titled “Annex A to Form 4A (Application for Permanent Residence)”). Completion of this form is to serve as confirmation that the information provided is accurate and valid and it does not imply Company’s Sponsorship.

Although the form states that it will take you approximately 30 minutes to complete, in reality, you will probably end up spending a few hours to complete the PR application form. The next part of this guide (Part II) will describe the actual submission procedure for the application as well as what to do once your PR application is approved or rejected.

Step 7: Submit PR application

Ensure that you have (a) completed the PR application form; (b) received the completed Annex A back from your employer; and (c) prepared the supporting documents. You will need to submit your PR application and supporting documents online and ensure that all the forms and documents are up-to-date as of the date of the online submission.

It is a simple procedure of submitting your PR application along with the necessary documents to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) via online submission.

Step 8: Wait for results

Once you have submitted your PR application, the most anxious time begins – waiting for the application outcome. The more you think about it, the more restless you will be and it will make no difference to the outcome. So sit back and relax.

It can take approximately 6-12 months before you receive a letter from ICA notifying you on the outcome of your PR application. Their processing time may be longer or faster and varies quite extensively. This is solely at the discretion of the ICA. If you do not receive the letter after 6 months and are anxious to know the status, you can call ICA and they will inform you of the current status of your PR application. Most of the time, you will end up hearing “it’s under processing”, unless it has been approved or rejected. You will not be provided with any other explanations or reasons. In reality, the operator answering your phone probably does not know the details anyway; all he or she can see on the computer system is just the status of the application.

Step 9: Upon Approval

If your application has been approved, congratulations! An approval letter will be sent to you and upon receipt, you will need to make a visit to ICA's office within 2 months to complete the formalities. You will need to make an appointment and visit the 5th floor of the ICA building to complete your PR formalities. You can access ICA’s website to make this appointment electronically. The officer will collect all your documents from you and finish the necessary formalities (signing, fingerprinting, etc.). The approval letter will specify the list of documents to be submitted, and you should read the list carefully before making your trip. Typically, the following documents would be required:

  • Approval letter
  • Travel documents for yourself and your family (if they were included in the PR application)
  • 2 recent colour passport-size photos for yourself and your family (if they were included)
  • Your EP and your family’s DPs
  • Results of the medical check-up which you (and your family) will be required to do, as specified in the approval letter. Typically, this will involve an HIV blood test and chest x-ray. The approval letter will provide a format for the medical report, which should not be issued more than 3 months before the time of submission to ICA.
  • Form EP 152, which needs to be completed and signed by your employer. The purpose of the EP 152 is to confirm that you are still working in the same company as declared in the application form.
  • Payment for the identity card registration, re-entry permit and entry permit. The specific amounts would be specified in the approval letter. Payment modes are via NETS or Cashcard only.

The officer will advise you on the date of collection for your identity card (commonly known as National Registration Identity Card, or “NRIC”). You will need to make another appointment to collect this

At the end of all the formalities, you should have the following items:

  • NRIC for you (and your family). This is the card that you will often be required to produce (e.g. when applying for mobile phone, bank account, etc.) in Singapore as a proof that you are a Singapore PR holder. Note that children don’t get an NRIC until they turn 15.
  • Each PR applicant will get a PR certificate (mostly for safekeeping, you won’t really use it anywhere)
  • Each PR applicant will get a re-entry permit stamp in the passport. The re-entry permit enables you to get in and out of Singapore visa free. The re-entry permit is typically issued for five years at a time and is renewable thereafter. If you plan to leave Singapore, make sure that your re-entry permit is valid until your return.

Once you have completed the above PR formalities, you are a full-fledged Singapore permanent resident. With your new status, you can enjoy many of the benefits given to full citizens, including the freedom to live and work in Singapore without visa restrictions, priority government schooling for your children and compulsory participation in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Scheme, which grows your pension fund. Don’t forget to:

  • Inform your employer of your new PR status. Your employer will require a copy of your NRIC to update HR records and will also need to start making contributions to your CPF fund.
  • Inform banks so they can update your bank account personal details.

Step 10: Handling PR Rejection

Although receiving a PR rejection letter can be a very disheartening experience, remember that it’s not end of the world or the end of your pursuit to obtain permanent residence in Singapore. There are no limitations on how many times you can apply for Singapore PR. However, realistically, you should wait at least 6 months before re-submitting your PR application. This is because, in case you are rejected, it is unlikely that your re-application will be approved unless there is a notable change in your circumstances (e.g. higher salary, obtaining new qualifications, etc.). It would be wasted effort to re-apply without such significant changes that would improve and strengthen your application considerably.

Professional Help

Should you engage a professional firm to assist you with your Singapore PR application filing? It depends on your needs. If you feel that you know what you are doing, you can probably go without. But most times, having an experienced set of eyes to review your application and supporting documents, and giving you recommendations to maximise your chances of success could be beneficial for your application.

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