Singapore Permanent Residency (PR) Guide: How to Apply?

11 min read|Last Updated: December 12, 2023|

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Singapore Permanent Residency (PR) applications used to be very lenient. In the year 2008, there was a high of 79,000 new PRs which raised concerns among Singaporeans. In turn, the Government listened, and immigration policies were tightened. A quick look at the trends:

  • Year 2000 with 9.9% average annual growth of PRs
  • Year 2010 with 1.5%
  • Year 2013 with –0.3%
  • To Year 2018 with –0.8%

The numbers agree, and we ask, “Why is Singapore PR so difficult to attain?”. We dive into it and analyse what future trends might be, and why starting a business in Singapore is now the best way to get a PR.

Here are the reasons why Singapore PR is difficult to attain:

1. Selective immigration policy of Singapore

PR is difficult to attain because Singapore has an obscure selective immigration policy. Compared to Australia who has a point-based system, your PR approval is completely up to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) discretion. While the ICA has application guidelines, they won’t justify their reasons for rejection.

2. Anti-foreigner sentiments among Singaporeans

PR is difficult to attain because anti-foreigner sentiments among Singaporeans in 2010 brought upon tightened immigration policies during the 2011 general election. Singaporeans fear having too many foreigners would result in feeling like strangers in their own land and job competition.

In 2013, The Population White Paper (PWP) was released by the Government. It sets out the key considerations and roadmap for Singapore’s population policies to address its demographic challenge. In which, the Government reveals they have significantly tightened PR approvals granted each year from a high of 79,000 new PRs in 2008 to about 30,000 each year and maintaining the current rate between 500,000 to 600,000. In addition, they stress on the importance of new residents to fit into the society.

3. An ageing population and overpopulation

PR is difficult to attain because Singapore was experiencing a high 2.5% population growth rate and 3.3% workforce growth rate which is not sustainable. To address these issues, the Government took steps to significantly slow down the rate of workforce growth from 3.3% per year to 1% per year by reducing the intake of PRs and tightening policies on foreign workers.

Current position on PR’s and immigration

Singapore is not closing off to foreigners. Rather, having stricter evaluation of your integration to society, potential contribution, and commitment to Singapore.

A speech by DPM Teo Chee Hean on the PWP at the Parliamentary Debate: “Singapore has historically been an immigrant society, …. We should continue to welcome immigrants who can contribute to Singapore, share our values and integrate into our society.”, where he solutions that younger immigrants will balance Singapore’s ageing population.

PM Lee Hsien Loong addressing the issue while Singapore deals with COVID-19: “Our population is small, it is not growing very fast. Soon it is going to level off. To grow our economy, we have no choice but to top up with foreign workers and work pass holders. …

Then for the upper levels, the Professionals, Management, Executives and Technical (PMETs) workers, we have the Employment Pass (EP). Here, the key issue is about controlling the quality, and making sure the people we bring in are those who are able to contribute to Singapore. So we have been using salary benchmarks as a proxy, along with other qualifying criteria.” to which he explains the tightening up of the EP qualifying salary criteria.

Eligibility Requirements & Schemes for Singapore PR Application

The following is a list of requirements for the different paths to applying for a PR status in Singapore.

1. Professional, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme

Any foreign individual working in Singapore on a work pass (excluding Work Permit) can apply for permanent residence. It can be done for the applicant, his/her spouse and any unmarried children below 21 yeas of age who were born in the context of a legal marriage or has been legally adopted.


  • Holds either an S Pass, Employment Pass, Personalized Employment Pass, or Entrepreneur Pass.

  • Provide at least 6 months of latest pay slips or relevant documents issued by the local employer.

2. Sponsored Scheme

A Singaporean Citizen or Permanent Resident (PR) is allowed to sponsor his/her spouse and any unmarried children below 21 years of age, born within the context of a legal marriage or legally adopted.


  • Provide an official marriage certificate.

  • Provide complete documents for the birth certificates od children showing both parent’s names and the child’s name.

  • If divorced, the divorce certificate and custody papers for the children must be provided.

3. Foreign Students Scheme (FSS)

Foreign students studying in Singapore can apply for permanent residence to ICA for consideration.


  • Must have resided in Singapore for over 2 years.

  • Passed at least one national exam or are in the Integrated Programmed (IP).

4. Foreign Artistic Talent (ForArts) Scheme

Outstanding international arts professionals with strong track records of local engagements can apply for permanent residence to the National Arts Council (NAC), and then the ICA for consideration after receiving approval from NAC.


  • Received relevant training/education and professional experience in the field of practice.

  • Had outstanding achievements in performing art, visual arts literary arts, design, or media.

  • Had significant contributions to Singapore’s arts and cultural scheme.

  • Have concrete plans to advance in Singapore’s arts and cultural sector.

5. Global Investor Program (GIP)

Eligible global entrepreneurs, business owners and investors who are interested in starting up a business, providing economic contribution or investing in Singapore can apply for permanent residence to Contact Singapore, a division of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), and subsequently ICA after receiving approval from EDB.

Singapore PR Application Procedure

1. Use your SingPass account to sign into ICA’s eService for Permanent Residence.

2. Select whether you are applying as:

  • An Employment Pass / S Pass holder
  • Singapore Citizen
  • Singapore Permanent Resident
  • Foreign Student

3. Select whether you are applying for:

  • Yourself
  • Your spouse or children
  • Your aged parents

4. You will be shown a list of forms and documents that you will need to download and complete and upload a copy into the portal.

5. Complete the Singapore PR application form by either:

  • Completing the PR application form online
  • Download and fill in the form, and re-upload it to the eService

6. Fill in all the other required fields on the online application tool.

7. Having uploaded the application form, you have 7 working days to upload all other required documents and submit a completed Singapore PR application.

8. Upload electronic/scanned files of all the required documents (you will need to provide a reason if you do not have any of the required documents)

9. Pay the Singapore PR application fee

For higher chance of success, you should engage a licensed PR agent to assist with your application.

Documents for Singapore PR Application

The following supporting documents are needed when you submit your Singapore Permanent Residence application:

For Applicant:

  • Copy of your ID
  • Copy of your immigration pass
  • Copies of the personal details pages of your passport
  • Change of name certificate or deed poll (if applicable)
  • Copies of your highest educational certificates (all tertiary certifications must be included)
  • Passport-sized digital photo (ensure it fulfills the Singapore photo requirements)
  • A signed declaration form (can be found on the eService)

For Spouses:

  • Official marriage certificate
  • Birth certificates of children or adoption papers (if applicable)
  • Custody papers of children from previous marriages (if applicable)
  • Death certificate or marriage certificate from a previous marriage (if applicable)

For Children:

  • A birth certificate or household census which states both parents’ names
  • Adoption papers (if applicable)
  • Custody papers (if applicable)

For foreign students applying for PR:

  • Copies of educational certificates
  • Copies of transcripts
  • Copy of vocational trade certificates
  • Copies of any professional license/membership certificates
  • Copies of your parents’ passports
  • Your birth certificate or an official household census showing your parents’ names.

Timeline for Singapore PR Application

A Singapore PR application will take 4 to 6 months to process. Some may take longer, depending on whether or not a person has provided all the required documents. Checking on the status of your application can be done via the eService.

Should the application be approved, you will receive a letter informing you of the outcome and how to proceed. An appointment can be made online to retrieve your new ID Card from Singapore’s Permanent Resident Services Centre.

Hard copies of the documents submitted online must be provided in-person and additional fees are required as well.


Profiles with the highest PR success rates

The future of PR applications is highly competitive. A rough estimation is that only less than 5,000 PR applicants are successful. Our advice is that if you are a PMET (holding EP, EntrePass or S Pass), consider taking time to improve your case before application.

Here are the roads with the highest success rates:

  • An investor part of the Global Investor Programme (GIP)

  • EntrePass as an investor setting up an investment vehicle in Singapore

  • Foreign entrepreneur running a business through an Employment Pass

We elaborate on the 3 roads in this article. All of the above are most likely to illustrate high qualifications and direct contribution through local business spending or paying of local salaried employees.

Insight into more successful cases

Another guide is to consider an invisible point system with the below factors. Every action should contribute to your integration to society, potential contribution, and commitment to Singapore.

  • Career, experience, or work pass
  • Education or specialisation
  • Length of stay or local family
  • Age or family profile
  • Investments or economic contribution
  • Others: Local community involvement, tax payment etc

A look into our insight (nothing agreed to by ICA, just our experiences):

  • Working in the government sector or you have a bond, may have a higher success rate.
  • Studying in local universities might give you an advantage, even over candidates from top tier overseas schools with well-paid salaries. This is under presumption that studying locally sinks your roots into Singapore.
  • Certain nationalities have unspoken quotas.
  • Your industry and position matters.

    A quantum physics researcher in deep technology is more likely to get a PR compared to a lawyer in corporate services.

    However, an owner of an accounting firm is more likely to get a PR compared to a marketing executive in deep technology.

  • Having family members or spouse in Singapore, you have increased chances.
  • Having male children, you have better chances since he will have to enlist for National Service.

Why is My Singapore PR Application Rejected

If your Singapore Permanent Residency (PR) application has been rejected, you should re-apply. Re-applying should not be taken lightly because if rejected again, your chances are lower. Not to mention the long waiting time you need to go through again.

There are 2 key reasons why your Singapore PR is rejected:

1. Rejection due to insufficient paperwork

Although the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) does not state any specific criteria related to approval or rejection, there are valid reasons as to why a Singapore PR application may have been rejected.

  • Missing information in online form submission

ICA uses online submission of forms. Once the system detects empty values, the application will be automatically rejected.

  • Mismatch of compulsory documents

For example, the system asks for a degree, but you have provided a professional certification.

2. Rejection because your case just isn’t compelling enough

Back to basics, ICA evaluates your integration to society, potential contribution, and commitment to Singapore.

As an EP holder, you would be in a strategic management level position at work, with a tertiary or degree qualification, pay taxes, and maybe you volunteer or are part of a society. What else?

Consider this: You are just 1 out of 177,100 (as of Dec 2020) employment pass holders in Singapore.

To stand out, our best suggestion is to directly invest in the economy and upgrade your work visa to a more “prestigious” EntrePass.

What to do after PR is rejected

It is best to wait for at least 6 months before you re-apply and use that time to improve your case: get a higher salary, obtain property, get involved in community work or invest in your education.

There’s no limit on how many times you can submit documents for Permanent Residency. Quite a lot of law-abiding and perfectly eligible candidates get rejected every year, so if you don’t get your PR status at the first attempt, don’t give up.

Our thoughts

Singapore is not as closed off as many think. We are just asking for more from our foreign applicants. If you fall under PMET, there is much you can do to improve your profile.

You need to be an active direct contributor in making the life of Singaporeans better, usually through running a business in Singapore and having direct business spendings or hiring local employees. There is already such negative sentiment on foreigners replacing Singaporeans or taking jobs away. Simply having a good high paying job won’t cut it anymore.

You should also learn to build a compelling case and market your strengths and value proposition. Get a service provider to draft your application because the insight into what ICA is looking for helps.


Come down to our office or get in touch virtually for an assessment to determine your best chance to live & work in Singapore today.


Is PR status the same as Citizenship?2020-06-17T15:15:44+08:00

Although there are similarities between the two, PR status is not the same as citizenship. This is true in both Singapore and other countries alike. 

Can PR status be revoked?2020-06-17T15:15:16+08:00

Despite its title of “permanent resident”, PR status in Singapore may be revoked. It may take place upon the PR holder’s request. The government may also forcibly revoke one’s PR status if the PR has committed certain severe violations. 

Does Everyone who has an Employment Pass automatically have PR status?2020-06-17T15:14:43+08:00

The Employment Pass is merely a work visa. It does not confer PR status upon its holder. Therefore, Employment Pass holders are not automatically PRs of Singapore.

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  1. Profile Picture For admin
    Sarah December 11, 2021 at 9:11 am - Reply

    I’m a Malaysian-Indian who currently working and stayed in Singapore around 2 years. I’m holding a S-pass. I have plan to study at a private university in Singapore as a part time student. Does that increase my chance to become a Singapore PR?

    • Profile Picture For admin
      Paul Hype Page December 21, 2021 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah,

      Based on our experience, we would advise you to get a student pass and then apply to work in Singapore via a work pass, while living in Singapore for at least 3 years for a higher chance of approval. Note that every approval is on a case-by-case basis by MOM and we cannot guarantee that this arrangement will be 100% approved.

      Best Regards,

  2. Profile Picture For admin
    Momo March 20, 2021 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this article!
    I am a EU citizen married to a Singapore citizen. We live together in Europe and plan to do so for the foreseeable future, but I would like to apply for PR as we are planning to come to SG for short-term employments in the future and it might help to enter the country during COVID as well.
    I recently graduated with a law degree but have no work experience yet. I did an internship in SG on a Work Pass before.
    Does it make sense to apply for PR from abroad now, or are the chances slim?

  3. Profile Picture For admin
    Rossa March 11, 2021 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Recently my PR application was rejected, what the next step should i do?
    Should i do appeal? if yes, how to do since it applied online?
    Or should i re-apply as new application?
    Your valuable advice highly appreciated. Thank you

  4. Profile Picture For admin
    Sangeeta January 20, 2021 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    My daughter has studied and lived in Singapore for 7 yrs. She has moved to Europe last year for masters degree.
    Can she applied for PR in Singapore now?
    Do you provide services for PR in Singapore?

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