Singapore - Foreigners and PRs: What's the Difference?


As one of the most developed and dynamic countries in the world, Singapore is an ideal location for most families looking to relocate to a new country and start life afresh. With few natural resources, the Singapore government and economy relies heavily on human capital and resources for its growth.

Permanent Residency in Singapore is highly sought after and opens up a vast amount of benefits to those who are able to apply and live here. If you're wondering if you're eligible for Singapore PR, you can visit our FAQ Page. Otherwise, the rest of this post explores more on the benefits that are given to a Permanent Resident of Singapore.

First, let's have a look at the restrictions of foreign individuals working in Singapore. A foreigner who wishes to work and stay in Singapore is required to hold a residential or work pass, which can be either one of the following:

  • Student Pass

  • Employment Pass (EP)

  • S Pass

  • Long-term Visit Pass (LTVP)

  • Dependent Pass (DP)

  • Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)

Without holding on to any of the passes above, a foreigner is considered a tourist and will only be allowed to stay in Singapore under a Social Visit Pass - which allows for a maximum stay of up to 30 days in Singapore, after which they will have to leave the country or risk being charged for immigration offences.

Foreigners who are working in Singapore are not entitled to resident benefits provided to its citizens and Permanent Residents, and are usually only protected by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), a government initiative to oversee and protect the interests and well-being of foreigners working in Singapore. A foreigner is not entitled to:

1) Medical Benefits - Foreigners are not covered under any medical subsidies or benefits and have to bear full costs of hospitalization if they are not protected under their company's group insurance or their own private insurance. Should a foreigner be hospitalized or require surgery, medical costs in a first-world country such as Singapore can potentially cost them their life savings.

Medical Subsidies for Foreigners in Singapore

Singapore Public Hospitals (% Subsidized)

Even if they decide to be repatriated to their home country for medical assistance, the cost of repatriation from Singapore starts from S$15,000 and can be as high as S$60,000.

2) Children's School Placement - Priority of enrollment into local primary, secondary, pre-university and undergraduate institutions in Singapore are provided to children who are Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents. Only when a school is not filled to its capacity will they accept non-residents of Singapore as students, and the luckier expat parents who are looking to apply for their children may receive placement in a school that is far away from their residential area.

Non-residents of Singapore may have no choice but to enroll their children into international schools which can heavily eat into their monthly wages. International schools in Singapore are known to be extremely expensive - the Global Indian International School, for instance, can cost up to S$1,500 per month for students in the first to twelfth grades, and the Overseas Family School (OFS) will set you back by over S$20,000 per semester (6 months).

3) Housing Benefits - There are no subsidies on the Additional Buyer Stamp Duties (ABSD) - also known as Stamp Duties or Property Tax - when a foreigner decide to purchase a house in Singapore. With soaring home prices, Singapore's real estate market is ideal for property investments and earning on capital gains on properties.

Stamp duty prices varies very differently for those who are residents and non-residents. Foreigners in Singapore are allowed to purchase property, but may experience difficulty in financing their home mortgage because banks in Singapore are more stringent on lending to non-residents. For a better idea on the price of owning a house in Singapore, here are details on Stamp Duties to citizens, PRs and Foreigners in Singapore:

Singapore Foreigner Additional Stamp Duties

When a foreigner converts to being a Permanent Resident of Singapore, they are able to enjoy a vast amount of benefits that are open to them and their families.

Apart from enjoying the subsidies detailed above, Permanent Residents of Singapore are also given priority to address their concerns in their constituencies, re-enter Singapore without having to queue up in the Foreign Passports queue at immigration checkpoints, and they can enjoy the benefits of medical coverage and savings through their Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions, which they can withdraw in full when they decide to renounce* their PR status.

They will also not be required to hold on to a permanent job or risk being asked to leave the country after 30 days, and they can sidestep foreigner hiring restrictions in companies in Singapore.

In a nutshell, a PR of Singapore can enjoy the following benefits:

Because Singapore Permanent Residency is highly sought-after by most looking to relocate, it can be difficult to apply for Permanent Residency. Statistics have shown that since 2010, a staggering 70% of applications are rejected due to strict assessment procedures.

Applying for Permanent Residency in Singapore does not mean that you have to give up your current passport, but rather you are able to enjoy the benefits of being a resident of Singapore.

The process to apply requires much more effort now than ever before, and the application process will become increasingly stricter as we approach the year 2030, where the Singapore government is hoping to reach a 6.9 million population in Singapore.

There are around 29,000 applicants who are approved as new Permanent Residents of Singapore each year, out of over 100,000 applicants who apply. Before applying, you should first ask yourself if you are planning to live in Singapore for the long term, and if Singapore is the right place for you and your family to live in.

To submit a well-prepared application for permanent residency in Singapore and sidestep the strict assessment process, you can enlist the help of immigration professionals who are able to guide and assist with your application to ensure your application is submitted in a correct and proper manner. You can also take an Eligibility Test prior to applying for Permanent Residency by filling up a quick form here.

We hope you have learned more about Singapore Permanent Residency through this post, and if you have any comments, be sure to leave them in the comment box below so we can reach out to you. You can also send us your questions that were not addressed in this post by using the contact box on the right of this page and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

*Permanent Residents who renounce or rescind their PR status will not be allowed to apply for Permanent Residency in Singapore in future. Before renouncing, it is important to thoroughly consider the full impact of doing so.


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