Immigration is considered as one the more complicated areas within the legal niche. Thus, it is encouraged to seek professional opinion or help from lawyers and consultants in that field to assist on your case. Since every case is different, the type of visa status or adjustment that each individual would need depends on the situation of the person. In Singapore, the main body for immigration issues is Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), which is a member of the Home Team under the Ministry of Home Affairs. On top of administering immigration and registration services such as issuing Identity Cards (ICs) and passports as well as immigration passes and permits to foreigners, ICA is also responsible for securing Singapore’s borders from undesirable entry of both people and goods via land, sea or air. ICA has set several guidelines and criteria for each type of visa that can be used to gain entry into Singapore.

Singapore’s Pulling Factors for Immigrants

Our Little Red Dot has been in the spotlight on numerous occasions, whether good ones like best airport in the world for 3 years running or for not-so-good ones like the sentencing of Michael Fay. Since 1819, Singapore has always capitalised on its strategic geographical location. Fast forward almost 2 centuries later, Singapore has turned into a global business hub, constantly developing corporate policies and focusing on research & development (R&D) in several fields. With such levels of advanced technology, it comes as no surprise that it has such a world class infrastructure and transportation system. Moreover, having the highest rank amongst its neighbours in terms of political stability has caused many foreign talents to flock to Singapore to advance their career and even set up their own businesses.

Singapore has an exceptional ratio of Multinational Companies (MNCs), as well as Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which allow a diverse pool of talent to be tapped from these companies. With English as the main language, it gives an edge over their neighbouring countries, whose first language is normally dependant on their ethnicity. A study by Economist Intelligence Unit showed that Singapore has maintained their ranking as the most expensive city in the world for 4 years running. This is the result of its government putting a strong emphasis on economic growth and stringent criteria on regulations and contracts.

Currently, approximately one third of Singapore’s workforce is made up of foreigners but that is slowly changing given the political implications and rapid rising in the population density growth. Nevertheless, foreigners still prefer living here, whether alone or along with their family, because of the sense of security it provides. The enforcement of the strict laws has allowed Singapore to maintain a low crime rate. Littering is relatively low due to these laws, providing a clean and green environment. The geographical location is not only an economic advantage; it is environmentally protected by neighbouring countries from natural disasters as well.

Another pulling factor for choosing to work in or migrating to Singapore is its education system, which is on par with its western counterparts. Expats are spoilt for choice with the availability of many international schools. They need not worry about the lack of education for their children, given that Singapore’s education system has high standards and rated among the best in the world. Of course, all the luxury in the world will not be complete if one overlooks food. With a vast range of exotic culinary down to the local delights, even the fussiest of person will be easily tempted and feel satisfied.

Moving to Singapore

Whether you have decided to work or relocate to Singapore, there are several options that you may choose, depending on your eligibility criteria and the processing times for each depend on a multitude of factors. Below are some of the more common passes:

  1. Employment Pass (EP)

You may first start to incorporate a company in Singapore, which takes no more than 3 days on average, subjected to the approval of relevant authorities. Once approved, you may submit your application for the EP.

  1. Global Investor Programme (GIP) Scheme

The Global Investor Programme (GIP) was jointly administered by Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). It is actually a Permanent Residence Scheme to aid foreign investors and entrepreneurs who wish to attain Permanent Resident (PR) status in Singapore. The government basically assists to connect the company with local business networks and facilitate relevant collaborations.

Below is the eligibility and assessment criteria for the scheme. Do note of the financial capacity required to carry out one of the following options:

  • The applicant must Invest a minimum amount of S$2.5 million either directly in a Singapore company or in a GIP fund that invests in Singapore companies (Option A or B as explained below).
  • The applicant must have a minimum of three-year entrepreneurial and business track record and must provide the audited financial statements of his or her company for the last 3 years.
  • The applicant’s company must have a turnover of at least S$50 million in the year immediately preceding the application date and an average turnover of S$50 million per annum for the immediately preceding three years before the application date.
  • The applicant must have a minimum shareholding of 30% in his company if it is a privately-held company. Additionally, the applicant’s contribution towards the growth of the company will be taken into account.
  1. EntrePass

This work pass is intended for serial entrepreneurs, high-calibre innovators or experienced investors that want to operate a business in Singapore.

EntrePass is open to all nationalities. You can apply for an EntrePass if you:

  • Have started, or intend to start, a private limited company registered with ACRA.
  • If registered, the company must be less than 6 months old on the date you apply.
  • If not registered, you can do so after you know the outcome of your application.
  • Meet any of the following innovative criteria for application as an entrepreneur, innovator or investor.

– Has funding from a government-recognised VC or business angel
– Is an incubatee at a government-recognised incubator or accelerator
– Has business network and entrepreneurial track record

– Holds an intellectual property
– Has research collaboration with an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) or credible research institute in Singapore
– Has extraordinary achievements in key areas of expertise

– Has investment track record

The examples above are only a few types passes available to individuals. Aside from these, there are several other immigration issues that individuals may face relating to immigration law, such as obtaining Singapore Citizenship and Permanent Residence status, which will be discussed in other sections. If you have further queries, do not hesitate to contact our consultants.