The Singapore PR Conundrum

Recently a friend’s application to have his Singapore PR renewed got rejected. His application was rejected on the grounds that as he has left the country to work in Malaysia, he would have failed the precondition for being a PR in the first place under the “Technical” Scheme (PTS), which require him to stay employed in Singapore or by a Singaporean entity.

Here’s a comprehensive page about what I’m talking about: (I would venture to say that the rest of this website is really counting beans, but hey, that’s what most people do)

Maybe I’m just ignorant, but this is the first time I learn about the 4 “schemes” of being a SPR. To be a SPR, you have to either be “technical” (and employed), “smart” (and have a PhD), “entrepreneurial” (and invest money here), or “artistic” (and be recognized). Too bad for those who don’t fall in these categories… To be fair, the PTS scheme is fairly broad and covers most jobs, but it requires one to continue to stay employed here. This is, to me, a contradiction to the word “permanent” – what if the guy is just gone for a few years abroad?

There are lots of implications of having your PR taken away. You might have relied on your PR status to secure a HDB flat, get your children to school, keep money in banks here, etc. It’s a legal status that shouldn’t restrict your freedom. And just because you decided to take up a job in JB, or become less recognized in your artistic genius, or pulled out some of your investment in your firm such that the total drop to below $1 million, or suddenly you found out that your PhD is a fake, your other commitment in your life might be affected. Add to that the fact you’re only under 1 of the 4 schemes and probably can’t jump from one to another easily.

Maybe I’m thinking too far ahead here, I mean, I understand why policies are created in such chunky manner and administrated always on a case-by-case basis. But what I don’t understand is why a PR status should be taken away from you, unless you did something bad, you know, against the law and stuff. Yes, PR is an entitlement, but it is a requirement no less, even a source of embarrassment when it’s taken away. Why embarrass the very “foreign talent” that the country try so hard to bring in in the first place?

Anyway, so back to this friend, who although is not a Stanford PhD (as quoted in the article would land him with a Landed PR status), he’s a Stanford masters no less. Or look at this another way, take an arbitrary person X, who sort of meet all criteria, except he doesn’t meet any: (i) he worked in S’pore before, and intend to work here in the future, just that he took up a 2 year stint while the PR is due for renew; (ii) he actually runs a Singapore based company, small freelancer shop that requires little to no investment but a business that generates, say, $50,000 annually, and pay taxes for it; (iii) he might have, say, masters degrees or might have started his PhD program without completing it; (iv) he might actually be artistic, say a musician, playing semi-professionally with the pros in town, but not exactly famous for being one. Does reaching 1/4 of the goal for all 4 schemes qualify him for his PR renewal?

And to think that after hearing all those Singaporeans who’s looking at migrating to Australia, that Australia PR having a minimum residency is weird…

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18 Responses

  1. I thought the renewal process is to renew the long term entry permit for PRs and not the PR status itself.

    Cos I am under the impression that when you get accorded the PR status, it stays with you for life!
    It is the entry permit that needs to be renews ever few years.

    Please, do enlighten me on this.

  2. yah that was my impression too. i thought you would be able to enlighten me 🙂

  3. The friend is so kind to share this email from ICA. Slightly ungrammatical, but should answer the question (although in a very vague form). He kept his IC though…

    Dear Sir

    Please refer to your email. You application has been rejected due to you are not gainfully employed in Singapore.

    2 Please be advised that for renewal of Re-Entry Permit (REP), if you had acquired your SPR status through employment under the “Professionals / Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS)” scheme, you will need to show proof of your employment in Singapore and your salary must be paid by a Singapore-registered Company too upon

    3 In the event that you are not working in Singapore when the REP expires and still remains outside Singapore without a valid REP, you would have lost your SPR status.

  4. Looking at the email you posted, it seems that the SPR is tied to the REP?

    Just checked with the ICA web.

    A valid Re-Entry Permit (REP) is necessary whenever a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) wishes to travel out of Singapore. It will enable the Permanent Resident to retain his/her SPR status while away from Singapore.

    A SPR who remains outside Singapore without a valid REP will lose his/her SPR status. ::

    SO, your friend now have to reapply to be a SPR?

  5. Learning more everyday when browsing the web.


    If you are over 50 you do not need a job to renew your REP

    If you are on a family ties PR you also do not need a job to renew your REP.

    If you obtained you PR on the technical/education scheme and are under 50 then yes you need a job. Also, it may be difficult getting a 10 year renewal if you are on the technical scheme but it’s very easy (just ask for it) if you are here on the family ties scheme.


  6. Thank you for this timely and instructive post.
    You are very right, at a closer look, the “permanent” part of the PR turns out not to permanent.

    My own example: A year into my PR, my company sent me to the Middle East for 18 months. After that I moved to Malaysia to pursue a PhD. Right now I am utterly confused about what I can do to prevent my re-entry permit from lapsing in 2-3 years’ time.

    I thought about registering a freelancing business in S’pore so that I can pay taxes and CPF there. But even then, I would just be working on my laptop from Malaysia; I no longer “live” in S’pore.

    Do I need to actually rent out an apartment in S’pore even though I don’t live there, just to keep my PR?…

  7. My position is to persue a technical certificate course moved to india and going to finish my certificate course. my REP is valid to 2011, does it affect my PR status??

  8. Hi,

    Martin, i got the same idea since i am working in Russia, please advise and thru my email.
    mbaskar1976 at yahoo dot com

  9. hi im also having same problem ,my singapore PR expiers on 2011 and im lvin outside ,pls advice me regarding this

  10. PR is an entitlement? Since when? PRs are nothing more than foreigners residing in Singapore. They are not Singaporeans. Only Singaporeans with pink I/C can reside in Singapore permanently.

  11. Hi,

    Once of my friend is SPR since last 5 years and owns a HDB flat.Presently posted in Indonesia since last 1 1/2 years from his Singapore based co. His SPR would be due for renewal in June 2011. As per ICA advice last month he applied online for renewal (Re entry permit) and its been rejected.

    Can any one tell me what should be his next step to retain his PR? Is there any window for appeal? If yes what is the procedure? Pl. share your thought and experience

  12. My family and I have SPR for 4 years. Next year it is due to renew. All my kids are students in Singapore. I am unemployed and back and forth Indonesia and Singapore. Do you think I can renew my SPR ? Kindly advise

  13. Hi,
    I have SPR and expiring in dec 2011. Currently i am in USA. Is thee any chance get extend SPR when i am applying from USA.

    Some friends told better to goback to singapore and apply fromt there. If any one did that please do let me know pros and cons

  14. Guys, just to be clear I’m not in anyway more knowledgeable in this whole SPR thing than anyone. I’m happy if you were to post your question here to see if anyone will stumble upon it and share, but I think the best place you can get a definite answer will still be to call up ICA or your embassy and ask. If it’s something they can advise, they usually would. If you made a misinformed decision based on a public blog’s posting, it might be a disaster.

  15. Hi Loknath,
    I am aslso sailing on the same boat. but SPR is expiring on jan 2012. Currently i am located in USA.
    Did you applied or are canceled the PR or went back and apply the SPR. Please let me know…


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