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Benjamin Gamble

Singapore Residency and Citizenship by Investment

Singapore is nestled at the crossroads of Asia. Singapore’s reputation as a global financial hub makes it a converted destination for talented and wealthy individuals.

The current pathways into Singapore remain rooted in rigorous investment and integration processes, reflecting the city-state’s emphasis on sustainable growth and social harmony.

Let’s explore and delve into the main investment routes to Singapore residency, dispel the myth of a direct citizenship by investment program, and the timeline to become a Singaporean citizen. Singapore is ranked highest in the world for healthcare along with a high-quality British education system. Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world making it an ideal location for talented and wealthy individuals. The official language is English making a seamless transition into the business environment of Singapore.


The Misconception of a Singapore CBI Program

Contrary to common belief, Singapore does not currently have a citizenship by investment program. There are numerous routes to becoming a Singapore citizen but they involve fostering deep ties into Singaporean society and maintaining high physical presence requirements. To become a citizen you must first become a Singapore resident.


Navigating the Investment Routes to Singapore Residency


The Singapore Global Investor Program (GIP)

The GIP is Singapore's flagship golden visa investment route, catering to high-net-worth individuals and established business owners. The GIP program was created in 2004 to attract foreign investors who could contribute to Singapore’s rapid economic growth. The GIP offers permanent residence status for individuals and their immediate family members in exchange for a substantial business investment in the country’s economy. Singapore is home to the best healthcare and education systems in the world, guaranteeing your family’s well-being.

The Global Investor Programme offers two investment options:

Option A:  A minimum investment of SGD 10 million in a new business entity or expansion of an existing business in Singapore. This option is ideal for entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the Singaporean business landscape actively.

Option B: An investment of SGD 25 million in a GIP-approved fund that focuses on Singapore-based companies. This option suits investors who prefer a more hands-off approach while contributing to the local economy

Option C: Open a Singapore-based single-family office (SFO) with assets under management of at least SGD $200 million; A minimum amount of SGD $50 million must be deposited in any of the four following categories:

  • Equities, real estate investment trusts, or company trusts listed on Singapore-approved exchanges.
  • Qualifying debt securities listed on the Monetary Authority of Singapore inquiry system
  • Funds distributed by Singapore-licensed financial institutions
  • Private equity investments in non-listed companies based in Singapore

The GIP investment options may include other prerequisites such as submitting a detailed 5-year investment plan with projected expenditure, financial data, employment, and paying the application fee. The application process is very comprehensive, it’s advised to work with a local specialist when applying.

The Singaporean government recently increased the minimum investment requirements for the GIP. This move aims to ensure that the investments continue to bring substantial economic benefits and employment opportunities to the local populace.

The GIP not only opens doors to permanent residency but also embodies the investor's commitment to Singapore's economic prosperity. Its stringent vetting process ensures alignment with the nation’s long-term goals, making it a mutually beneficial program for both Singapore and the investors. The program is aimed at individuals with a substantial business track record.

The Entrepass program

The Singapore Entrepreneur Pass (Entrepass) Is a business visa granted to foreign entrepreneurs who want to relocate to Singapore and operate a business in the country.

The Entrepass is initially granted for one year with the possibility of future renewals, after two years of residency in Singapore you may be eligible for PR, and after holding PR for two years, you may be eligible to apply for Singapore citizenship.


The eligibility requirements are:

You intend to set up or have already set up a private limited company registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

  • If the company is already registered, it must be less than 6 months old on the date that you apply.
  • If not registered, you must register it within 30 days of application approval.

The company must hold at least SGD $50k in paid-up capital. You will also need to provide a bank statement that shows at least SGD $50k in a Singapore-based company bank account. You must also own at least 30% of the shares in the company.

The company must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Funding of at least SGD $100k from a Government-accredited VC or Business Angel, or
  • Hold Intellectual Property (IP) that is registered with an approved national IP institution, or owned by one of the shareholders and related to the proposed business (IP that has expired can be considered as long as one of the shareholders is the inventor), or
  • Be engaged in ongoing research collaboration with a research institution recognized by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or institutes of higher learning in Singapore, or
  • Be an existing incubate, related to your proposed business, at a Singapore Government-supported incubator.

The program is aimed at next-generation business owners with a successful entrepreneurial background. No nationalities are restricted from the Entrepass program, making it open to all entrepreneurs. Dependents can also be included. Additional supporting documents will also be required when completing application forms for the Entrepass program and it is advised to contact a local immigration specialist.  


The Timeline from Residency to Singapore Citizenship


Becoming a Singapore permanent resident

The GIP and the Entrepass programs serve as a gateway to obtaining a permanent residence permit. This status is a critical first step on the path to citizenship. When applying to become a permanent resident in Singapore, the applicant may receive an approval-in-principle (AIP) this means that the application has been preliminarily approved based on the information provided. Once you are a permanent resident in Singapore you are required to apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the country and must not be outside of Singapore for a maximum period of 5 years.


Journey to Citizenship

After 2 years of permanent residence, residents can usually apply for citizenship. The path from PR to citizenship is comprehensive, involving a stringent assessment of the applicant’s economic contributions, integration into society, and commitment to Singaporean values.

Family Ties and Naturalization

PRs with family members who are Singaporean citizens can apply for citizenship, highlighting the importance Singapore places on familial bonds. The naturalization process is an intensive review of the applicant's assimilation into Singapore's society and culture.

National Service

All male Singaporean citizens are required to complete mandatory National Service, as well as second-generation permanent residents. The full-time National Service period is 24 months, after which reservist requirements apply every year until the age of 40 for most ranks or 50 for officers. Usually, if someone over the age of 30 becomes a citizen they will be excluded from mandatory National Service.

Singapore's world-class banking

Singapore’s world-renowned banking sector is a cornerstone of the country’s economic might. It plays a pivotal role in attracting global investors. Famous for its Safety, stability, robust regulatory environment, and technological innovation. Singapore is home to a long list of the safest and most respected banks in the world. Singaporean banks offer a secure and efficient platform for personal and business asset management. There are strong capital adequacy ratios plus a commitment to client privacy making it an ideal haven for investors.


Integrating into Singapore’s Society

For those seeking Singaporean citizenship, integration into the local society is as crucial as the financial investment. Singapore values the cultural assimilation and societal contribution of its residents. Applicants for citizenship are often assessed on their efforts to integrate, including understanding local customs, participating in the community, and contributing to the societal fabric. This aspect of the citizenship process ensures that new citizens are not just financially invested but are also emotionally and culturally aligned with Singapore's values and ethos.

The Singaporean Passport

The Singaporean passport is ranked 1st in the world with visa-free access to over 193 destinations.

The passport is one of the most respected in the world, giving unparalleled freedoms to passport-bearers. Featuring visa-free travel to the United States, Europe’s Schengen area, Australia, Canada, Russia, China, and the UK.

Singapore does not allow dual citizenship meaning you must renounce your current citizenship when becoming a Singapore citizen.

Alternatives to permanent residency in Singapore

If you want to stay in Singapore for longer than a tourist but do not want to become a permanent resident, the Singaporean Visit Pass is a great option. You could be issued a long-term or short-term visit pass, allowing you to stay in Singapore for various periods of time. You could be issued a visit pass for Business, social, or medical needs.

Visit passes are usually more straightforward and easy to obtain compared to GIP or the Entrepass.

Conclusion

Singapore offers a unique proposition for those seeking residency and citizenship.

While there is no direct CBI program, the country’s pathways to citizenship through the GIP and other investment routes provide a comprehensive framework for residents to become potential citizens. Coupled with Singapore’s world-class banking environment and emphasis on social integration, it makes the country a top destination for forward-looking investors seeking a mix of financial opportunity and quality of life.

Singapore also boasts a great tax regime, making it the perfect destination in Asia for tax optimization. The journey to becoming a Singaporean citizen, while rigorous, is a rewarding process, offering the chance to become a citizen of a dynamic, forward-looking country that values both economic contributions and cultural integration.

Benjamin Gamble
INVESTMENT MIGRATION EXPERT

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