A 5-minute guide to the evaluation criteria for Singapore PR applications

Sam & Nic

Sam & Nic

Co-founders of Sam, Nic + Co, Singapore Immigration Specialists
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This quick guide is for working professionals in Singapore: Employment Pass, S Pass, and Personalised Employment Pass holders, who plan to submit their Singapore PR application under the Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) scheme.

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • Why it’s important to understand the evaluation criteria
  • The evaluation system for Singapore PR applications
  • 8 key criterion to reflect on

Why is it important to understand the evaluation criteria?

Knowing the criteria will give you the big-picture idea of your chances for success.

It will also help you to better prepare your Singapore PR application when you’re aware of certain criterion you should try to address. We’ll elaborate further on this point in the individual criterion discussed later in this guide. 

What you should know about Singapore’s evaluation system

In Singapore, the selection process is not as transparent as the point system adopted by other countries. 

For example, in Canada, they use a points-based system where prospective candidates have to meet a minimum of 67 points from categories such as educational background, language proficiency, and employment history. The scoring rubrics are publicly available.

In Singapore, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) assesses each PR application on a holistic basis. Meaning, it’s a rather selective process. And there are no scoring rubrics made publicly available.

Nevertheless, we can glean the evaluation criteria based on the information ICA requires in your application. 

Let’s take a look at the 8 key criteria. 

1) Academic qualifications

Given Singapore’s reputation as a meritocracy, if you have post-secondary qualifications, you stand a better chance.

Our general guideline would be:

  • The higher your education level the better your chances
  • The reputability of the institutions you studied at matters
  • Willingness to continue to learn and develop yourself with courses and certificates after your formal education is a plus point
Singapore PR Criteria and Education Level

Statistically speaking: Based on latest figures available for 2018, 82.2% of new PRS above 20 years old have completed their post-secondary education.

(Source: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority)

2) Professional background

To support Singapore’s future economic progress, people who work in emerging or growing industries in Singapore generally stand a better chance, as opposed to those who work in a declining industry.

Regardless of the industry you’re in, your chances generally improve if you’re able to demonstrate:

  • Achievements and innovations in your career
  • The importance and significance of your role to the industry/economy
  • Subject matter expertise
  • A unique and valuable set of skills

3) Age

Singapore’s ageing population is a cause of economic concern, so we do need a younger workforce to support the older generation moving forward. 

If you fall under the early and prime working age groups, you would fare a better chance in your application. 

Singapore PR Criteria and Age Group

Statistically speaking:

  • In 2018, 38.3% of new PRs belonged to the 21-30 age group;
  • 29.5% belonged to the 20 and below age group;
  • 25.3% belonged to the 31-40 age group and;
  • 7% to the 40 and above age group.

(Source: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority)

If you’re part of the older age group, don’t feel too upset. We might not be able to turn back the clock, but you can still mitigate this “disadvantage”. We recommend making a clear case for the value of your level of experience. You could also highlight your ability and efforts to mentor and guide the next generation. 

4) Financial position

It’s a common opinion the higher your salary the higher your chances – not exactly! First, we need to emphasise there is NO minimum salary requirement to be eligible for PR.

We also believe this criterion has to be understood in context to your personal situation.

For example, if you were supporting a family of four in Singapore, on a sole monthly salary of $6,000 – this could be a financial stretch for many expatriate households. After deducting the big expenses (like rent for a larger accommodation, school fees, etc.) there wouldn’t be much left over for savings and wealth building. So, your long-term financial stability may be considered higher risk.

However, for a single applicant, a take-home salary of $3,000 can be comfortable. And if you were to save and invest prudently, you would be in a stronger financial position. 

5) Nationality

This a always a hot topic, but does your nationality really matter?

We believe it does. You have to consider how “culturally similar” your country is to Singapore, because tellingly, a good majority of new PRs come from Southeast Asian countries. 

Singapore PR Criteria and Nationality

Statistically speaking:

  • In 2018, 62.5% of new PRs came from Southeast Asia
  • 31.2% from other Asian countries
  • 6.3% from all other countries 

(Source: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority)

If you come from a more “culturally distant” country, you don’t have to feel disheartened. You can mitigate this by addressing your ability to socially integrate into Singapore (see point 8 below). 

6) Length of stay

It would be favourable to stay in Singapore for at least a year before applying. This would give you a reasonable time to familiarise yourself with the local culture, build relationships and engage with locals of different backgrounds in the community. 

Your length of stay signals your inclination towards living in Singapore long term. 

7) Familial ties in Singapore

We consider having familial ties in Singapore as a plus point. It generally indicates you have a built-in support system here. With social support, there is a larger tendency for people to lead a better quality of life – and this provides strong motivation to settle here long term. 

8) Social integration

We have seen rejection letters from the ICA stating social integration as one of the areas of consideration. 

However, the authorities do not explicitly ask for such details in the application. 

Nonetheless, we believe it is an important criterion to address where possible. After all, immigration has a major impact on a country’s social fabric. And in recent times, the political narrative in the media and in public forums has shifted – increasingly, new immigrants are encouraged to proactively engage and interact with locals. 

So, foreigners who can and are willing to integrate themselves will appeal as much more desirable candidates. 

A few things to think about

Reflecting on the criteria will help you to better gauge your chances of becoming a Singapore PR, and help you to assess the areas you might need to work on in your application.

Generally, the stronger you are in each of the individual factors – the better your chances of getting approved. 

Bear in mind, ICA’ s evaluation is holistic, so to a degree the individual factors are evaluated upon with regard to your unique personal context.

So, just because you might not fare so well in some criterion, it does not mean the rest of your merits are discounted. Your other merits could be enough to get you approved.

This helps to explain why we see older applicants get approved as compared to younger ones working in the same industry. Or why people earning substantially higher monthly salaries of above $20,000 get rejected, while people earning below $3,000  get approved. 

Ultimately, Singapore needs qualified people for a well-rounded society that functions properly and is prepared for any future challenge. And they may come from different economic, social, cultural, technical and professional backgrounds. 

For more tips for your Singapore PR Application, read: 24 Singapore PR Application Tips

Need 1-on-1 expert help?

Get in touch with us for a custom evaluation of your profile. We will evaluate the merits of your case, and provide you personalised recommendations for your Singapore PR application.

Click here to schedule your free one-on-one consultation with Sam/Nic. 

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