I married a Singaporean Citizen. Does that make me eligible for Citizenship?
In Singapore, many citizens have foreign spouses from different parts of the world due to Singapore’s multinational and multicultural population, as well as its status as an international hub. However, marriage does not make one a Singaporean, and foreign spouses of Singaporean Citizens need to apply for their Citizenship status. This process, depending on the foreign spouse’s current status in Singapore, may take up to a few years.
For Permanent Residents
For spouses who are Permanent Residents in Singapore, you are eligible to apply for Citizenship after marrying a Singaporean only after at least two years of both marriage and Permanent Residency.
For Non-Permanent Residents with a Work Pass
For spouses who are already working in Singapore and holding a Work Pass, you may choose to apply for Permanent Residency under the Professionals, Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme. This is generally the most common and preferred route, as the Work Pass holder only needs to be living in Singapore for at least 6 months, to be eligible for this scheme.
For Non-Permanent Residents without a Work Pass
Spouses without a Work Pass may apply as the Spouse of a Singapore Citizen. Both the PTS Scheme and “Spouse of a Singapore Citizen” are valid ways of obtaining Singapore Permanent Residency; it is the decision of the applicant to decide which method you feel suits you best.
For spouses who are neither Permanent Residents nor in Singapore on a Work Pass, it may be more challenging to obtain Singaporean Citizenship. However, there are other ways of obtaining this, such as with Singapore’s Global Investor Programme (GIP). The GIP accords Singapore Permanent Resident status (PR) to eligible global investors who intend to drive their businesses and investment growth from Singapore; which will ultimately help to increase their chances when they apply for citizenship too.
Why apply for Singapore Citizenship?
With Citizenship comes benefits that neither PRs nor Foreigners may enjoy in Singapore. While PRs do enjoy certain benefits such as the CPF social security savings plan, Citizens are privy to more subsidies and benefits. These benefits include visa-free travel, housing, and healthcare subsidies.
- Visa-free Travel
With Singapore Citizenship, one will have access to all the benefits associated with the Singapore passport, one of the world’s most powerful passports. According to the Henley Passport Index, Singapore’s passport is ranked No. 1 in the world, tied next to Japan’s; with visa-free or on-arrival visa access to 192 countries around the world.
The visa-free and on-arrival visa access that Singapore’s passport has are the most valued and biggest perks. With a Singaporean passport, you will be able to enjoy travel to many countries around the world without having to apply for a visa.
- Housing Benefits
Other than visa-free travel, being a Singapore citizen guarantees easier access to housing benefits. In Singapore, only citizens are eligible to purchase apartment units built from the nation’s Housing Development Board (HDB), ranging from 2-room flats to executive condos and studio apartments. PRs are eligible to purchase only resale flats, subject to HDB’s eligibility criteria.
While PRs are still eligible to purchase, subsidised housing is available only to Citizens: only Citizens may obtain a housing loan from HDB at a concessionary interest rate, and first-time buyers of HDB flats can enjoy the CPF Housing Grant offered to eligible households. First-time buyers can receive subsidies of up to SGD 40,000 on their HDB flat purchase, a concession available only to citizens. Furthermore, when upgrading works are carried out by the HDB on the flats, Citizens only need to pay a heavily subsidised fee, while Permanent Residents who own resale flats will have to pay full upgrading costs.
Other benefits that Citizens enjoy which are inaccessible to PRs and Foreigners include the ability to freely purchase landed property. While PRs are allowed to purchase landed properties like bungalows and terrace housing, their purchase is still subject to government approval. Foreigners are only allowed rental of property, and purchase of only non-landed property such as condo apartments.
For more information on housing and the criteria involved, please visit the HDB Website.
- Healthcare Benefits
Singaporean Citizens enjoy higher subsidies on healthcare compared to PRs and are also eligible for certain healthcare schemes.
The subsidies that Citizens enjoy are marginally higher than that of PRs. For example, at public and restructured hospitals, Citizens enjoy 10% more off ward fees and services compared to PRs. At polyclinics, medical consultation fees for PRs are higher than that of Citizens, who enjoy extra subsidies for children and elderly. Meanwhile, foreigners are not eligible for any subsidy at hospitals and are ineligible for treatment at polyclinics.
One of these schemes is the Primary Care Partnership Scheme (PCPS), which brings polyclinic-level charges to participating private general practitioners and dentists for outpatient medical and dental treatments. This scheme is meant to bring affordable primary healthcare to citizens who live far from the 23 polyclinics across Singapore. While PRs and Foreigners will have to pay full price at these private clinics, Citizens will be able to enjoy subsidised rates.
Singaporeans are also eligible for the Medifund healthcare scheme, which is an endowment fund aimed at helping to finance the medical expenses of needy Singaporeans. Medifund grants are provided to approved medical institutions for eligible citizens.
- Other Incentives
On top of being able to vote, citizens are eligible to enjoy maternity leave and parenthood incentives if your child is a Singaporean Citizen. Parenthood incentives include tax rebates, childcare rebates, and the Baby Bonus scheme that comes in the form of a cash gift. Singaporeans are also eligible for heavily subsidised public education from Primary education all the way till University.
There are many benefits to becoming a Singaporean Citizen. If you are already a PR in Singapore and intend to establish your family here, you may want to consider becoming a Citizen. After all, we are a nation built on the efforts of immigrants who decided to take root here and make Singapore their home.
– Written by: Asahi Yip, Cayman Management Consultants
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