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Will I qualify for PR?

Jun 5, 2010

FOREIGNERS’ WORRY

Will I qualify for PR?

Removal of online tool to assess permanent residency eligibility adds layer of uncertainty

By Melissa Kok

FOREIGNERS eyeing permanent residency (PR) used to just take an online quiz to gauge the chances of their application being successful.

The Naturalisation Eligibility Tool found on the website of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), however, was removed in March.

The ICA said it is reviewing it.

Foreigners who have found the tool useful for a quick assessment of their chances of success have thus been left dangling about whether to send in a formal application.

The Government’s move late last year to tighten the criteria for PR and citizenship, so as to better manage the inflow of foreigners, adds to their uncertainty.

Chief among their grouses is the lack of information on what it will take to qualify for PR and citizenship.

The ICA will not say much either, because its policy is not to ‘publicly disclose the exact criteria to prevent abuse of information’, said its spokesman.

She added that the tightened eligibility criteria are designed to ensure that foreigners will be ‘better integrated into Singapore society’ and can contribute economically to Singapore.

But tightened criteria aside, the first stop of choice for many foreigners used to be the online tool that, through its questions, would tell them whether they meet the minimum requirements for PR or citizenship.

The questions cover areas like their jobs, industry sectors, current salaries, education, length of stay, marital status and number of children, if they have any.

Upon completing the questionnaire, one of three buttons will light up: A green button means the minimum requirements have been met and the individual can apply for PR or citizenship.

An amber button means the individual may not be eligible now, but may qualify in a year or two, and a red button means the individual has failed to qualify.

The tool gives an indication of one’s chances and does not guarantee success, even for those assessed as qualified. The website does not spell out the minimum requirements, apart from listing the type of foreigners who qualify to apply for PR – namely, S pass and employment pass holders, and the aged parents of Singapore citizens.

A Malaysian who wanted to be known only as Sarah said: ‘There’s not much transparency in the eligibility requirements. They don’t tell you anything at all on the website.’

The assistant manager in a finance firm and employment pass holder, who applied for PR last month, said of the now-offline eligibility tool: ‘If I know I don’t qualify, I won’t waste time going through the whole process, getting documentation ready for nothing.’

Some of those with applications already in the works have been waiting for as long as eight months. They do not know whether the long wait is a result of the changes, which include a higher income bar and residential requirements.

The Straits Times understands that an application for PR or citizenship usually takes four to six months to process.

The tougher rules seem to have taken effect: Fewer applicants were approved for PR and citizenship in the past year.

Between April last year and the end of March, the country welcomed 46,300 new PRs and 19,300 new citizens, down from 79,200 PRs and 20,500 citizens for the 2008 calendar year.

Ms Momoko Yamamoto, 29, who sent in an application last November, did not make the cut. She believes the changes have something to do with it.

The employment pass holder, who earns close to $4,000 a month, said she knows of foreigners with educational and work qualifications similar to hers who were granted PR at the start of last year.

‘I thought my chances were high, so I was surprised when I was rejected. I thought Singapore would be a nice place to settle down, but it didn’t work out.’

melk@sph.com.sg

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2 Responses to “Will I qualify for PR?”

  1. Dan Jennings says:

    Like your site. Can you come see mine? Thanks friend.

  2. Hm, I’m just happy with this nevertheless not completely sure, therefore i am going to research a touch more.

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