The Global Investor Programme (“GIP”), which allows eligible foreign investors and their family members to apply for Singapore Permanent Residence (“PR”), will be significantly enhanced with effect from 1 March 2020. The GIP is an initiative administered by Contact Singapore, a division of the Economic Development Board.
With the changes, next-generation business owners, founders of fast-growing companies from certain industries and family office principals will stand to qualify for PR status through GIP.
The changes to the eligibility criteria for GIP including new categories of foreign investors and conditions for the renewal of PR status are summarized below.
Established Business Owners
Presently, a foreign investor with a substantial business track record and successful entrepreneurial background may be eligible for GIP if he, amongst other criteria, has been running a business for at least 3 years and owns a company with an annual turnover of at least S$50 million. With effect from 1 March 2020, such a foreign investor will be assessed for GIP under the profile of an established business owner, and will, amongst other criteria, be required to own a company with an annual turnover of at least S$200 million to be eligible for GIP.
A summary of the key changes to the eligibility criteria applicable to established business owners is set out in the following table:
A foreign investor who does not meet the eligibility criteria for GIP that are applicable to an established business owner may still be eligible to apply for GIP. He may apply for GIP under one of the following profiles:
- next generation business owner;
- founder of a fast-growing company; or
- principal of a family office.
Next Generation Business Owners (New Category)
A foreign investor without a substantial business track record and successful entrepreneurial background may still be eligible for GIP if he is from a family with a successful business track record. In particular, he will be required to show that, amongst other criteria, he is part of the management team of his family’s company which has an annual turnover of at least S$500 million.
A summary of the eligibility criteria applicable to a next generation business owner is set out in the following table:
Founders of Fast Growth Companies (New Category)
If a foreign investor is unable to show that he or his family has a substantial business track record, he may still be eligible for GIP if he, amongst other criteria, owns a company which is invested into by reputable investors and which has valuation of at least S$500 million.
A summary of the eligibility criteria applicable to a founder of a fast-growing company is set out in the following table:
Family Office Principals
Presently, a foreign investor may be eligible for GIP via the family office route if he, amongst other criteria, has at least 5 years of experience investing in or managing a business and a net worth of at least S$400 million. With effect from 1 March 2020, such a foreign investor will be assessed for GIP under the profile of a family office principal, and will, amongst other criteria, be required to have at least S$200 million of investible assets to be eligible for GIP.
A summary of the key changes to the eligibility criteria applicable to family office principals is set out in the following table:
Renewal of PR status
If a foreign investor is granted PR status under the GIP, he will be issued with a Re-Entry Permit (“REP”), which allows him to maintain PR status even when he is out of Singapore. The REP is valid for 5 years and may be renewed if the renewal conditions are fulfilled.
With effect from 1 March 2020, the renewal conditions will be amended such that a foreign investor is no longer assessed with reference to the third-year milestones indicated in the business plan submitted during the application for GIP.
A summary of the key changes to the renewal conditions are set out in the tables below:
The new qualifying criteria places emphasis on high-performing companies with a view to create more economic and job opportunities in Singapore, This is likely in tandem with the shift in the global economy over the past few years which has resulted in the birth of a new breed of entrepreneurs and business owners such as owners of high growth technology companies.
While the amendments appear to broaden the pool of foreign investors qualifying for GIP, the segregation of foreign investors into distinct categories, and the introduction of separate qualifying criteria for each category mean that the bar has been lifted higher for some of the foreign investors. Increasingly, it will be harder for established business owners and entrepreneurs to qualify for PR status under the GIP unless they meet the new requirements.
Interested investors may wish to note that as long as the application for GIP is submitted prior to 1 March 2020, the existing conditions for renewal of PR status would apply to the foreign investor, even if the GIP application is approved from 1 March 2020 onwards.
Disclaimer: This update is provided to you for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Get To Know The Authors
Pradeep acts for corporations, whether they are private or listed companies, on all aspects of their business including advice and drafting of documentation on investments, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and restructurings. With Pradeep co-heading the Employment and Immigration team, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020 has commented that CNPLaw has “a solid reputation” for assisting local and foreign clients, who are employers or employees, with a range of issues.
Pei-Ling has over 23 years of experience in corporate and cross-border transactions, and has advised on investments, joint-ventures and commercial transactions in Singapore and Malaysia. Over the years, she has also developed a practice in the areas of data protection, technology and employment.