UK: The Global Battle For The Entrepreneur And Investor

Last Updated: 16 September 2016
Article by Leon Kwong Wing

Singapore has long been a magnet for successful international investors and entrepreneurs, in part because of determined efforts by its government to attract talent, innovation and money from overseas. That said, government policies have evolved significantly over recent years, making it more difficult for foreigners to secure permanent residency or citizenship.

Given the substantial benefits of Singaporean residence versus that of many other jurisdictions, it is worth reviewing the various options open to foreign investors and entrepreneurs seeking to reside in Singapore. Essentially there are four avenues: temporary residence enabled by an Employment Pass or Entrepass, or permanent residence as a Permanent Resident (PR) or Citizen.

Employment Pass

The attraction of Singapore as a place for international investors to do business is clear. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange, the import of capital or the repatriation of profits. Generally, a business may be wholly foreign-owned; no local equity or collaboration is needed. Incorporating a company in Singapore can be accomplished in a single day, though it does require at least one director who is ordinarily resident in Singapore. This resident director need not be a Singapore Citizen or PR – a foreign entrepreneur may apply for an Employment Pass linked to a local company. The Employment Pass, as its name denotes, is a Work Pass which entitles professionals, managers and executives to reside in Singapore for the purpose of and on the basis of employment.

An Employment Pass is specific to the employer company and is usually issued for 12 to 24 months at a time. It can be renewed indefinitely, subject to the criteria prevailing at the time of renewal, and assuming that the financial performance of the business in Singapore is capable of supporting the individual's continued employment. Renewal is usually straightforward and hassle-free. The pass holder is also eligible to apply for dependant's passes for his or her spouse and children under 21 to live in Singapore. If the individual draws a fixed monthly remuneration of S$10,000 or more, his or her parents are also eligible for passes to reside in Singapore. For Employment Pass purposes, the entrepreneur is advised to use a corporate shareholder — that is, one of the entrepreneur's existing companies abroad — for the Singapore company. At least S$50,000 should be invested by the foreign parent company in the Singapore company as share capital. Finally, the company should declare and pay a fixed monthly remuneration of about S$8,000 for the entrepreneur.


The EntrePass is a different category of Work Pass appropriate to the entrepreneur who intends to be the shareholder of his own company in Singapore. The company must have paid-up share capital of at least S$50,000, and the EntrePass applicant must own at least 30% of the shares in the company. However, this route is considerably more involved, restrictive and onerous than the standard Employment Pass.

An EntrePass application requires the applicant to give information about business ventures in which the person is or was a founder, partner or shareholder. It must be accompanied by a detailed business plan and documentary proof of sources of funding and availability of funds. It must also meet one of a number of criteria aimed at ensuring that the venture is aligned with Singapore's strategic priorities.

An EntrePass is issued for 12 months at a time and, as a rule, it will only be renewed each year if the business meets certain thresholds with respect to local business spending and job creation.

PR and Citizenship – the Global Investor Programme

A direct route to Singapore PR status lies in the Global Investor Programme. The prospective immigrant must either directly invest in an active business in Singapore, or make a financial investment in a locally focused venture capital fund approved by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB).

According to a written answer to Parliament in 2010, about 1,000 investors over the preceding three years invested S$1.5 billion under the programme. Of these about 100 made active investments which created about 1,500 jobs. This means that about nine out of 10 applicants chose to make a passive fund investment.

Unfortunately, relatively few people are eligible for the programme as the criteria have become more demanding over the years. Until June 2009, the requirements were merely qualitative. The programme was open to persons with 'a substantial business track record' and 'an entrepreneurial background'. In June 2009, the EDB introduced an explicit requirement that it would only consider people who owned (at least in part) a business with S$10 million revenues a year. This threshold was raised to S$30 million in 2011 and to S$50 million in 2012. The eligibility of certain senior executives (non-business owners) was also removed in 2011. Thus, in less than three years, the quantitative criterion went up five-fold, and ability of a large number of international executives to avail of the programme was removed.

An application to become a Singapore PR under the Global Investor Programme takes about six months to approve, while a person working in Singapore on an Employment Pass or EntrePass may apply for permanent residence after working in Singapore for about two years. This is not an explicit condition, since the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore gives no official guidance, but a rule of thumb.

Generally, the higher the socio-economic status of the applicant according to income, education and occupation, the greater the likelihood of obtaining permanent residence. All other things being equal, an application by a family is more to succeed than an application by one member only. Applications for permanent residence take up to 12 months to process.

A person who has been living in Singapore as a PR for at least two years may apply for citizenship. This is a more explicit rule and periods away from Singapore have to be accounted for. Once again, the higher the socio-economic status of the applicant, the greater the likelihood of the application being successful. Applications for citizenship
also take about 12 months to process. Since Singapore does not permit dual citizenship, the successful applicant must renounce his existing citizenship before becoming a Singapore Citizen.


Singapore deserves its reputation as an great place to do business, as well as an extremely attractive place to live, work, raise a family or retire. Its popularity as an expatriate destination is unlikely to wane in the near future, yet its policies are likely to get more restrictive, as the government becomes ever more discerning about who it permits to reside here. Given all of this, it is important to seek advice from a trusted advisor who understands the nuances of the immigration system and can advise you on the best approach.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Leon Kwong Wing
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.