“Singapore favors talented individuals who possess wealth and technical skills. The market here is not lacking in various investors and high-net-worth individuals,” Wang Jian told a journalist from Southern Weekly, stating that Singapore’s financial industry is relatively saturated and in greater need of IT professionals.
Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, once said at a summit, “We only have 3.5 million Singaporeans, but there are billions of people who might be queuing up to enter Singapore.”
In the first decade of the 21st century, Singapore welcomed immigrants from around the world with open arms. At that time, Jiang Jing and her husband obtained permanent residency in Singapore with the government’s welcome, and they bought an apartment early on.
In 2013, Singapore’s “Population White Paper,” which included immigration policies, sparked protests from locals, with some even calling for the ruling People’s Action Party to step down. After five days of intense debate, the Singapore government began to moderately tighten immigration policies for highly skilled talents.
In the past decade, obtaining permanent residency has become more difficult in order to optimize talent and ensure employment opportunities for locals.
Since August 2014, the Singapore government has required companies applying for work permits to advertise job positions on the official employment website for 14 days before considering foreign applicants, if there are no suitable local candidates.
Since then, Singapore has focused more on attracting global high-end talents as a national strategy. In 2022, the Singapore Economic Development Board introduced the “Tech Pass,” welcoming technology professionals earning a monthly salary of over SGD 20,000 to work in Singapore.
On March 15, 2023, the Singapore government raised the threshold for attracting wealthy individuals through the “Global Investor Program” (GIP). Previously, foreign wealthy individuals could apply for permanent residency by investing SGD 2.5 million in companies, funds, or family offices. Now, this investment has been raised to SGD 10 million.
Compared to Singapore, Zhou Rui has a more positive view of Hong Kong’s talent policy. “In terms of immigration policy, whether a Singapore permanent residency application is approved still depends on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s attitude, while most people in Hong Kong can obtain permanent residency as long as they hold the Hong Kong Talent List Work Visa for seven years,” he said.
At the end of 2022, the Hong Kong “Talent List” program was implemented. As of the end of February 2023, Hong Kong has approved nearly 9,000 applications, with 95% of applicants coming from mainland China.