Singapore has offered routes to permanent residency for investors since the 1970s. In 2004, Singapore launched the Financial Investor Scheme (FIS). Unlike previous schemes, the FIS allowed investments in financial assets such as bank deposits, capital market products and collective investment schemes.
While the option to invest passively made the new program more appealing, the requirements for the scheme were higher than existing programs at the time. Investors were required to have a net worth of S$20 million (around $12 million at the time) and invest S$5 million ($3 million at the time). The scheme was later modified to allow S$2 million of the S$5 million to be invested in selected real estate options. In 2010, the minimum total investment was doubled to S$10 million.
Singapore’s monetary authority ended the FIS scheme in 2012, amid concerns of the impact of the influx of wealthy immigrants on asset prices and the property market. Permanent residence in Singapore remains available under the Global Investor Programme, which has much stricter requirements for the investor’s background. Applicants must have a successful entrepreneurial background and must own at least 30% of a company with revenues exceeding S$50 million ($37.5 million) on average over the previous three years. Applicants must invest S$2.5 million ($1.87 million) in Singapore. This can either be in forming a new business or expanding an existing one, or in an approved fund that invests in Singapore-based companies.