Residence by Investment: Residence in Hong Kong and Singapore via Employment and Investment

Author: Kayla Lau

To boost economies, most countries in the Caribbean offer residence to foreigners through investment. This attracts skilled workers as well as opening up doors to individuals who wish to live, work and school in the host country.
What is Residency by Investment?
A residency by investment program is a legal and financial process that requires a foreign national to invest in the economy of another country in order to gain residence there. The residency status could be permanent or temporary. A permanent residence eventually leads to citizenship but it is a process that takes time, requires a permanent resident card and physical residence in the country for a certain period of time.
Two popular cities for relocation are Hong Kong and Singapore.
Hong Kong
Hong Kong has one of the world’s most competitive and freest economy. It is a gateway to mainland China and its bilingual legal system and simple tax regime has attracted many foreign entrepreneurs for investment and residence in Hong Kong.
Although Hong Kong does not have a citizenship through investment program, it does offer other alternatives to residency aimed at attracting talent, professionals and entrepreneurs. The previous residence scheme in Hong Kong, the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme was suspended in 2015.
Permanent residence in Hong Kong can be granted after 7 years of continuous residency.
Hong Kong now offers many routes to residency, including:
The General Employment Policy
The Employment Visa in Hong Kong is meant for individuals who wish to work and live in Hong Kong. Applicants must have ‘a good education background’ and/or relevant experience which is not readily available in Hong Kong. Each applicant is assessed based on their qualifications and the sponsoring company.
Investment as Entrepreneurs
The Hong Kong Investment Visa is meant for foreign entrepreneurs wishing to relocate to Hong Kong and establish a business. The key criteria of assessment lies in the ability to prove that such business will make a significant contribution to the economy of Hong Kong. Each application is assessed based on the qualifications of the entrepreneur and business to be set-up.
The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) seeks to attract highly skilled or talented individuals looking to settle in Hong Kong. Applicants are required to fulfil a set of prerequisites before they can be awarded a point, part of a two point-based test. Qualified individuals from a ‘Talent List’ are eligible for bonus points under the QMAS.
Living in Singapore means that residents benefit from the country’s political stability and economic prosperity. Singapore also has a reputable education system and a reliable healthcare system. Singapore citizenship is offered on a single citizenship basis. After two years of permanent residence in Singapore, it is possible to apply for Singaporean citizenship. There are different types of permanent resident schemes for foreigners who intend to stay in the country:
Singapore PR scheme for Individuals working in Singapore
The Professionals/Technical Personnel & Skilled Worker scheme (or simply “PTS scheme”) is for foreign professionals who are working in Singapore at the time of applying for permanent residence. The PTS scheme is the easiest and most assured route to attaining PR in Singapore. The key requirement is that you must be working in Singapore at the time of application.
Singapore PR scheme for Investors
The Singapore Global Investor Program is designed for entrepreneurs or investors who are interested in making substantial financial investments, with a minimum investment of SGD2.5 million or similar amount in an established business in Singapore. Under the GIP scheme, investors can invest in a start-up, expand an existing business or place investment in a GIP-approved fund. Apart from a minimum investment amount, other criteria must also be met, such as good business track record, entrepreneurial background with a business proposal or investment plan.
Singapore PR scheme for Foreign Artistic Talent
The Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme (ForArts) was introduced in 1991 for international arts professionals to become Singapore Permanent Residents, in recognition of their cultural significance and contribution. To qualify for this scheme, applicants must be a well-recognised artist in their own country, preferably with an international reputation and possess the relevant training in their field of practice.
In Summary
While many countries now offer residency investment schemes, the requirements of such differ and there is no absolute answer of which jurisdiction is more attractive or suitable. For example, a minimum investment of €250,000 is required for the Greek Golden Visa whereas Hong Kong has no minimum investment requirement but does require the applicant to prove that he or she will make a substantial contribution to Hong Kong’s economy through job creation for the local workforce, service engagement with local services providers, suppliers etc.
Many choose to obtain a Singaporean permanent residence as being a PR allows you to live, work and invest in the society and economy of Singapore. Singapore offers attractive tax benefits, generous tax incentives and a lower cost environment. The country has a friendly tax regime and over recent years has continued to introduce tax regulations that favour foreign investors. However, applying for the PR status takes a considerable length of time and dual citizenship is not permitted.
By comparison, Hong Kong offers various options to residency which are often more cost effective. Foreigners are allowed to work and run businesses in Hong Kong while enjoying one of the lowest tax rates in the world and a high standard of living.
Zetland can establish and administer companies in both Hong Kong and Singapore which can assist in obtaining permanent residency. We can offer you advice and guidance to help achieve your goals.
For further details, please contact us via email or call us at +852 3552 9085.

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