Singapore to take in 15,000 to 25,000 new citizens a year

Singapore will take in 15,000 to 25,000 new citizens to stop the population from shrinking, says the Population White Paper.

On an average, 18,500 people were granted Singapore citizenship annually over the last five years but fewer than that last year, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in September last year, according to AsiaOne.

The government also plans to take in about 30,000 permanent residents each year. “This will maintain a stable PR population of between 0.5 and 0.6 million, to ensure a pool of suitable potential citizen,” says the white paper.

The number of new permanent residents decreased from an average of 58,000 a year from 2004 to 2008, to 28,500 a year from 2010 onwards, said DPM Teo last September.

“We have come down from a high of 79,000 new PRs in 2008 to about 30,000 each year currently,” says the white paper.

Young immigrants help make up for “the smaller cohorts of younger Singaporeans” and balance a shrinking and ageing citizen population, it notes.

The immigration policy has also to take into fact that an increasing number of Singaporeans are marrying foreigners, it adds.

“About 40% of Singaporean marriages each year are between a Singaporean and a non-Singaporean – some 9,000 in 2011 alone,” says the white paper.

The immigration policy, tightened in 2009, will be reviewed periodically based on the quality of applicants, the national birth rate and changing needs, says the white paper, found here.

Singapore’s total population grew from 4.2 million in 2005 to 5.3 million last year as the country welcomed more foreigners to take up jobs created by a booming economy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

The total population is projected to be between 5.8 million and 6 million by 2020, according to the Population White Paper. It says: “The resident population (comprising citizens and PRs) is projected to be 4 to 4.1 million, of which citizens alone will make up 3.5 to 3.6 million. By 2030, Singapore’s total population could range between 6.5 and 6.9 million.”

The paper says:

Immigrants bring with them diverse talents, skills, experiences, and knowledge. Diversity in our population supports innovation and entrepreneurship, and adds to our strengths as a society and economy, helping us to adapt to rapidly shifting global trends and rising competition. 

Taking in immigrants who are in the younger age groups also helps to make up for the smaller cohorts of younger Singaporeans, and balance the shrinking and ageing of our citizen population.

Singapore’s immigration policy was last reviewed in 2009, when we tightened the
application criteria for Singapore citizenship and permanent residence to moderate the numbers. We take into account factors such as the individual’s family ties to Singaporeans, economic contributions, qualifications, age and family profile, to assess the applicant’s ability to contribute to Singapore and integrate into our society, as well as his or her commitment to sinking roots. We will continue to refine this framework over time, taking into consideration the needs of Singapore and the quality and background of the applicants. 

Our immigration policy must also take into account the growing proportion of Singaporeans who are marrying foreign spouses, as well as children born to Singaporeans living overseas. In 2011, there were 9,000 marriages registered between a Singaporean and a non-Singaporean. We are also seeing more children born overseas to Singapore citizens. These children are granted citizenship upon registration by their parents. There were about 2,000 such children in 2011.

The paper notes: “ Singaporeans have highlighted that it is important for our new immigrants to fit into our society.” It adds: “We will continue to enhance our integration efforts to help new citizens adapt to our Singaporean way of life and sink deep roots, while adding to Singapore’s rich diversity… Like all Singaporeans, new immigrants are strongly encouraged to get to know their neighbours and participate actively in their community.”