Parliament: About 7,000 foreign students granted PR status

SINGAPORE - About 7,000 foreign students at the secondary and junior college levels have become permanent residents "on their own merits" between 2001 and 2014, said Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran on Monday.

And some 840 of them - or 12 per cent - have taken up citizenship.

Of those granted permanent residency, one per cent have given it up, while none have renounced their citizenship, said Mr Iswaran.

He was responding to Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang), who wanted to know how many foreign students were offered, or had accepted, permanent residency on or after reaching Secondary 1.

Mr Png also wanted to know the intention behind granting these young foreigners "with no roots in Singapore" permanent residency, instead of giving them the option to work here after their graduation.

Mr Iswaran said this was part of keeping different routes and options open.

"The member suggested this is a group that is too young to be considered. There is in fact an equally persuasive alternative view because these young people by virtue of being embedded in our education system for a significant period of time living and studying cheek by jowl with Singaporean students are better integrated and therefore better able to immerse themselves in our environment," he said.