Charge higher fees to reflect value of PR, citizenship

I applaud the Government's efforts to moderate the number of immigrants to ensure Singapore's continued attractiveness as a place to work and live in.

However, I understand that Singapore will always need immigrants.

I suggest that we increase immigration fees to ensure that permanent residency (PR) applicants genuinely want it, and bear a larger cost of processing their cases.

Currently, PR applications cost $100. This does not fully reflect the benefits to the applicant or the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's (ICA) processing costs.

Fees for PR equivalents in developed countries in the West are much higher.

For instance, in Britain, it costs £2,297 (S$4,014) for an Indefinite Leave To Remain.

Still, applicants pay the fee because they value the benefits of the status.

Keeping such fees low results in the Singapore Government receiving more applications than it intends to grant.

Why not increase the PR application fees steadily over the years, maybe aiming for a few hundred dollars, and charge per individual, rather than a flat fee per application?

This will cut down the number of applicants who are just trying their luck, and reduce the ICA's costs and workload.

The same can be done for citizenship application fees.

The additional revenue could be used to boost the Government's resources or reduce fees for citizens.

Ernest Chen Zhengkai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Charge higher fees to reflect value of PR, citizenship'. Print Edition | Subscribe