The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) evaluates every application for Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) or Singapore Citizenship (SC) by stateless persons based on a range of criteria, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Tuesday (2 Feb).
The Minister said this in a written response to questions raised by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Christopher de Souza.
Mr de Souza had asked about the number of stateless residents living in Singapore as of December 2020, and whether more can be done to assist the stateless persons to apply for Singapore citizenship and permanent residency.
In his response, Mr Shanmugam said that there were 1,109 stateless persons living in Singapore as of 30 November 2020, adding that 76 per cent of them are PRs who enjoy various benefits accorded to them such as in healthcare, housing, and education.
He went on to say that the ICA evaluates every application submitted by the stateless person based on a range of criteria including length of stay in Singapore, family profile, economic contributions, education qualifications, age, and family ties to Singaporeans.
Applicant’s circumstances, including the reasons behind the person’s statelessness, are also taken into consideration, the Minister added.
“For example, some may have chosen to give up their foreign citizenship, while others may have lost their citizenship not of their volition, for example, deprived by their country of birth for offences committed.
“Some others who were born in Singapore but not eligible for SC at birth, as their parents were not Singapore Citizens and did not obtain citizenship for their children from their home country,” he explained.
Brief background on being stateless in Singapore
Stateless people mainly fall into three categories: Singapore PRs who have lost their foreign citizenship, children born to foreign nationals who are not recognised in their home countries, and people born in pre-independence Singapore who are unable to verify their country of birth.
To illustrate further on what Minister Shanmugam had stated regarding the range of criteria, TOC understands that those who apply for citizenship are assessed on several factors, such as whether they can contribute to society or validate their intention to reside in Singapore on a permanent basis.
It is noteworthy that stateless persons are not treated as exceptional cases.
Besides that, they also have to prove that they are able to support themselves financially along with their dependants, while exhibiting good conduct. This depends on their employment record, National Service (NS) performance, and whether or not they have a criminal record.