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Hong Kong vs Singapore: the competition for talent.

Hong Kong and Singapore, these two regions have always attracted entrepreneurs, investors, managers, and elite individuals from around the world to invest and start businesses due to their sophisticated financial mechanisms, strict legal systems, friendly tax rates, and high-quality education. The governments of Hong Kong and Singapore have also been committed to formulating more attractive and precise immigration policies to attract talent. I have lived in both places, so as an immigration expert, I will compare the similarities and differences in immigration policies between the two places to help readers compare and see which is more suitable as a destination for immigrants.  

 
Hongkong vs. Singapore 
 
 

First category of talents: High net worth Investors 

Hong Kong and Singapore are the locations where many large financial institutions put their Asian headquarters, with banks lining the CBD area and a relatively sophisticated financial regulatory system. The personal income tax rate is also relatively low. In recent years, the two places have been secretly competing to win the title of “Asia’s financial center.” Naturally, attracting wealthy individuals to invest locally is a top priority in their immigration policies. 


Singapore has two investment immigration schemes: the Global Investor Programme (GIP) and the Family Office Scheme. GIP is the only program in Singapore that grants direct permanent residency. However, in recent years, due to the high threshold, the number of approvals has not been high. According to the Singapore Economic Development Board, there were approximately 200 approved applications in 2022. However, on March 15, 2023, the Singapore Economic Development Board announced the latest changes to the immigration policy. For the Entrepreneur category, the applicant’s company must have a turnover of at least SGD 200 million and must employ 30 employees (half of whom must be Singaporean) when renewing the visa. Additionally, the applicant must reside in Singapore for half of the time. For the Investor category, the threshold has increased from SGD 2.5 million to SGD 25 million. With a tenfold increase in the threshold, it appears that Singapore is confident in its ability to attract talent. Compared to the above, the Family Office Scheme in Singapore is more friendly. Although the threshold has also increased from the initial SGD 5 million to SGD 20 million, the investment approach is more flexible, and a wide range of investment options, such as stocks and fund management, are possible. However, in terms of immigration, applicants must first obtain an Employment Pass before applying for PR. Globevisa handles over 100 family office applications per year. 


The Hong Kong government announced the re-opening of its investment immigration policy at the beginning of 2023. This program was previously suspended in 2015. It appears that the Hong Kong government is also trying hard to attract investment funds. At present, no detailed information has been released regarding the investment amount, investment approach, or duration of permanent residency. However, based on the history of competition between the two places, the Hong Kong government may refer to Singapore’s policy and issue more competitive application criteria. 


Hong Kong vs Singapore: Unknown.

 

Second category of talents: Entrepreneurs. 

It’s no secret that Singapore and Hong Kong, and probably the entire world, welcome applicants who are entrepreneurs. After all, they are a group that brings employment and pays taxes. The entrepreneur immigration programs in Singapore and Hong Kong are very similar. Application requirements: 

1. Prove that the applicant has a successful business in their home country with years of management experience. 

2. Actions on arrival: register a company, open a bank account, hire employees, and lease an office in Singapore or Hong Kong. 

3. Obtain a work visa: a two-year renewable work visa.
4. Obtain permanent residency: Singapore does not have a specific standard, but usually, it takes about two or more years; Hong Kong is clear that it is after seven years. 

5. Apply for a passport: in Singapore, one can only apply for a passport two years after obtaining permanent residency, and approval standards depend on the overall conditions. 


In Hong Kong, one can apply for a passport just two weeks after obtaining permanent residency, and approval is mostly guaranteed. Globevisa provides end-to-end services for entrepreneurs immigrating to Singapore or Hong Kong, including all the necessary actions on arrival, visa applications for the entire family, and services for renewals, obtaining permanent residency, and citizenship.

 

Third category of talents: Professionals 

For professionals already employed in local companies in Hong Kong or Singapore, there are corresponding work visa application policies in both places. Both require the local company to be in operation for at least one year, have a physical office space, and preferably have local employees and revenue. 

The difference is that Hong Kong also has opportunities for individuals without a job offer from a local company to obtain residency based on their excellent background through a scoring mechanism, known as the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, and its high-end version, the Top Talent Pass Scheme. Graduates from the top global 100 universities, high-paid professionals, and professionals in highly-demand industries are all preferred high-quality applicants by the Hong Kong government. Currently, some senior executives of Globalvisa’s Hong Kong/Singapore offices have also obtained work visas through the professional route. 


Hong Kong vs Singapore: Hong Kong wins a round.

 

Fourth category of talents: Young students 

Both Hong Kong and Singapore have top universities that are ranked among the top 100 in the world, and attracting young people means building the future. Top comprehensive universities, diverse professional choices, good employment opportunities, and competitive salaries also attract students to these destinations. In order to attract these students, universities in both places have many scholarship/funding programs. Even middle-aged people can also choose master and doctoral courses. 


Hong Kong vs. Singapore: Tie.

 

For the governments of both places, attracting talent is an unspoken competition, while for applicants, the choice of immigration destination has a significant impact on future career development, children’s education, and financial planning. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully consider the choice after evaluation by a professional immigration agency. Globevisa Hong Kong and Singapore, which have more than 8 years of history and a team of more than 20 staff members, provide you with full consultation, accompaniment, and reception services for all immigration channels.

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