Transiting into Singaporean identity: Immigration and naturalisation policy


  • Mathews Mathew National University of Singapore
  • Debbie Soon National University of Singapore



naturalisation, immigration, integration, Singapore


Debates in Singapore about immigration and naturalisation policy have escalated substantially since 2008 when the government allowed an unprecedentedly large number of immigrants into the country. This essay will discuss immigration and naturalisation policy in Singapore and the tensions that have been evoked, and how these policies are a key tool in regulating the optimal composition and size of the population for the state’s imperatives. It will demonstrate that although the state has, as part of its broader economic and manpower planning policy to import labour for economic objectives, it seeks to retain only skilled labour with an exclusive form of citizenship.  Even as the Singapore state has made its form of citizenship even more exclusive by reducing the benefits that non-citizens receive, its programmes for naturalising those who make the cut to become citizens which include the recently created Singapore Citizenship Journey (SCJ) is by no means burdensome from a comparative perspective. This paper examines policy discourse and the key symbols and narratives provided at naturalisation events and demonstrates how these are used to evoke the sense of the ideal citizen among new Singaporeans.


Author Biographies

Mathews Mathew, National University of Singapore

Senior Research Fellow

Institute of Policy Studies

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Debbie Soon, National University of Singapore

Research Associate

Institute of Policy Studies




How to Cite

Mathew, M., & Soon, D. (2015). Transiting into Singaporean identity: Immigration and naturalisation policy. Migration Letters, 13(1), 33–48.