Singapore adds new business immigration pathways and relaxes various requirements

In a press conference on 29 August 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (“MoM”) announced that it would make four enhancements to the existing work pass framework in Singapore in a bid to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent. In a nutshell, these changes create a more complex business immigration environment yet simplify matters in some ways. We have prepared a summary of these changes as a guide for global mobility and HR teams and assist with business planning.

The key changes of note and effective dates are set out below.

Singapore adds new business immigration pathways and relaxes various requirements

Reduced FCF[1] job advertisement period

From 1 September 2022, companies only need to advertise a role on the MyCareersFuture for 14 days, which means that recruitment processes culminating in the hiring of a foreign candidate can move more expeditiously. Companies are still required to consider Singaporeans fairly for the role in question.

The ONE Pass

From 1 January 2023, foreigners who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 within the last year (or show that they will earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000); or applicants with outstanding achievements across the arts and culture, sports, science and technology and research and academic fields will be eligible to apply for the ONE Pass. Applicants must also show that they are working for a company with a market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or annual revenue of at least US$200 million.

The ONE Pass is a brand-new business immigration pathway; its key attractiveness lies in its longer duration and the ability to work for several employers at a time. We thought it useful to compare the three business immigration pathways under the MoM for executives below.

ONE Pass

Employment Pass

Personalised Employment Pass

5 years

Generally 2 – 3 years

Up to 3 years.
The Pass is renewable.

The Pass is renewable.

 The Pass cannot be renewed.
Pass holder can work for more than one employer at any time.

Pass holder cannot work for more than one employer at any time.

Pass holder can work for more than one employer at any time.

Not subject to the Fair Consideration Framework (“FCF”) job advertising requirements and the upcoming COMPASS assessment.

This potentially reduces the time taken to onboard a ONE Pass holder in an organisation.

Subject to the FCF job advertising requirements and the upcoming COMPASS assessment. Subject to the FCF job advertising requirements and the upcoming COMPASS assessment.

Spouses will be allowed to work  in Singapore with a Letter of Consent.

Spouses on dependant’s pass may only work in Singapore with a Letter of Consent if they are considered a sole proprietor, partner or director with at least 30% shareholding of an ACRA-registered business.

If they do not fall within such criteria, they will need to obtain Work Passes in order to work in Singapore.  

Spouses on dependant’s pass may only work in Singapore with a Letter of Consent if they are considered a sole proprietor, partner or director with at least 30% shareholding of an ACRA-registered business.

If they do not fall within such criteria, they will need to obtain Work Passes in order to work in Singapore.

5-year Employment Pass to experienced professionals in specific tech roles

The MoM also intends to offer the option of a 5-year EP to experienced professionals filling specific tech occupations on the upcoming COMPASS Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”)[2], giving greater certainty to tech professionals and businesses in their workforce planning.

Applicants must fill a role under the SOL, earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $10,500 (older candidates will require a higher qualifying salary), and pass COMPASS (including a score of at least 10 points on the Diversity criterion).

This new pathway will be of significant interest to tech companies as qualifying under this new pathway means a more stable workforce and a more attractive HR proposition when hiring tech talents from abroad.

New Benchmark pegged to top 10% of EP Holders

EP Applicants who are pegged to the top 10% of EP holders (earning a fixed monthly salary of $22,500 and above) will continue to be exempted from the FCF job advertising requirements and the upcoming COMPASS point system. Such applicants will also continue to be eligible for PEP. For alignment, jobs need to pay $22,500 per month in order to be exempt from FCF job advertising requirements. The salary criterion for PEP will also be raised to S$22,500.

Access our guide here

Connect with us

Bird & Bird’s team of Immigration Counsel will be pleased to chat with you on any questions you may have on these questions and help you work through your global mobility strategy in Singapore. Our Immigration Counsel have the requisite cultural empathy and regulatory awareness to help you achieve your workforce goals.

This article is produced by our Singapore office, Bird & Bird ATMD LLP. It does not constitute as legal advice and is intended to provide general information only. Information in this article is accurate as of 31 August 2022.

[1] The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) sets out requirements for all employers in Singapore to consider the workforce in Singapore fairly for job opportunities. Under the FCF framework, employers submitting Employment Pass and S Pass applications must first advertise on MyCareersFuture and fairly consider all candidates before making such applications.

[2] The Ministry of Manpower has indicated that the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List (SOL) would be announced in March 2023. (Source: https://www.mom.gov.sg/faq/compass/how-will-the-shortage-occupation-list-for-ep-applications-on-compass-be-identified)

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