Singapore Introduces New Work Visa Rules Aimed at Attracting Foreign Talent
Singapore has introduced new work visa rules to strengthen its appeal as a global hub for foreign talent. Among the new changes is the introduction of the Overseas Network & Expertise Pass, which allows high-earners and achievers to live in Singapore without the need to secure employment first.
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Communications and Information, announced four enhancement schemes to the country’s work pass framework to strengthen its appeal as a global hub for foreign talent.
One of the major enhancements is the introduction of the Overseas Network & Expertise Pass, which allows high-earners and achievers to live in Singapore without the need to secure employment first. Applications will open from January 1, 2023, and is applicable to top talent in all sectors.
Other enhancements include providing a five-year Employment Pass (EP) for experienced professionals filling specific tech occupations as stated on the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) Shortage Occupation List (SOL). An EP is normally valid for between two to three years.
COMPASS is a new points system for EP applicants – starting in September 2023 and for renewal applicants from September 2024. Future EP applicants must score at least 40 points under the COMPASS system, which are awarded based on four attributes and two bonus criteria.
As a country with a relatively small talent pool and no natural resources, Singapore is fiercely competing with other nations to attract skilled workers to power their post-pandemic economic recoveries. The United Arab Emirates, for example, has issued a Golden Visa scheme to attract talent in the field of medicine, science and technology, and culture and art. The visa lasts for 10 years. Further, the United Kingdom introduced its Global Talent Visa scheme in 2020, which offers a five-year UK visa for promising individuals in the fields of science and research, digital technology, and the arts.
What are the requirements to obtain the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass?
Applicants for the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass will need to earn least S$30,000 (US$21,300) per month although individuals with outstanding achievements in the field of research and academia, science and technology, sports, and arts and culture, can also qualify even if they do not meet the qualifying salary.
Duration and work criteria
The Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass allows the holder to concurrently work, start, and operate multiple companies in Singapore at any one time. Moreover, their spouse will also be able to work through a Letter of Consent with the MOM.
Applicants with no recent history of working in Singapore will need to prove that they have worked or will be working for a company with a market capitalization of at least US$500 million or with annual revenue of at least US$200 million.
Not subject to the Fair Consideration Framework requirement
The pass holder will also not be subject to the Fair Consideration Framework job advertising requirement in addition to the upcoming COMPASS. Under the FCF, employers who want to submit EP applications must first advertise the job position on MyCareersFuture.sg to promote labor market transparency and fair employment practices.
Revision of the salary benchmark
The salary threshold for the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) has been raised from S$12,000 (US$8,541) (for existing EP holders) and S$18,000 (US$12,800) (for overseas professionals) to S$22,500 (US$16,013) per month.
Further, an EP applicant earning at least S$22,500 (US$16,013) will be exempt from:
- FCF job advertising requirement; and
- COMPASS checks.
Reduction in the FCF advertisement duration
To help businesses in Singapore be more responsive to their human resources needs, the government has restored the FCF advertisement duration to 14 days as of September 1, 2022. The duration was increased to 28 days in October 2020 to give local job seekers more opportunities to respond to job openings amid the pandemic.
Moreover, the government will quicken the processing time for all EP applications from the current three weeks to 10 business days.
The new 5-year Employment Pass
The government will offer a new five-year EP to experienced professionals filling tech occupations as listed on the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List from September 1, 2023. The duration is longer than the average EP of between two to three years.
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