Singapore to Implement New Points System for Employment Pass Applicants From 2023
Singapore will introduce a new points system for Employment Pass (EP) applicants from 2023, in addition to higher qualifying salary thresholds.
The government hopes that the new system – laid out under the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) – will improve the capacity of Singaporean businesses to select high-quality foreign professionals and ensure workforce diversity.
Future EP applicants must score at least 40 points under the COMPASS system, which are awarded based on four attributes and two bonus criteria.
COMPASS will come into effect for new applicants from September 2023 and for renewal applicants from September 2024.
Increase in Employment Pass qualifying salaries
Under Singapore’s 2022 budget, the government announced an increase to the qualifying minimum salaries for several work permits, primarily the Employment Pass and the S Pass permits.
The qualifying salary threshold for EP applicants has been raised to S$5,000 (US$3,694) from the current S$4,500 (US$3,332). The EP permit is issued to expatriates hired as managers, executives, and skilled professionals in Singapore.
For EP applicants in the financial sector, the minimum salary has also been increased to S$5,500 (US$4,064) from S$5,000 (US$3,694). The increased requirement will be applied to new applicants from September 2022, and in September 2023 for renewal applicants.
How COMPASS works
The COMPASS framework evaluates EP applications on individual and firm-related attributes. These are based on four foundational criteria where the applicant earns points on whether they meet or exceed expectations.
Singapore COMPASS Point System
Points for each foundational criterion
Does not meet expectations
Applicants can also earn additional points on two bonus criteria – one for candidates in jobs where there is a skills shortage, and second, for firms that engage in innovation and internationalization activities.
40 points are required to pass COMPASS.
The scoring system is highlighted in the following table.
PMET: Professionals, managers, executives, and technicians.
The skills bonus is reduced to +10 if the share of the candidate’s nationality is one-third or higher among the firm’s PMETs.
Small firms with fewer than 25 PMET employees score 10 points on C3 and C4 by default.
Case study 1
Company A meets all four foundational criteria.
Company A, a marketing consultancy firm in the professional services sector, has an EP candidate with a monthly salary at the 70th percentile of local PMET salaries in the sector. 10 points is given under the ‘salary’ attribute. Further, the applicant holds a degree-equivalent qualification, resulting in another 10 points.
The candidate’s nationality currently forms 20 percent of the company’s PMET employees, awarding the applicant 10 points.
Finally, the company has a local PMET share at the 40th percentile, awarding them 10 points.
As such, the total points obtained by Company A is 40, and the candidate is eligible for the EP permit.
Case Study 2
Company B that is weak on the foundational criterion but earns points on the bonus criterion
Company B, a software company in the tech sector, has an EP candidate with a monthly salary at the 95th percentile of local PMET salaries in the sector. As such, 20 points is awarded.
The candidate (an artificial intelligence engineer) holds a degree-equivalent qualification, resulting in 10 points.
The candidate’s nationality forms 40 percent of the company’s PMET employees, meaning they are awarded no points. Finally, the company has a local PMET share at the 10th percentile, meaning the candidate will secure no points for this attribute.
However, the candidate is awarded 10 points under the skills bonus if their qualifications fill a shortage occupation in Singapore. They are not awarded 20 points for the skills bonus as the share of the applicant’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs is more than one-third.
Who is exempted from COMPASS?
The candidate is exempted from COMPASS if they fulfill the following conditions:
- Earning a fixed salary of at least S$20,000 (US$14,667) per month;
- Filling a role on a short-term basis, one month or less; or
- Applying as an overseas intra-corporate transferee under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement or a free trade agreement Singapore is a party to.
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