Singapore’s New Work Visa Rules to Attract Top Foreign Workers

Singapore is the latest country to join the bid to attract top foreign professionals by introducing new visa regulations that include expats staying for five years and allowing their spouses to work in the country. Aside from strengthening its international labour in the wake of the pandemic, Singapore’s new initiatives to overhaul its work pass regulations are devised to loosen the city-state’s tight labour market and attract more foreign investments. 

Here are several important details you should know about Singapore’s work pass enhancements for foreign professionals:  


Employment Pass Requirements (All EP applications)

There are two new changes that employers and applicants should take note of in their EP application. First, the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) job advertisement duration was set back to 14 days from 28 days. This will take effect on September 1 (Thursday) to speed up the hiring process while continuing the FCF’s objective of fair job opportunities for all candidates. Second, all EP applications should be processed within 10 business days. Or, applicants should be given an update within the same period. 

Overseas Network and Expertise Pass (Top 5% of EP holders)

The Overseas Network Expertise Pass is assigned to top talent in business, science and technology, arts, sports, academia, and research. The application for this signature pass will open on 1 January 2023.

The criteria includes:

1.Candidates with existing work passes and overseas candidates who:

  • currently earn at least S$30,000 within the last year, or
  • will earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 with their future employer based in Singapore.Individuals with exceptional achievements in the mentioned fields who don’t meet the required minimum salary may also apply. 

2. Individuals with exceptional achievements in the mentioned fields who don’t meet the required minimum salary may also apply. 

In addition, those who qualify for the Overseas Network and Expertise Pass can work for multiple employers and don’t need to reapply for a new pass if they change jobs. Spouses of ONE pass holders can also work in Singapore upon acquiring a Letter of Consent.


Work pass salary benchmark for alignment and exemption (Top 10% of EP holders)

Starting 1 September 2023, the salary criteria for FCF job advertising exemption, the Complementary Assessment Framework (COMPASS) and Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) will be aligned to $22,500. This includes individuals presently earning more than $20,000. Meanwhile, existing EP holders with a minimum monthly salary of $12,000 and overseas candidates earning at least $18,000 monthly can apply for PEP. 


Option of 5-year EP for tech professionals with skills in shortage

Experienced tech professionals with skills in shortage are encouraged to apply for the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List (SOL) starting on September 1, 2023. According to the Ministry of Manpower, candidates may opt for a five-year duration EP and should have at least a minimum monthly salary of $10,500. They should also score 10 points on Criterion 3 (Diversity) to pass COMPASS.

What is COMPASS? COMPASS is a point-based framework that enables employers to select top-notch foreign professionals based on a set of individual and firm-related attributes such as the candidate’s qualifications, salary relative to local norms, and if he or she improves the nationality diversity in the firm. 


Global Talent Shortage

The rapid demand for global talent is making governments modify their visa rules for foreign workers. Major financial hubs such as the UK, Germany, UAE, Australia and Hong Kong have special visas for global talent. Recent studies about the evolving workforce revealed that 75% of companies have talent shortages and difficulty in hiring. By 2030, more than 85 million jobs will be vacant because there aren’t enough skilled workers to do the job. 

With very few natural resources to depend on for economic growth, Singapore highly relies on talent, especially international labour, to continue luring in and retaining foreign investments. Aside from maintaining its status as one of Asia’s strong financial centres, Singapore is positioning itself to be a global hub for top talent.



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