Foreigners who plan to work in Singapore require an Employment Pass before they may begin doing so. The most recent changes to laws governing the issuing of Employment Passes were made to better facilitate the entry of foreigners believed to be more able to contribute to Singapore's economy.
Over the years, the requirements for application of Singapore Employment Passes have undergone a few changes. The regulatory requirements are slightly more stringent than normal to account for employees who are better able to contribute to Singapore economy would be given the opportunity of employment pass approval. There are a few categories from which foreigners who are interested in seeking for jobs in Singapore can apply for in terms of employment passes. Employment passes are grouped according to the skill set, experience and qualifications of the applicants. There are three main categories for highly skilled professionals who wish to seek employment opportunities in Singapore.
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The Employment Pass (EP) requires applicants to have a viable job offer and minimum salary of $4,500 per month. Employers apply for this pass and the Singapore Employment Pass is only valid if the employee is still working in the same company. Another option for skilled professionals is the Personalised Employment Pass. Those who have already secured Employment Pass in Singapore can then apply for the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) if they meet the requirements. Qualified overseas professionals can also lodge an application for PEP. PEP holders are not tied to any one organisation and thus, have the ability to switch jobs. However, it is a condition that they are only allowed 6 months between jobs in order to evaluate options. The third employment visa is the Singapore EntrePass which is highly suitable for business owners who wish to invest and register businesses or looking for business opportunities in Singapore.
Since December 2012, the main change has been in the criteria of the Personalised Employment Pass. These changes make it even more imperative that only deserving and highly skilled professionals are able to obtain approvals for this particular pass. The last drawn monthly salary requirements have been increased to $12,000 (for Employment Pass holders currently working in Singapore) and $18,000 (for overseas foreigners who are looking to gain employment in Singapore via the PEP). The biggest change is the fact that employees now need to have a minimum annual salary of $144,000 in order to be eligible for this employment pass. This is a big jump as the previous requirement for annual salary was $34,000. The validity of the PEP has also been reduced from 5 years to 3 years. However, PEP holders are still allowed to bring with them close family members into Singapore.
These changes obviously would have a ripple effect on foreign investment and local businesses. Local businesses might find it slightly more difficult to recruit workers from other countries. Their only way around this change would be to ensure that the salary requirements are met in order to fulfil the conditions of the employment pass. Foreign investors might also feel put off by the fact that they would need to meet so many requirements before they are allowed to work in the country. However, it should be noted that the conditions are in tandem with the requirements for highly skilled positions anyway so it should not be a problem for anyone who wishes to remain and work in Singapore for the long term. It is worth noting that these employment passes only affect international business owners who will be setting up base in order to work from Singapore.
It is a requirement under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act that local employers who wish to recruit foreign employees would need to have valid work visas prior to their commencement date. Foreigners who wish to travel into Singapore for a short period of time for business purposes are not required to apply for work visas. However, they are then liable to inform the Ministry of Manpower via e-notification of their intention to travel into Singapore for specific purposes. For further information, business owners are advised to contact the Ministry of Manpower via e-mail or through appointment to seek out their services in order to obtain more information. Alternatively, there are numerous professional consultancy services which would be able to provide information and feedback on the best possible way to apply for the different types of employment passes.
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