1 September 2022

On 29 August 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Communications and Information announced four enhancements to Singapore’s work pass framework to better attract top talent and experienced tech professionals in areas of skills shortages and to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent in light of the intensifying competition for talent.

These four enhancements are:

  • New Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass: MOM will introduce a new Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass, named to reflect the qualities the pass holders will bring to Singapore. It is meant for top talent across all sectors. There will be a few routes to apply for the pass, and the pass will be open for applications from 1 January 2023.

Applicants will need to earn a fixed monthly salary of S$30,000 and above, comparable to the top 5% of Employment Pass (“EP”) holders. Individuals with outstanding achievements across the arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and research and academia, can also qualify even if they may not meet the salary criterion. The pass will be a personalised, five-year work pass that allows holders to concurrently start, operate, and work for multiple companies in Singapore at any one time. Their spouses will be able to work on a Letter of Consent. The Pass holders will not be subject to the Fair Consideration Framework (“FCF”) job advertising requirement and the upcoming Complementarity Assessment Framework (“COMPASS”). Pass holders will be asked to notify MOM annually of their professional activities to ensure that they utilise the flexibilities accorded to contribute meaningfully.

  • New benchmark pegged to top 10% of EP holders: MOM will introduce a new benchmark pegged to the top 10% of EP holders. EP applicants of this quality will continue to be exempted from the FCF job advertising requirement and the upcoming COMPASS. They will also continue to be eligible for the Personalised Employment Pass (“PEP”). This benchmark will provide greater clarity and transparency on MOM’s work pass framework for talent. To align to this single benchmark, the exemption bar for the FCF job advertising requirement and COMPASS will be raised from S$20,000 to S$22,500. The salary criterion for the PEP will also be raised to S$22,500. These changes will be implemented from 1 September 2023. MOM will review these thresholds annually against the benchmark, taking into account prevailing economic conditions.
  • For all EP applications, MOM will enable companies to be more responsive to business needs.
    • Shorter FCF job advertising duration: MOM will restore the FCF job advertising duration to 14 days with effect from 1 September 2022. The FCF job advertising duration was increased to 28 days in October 2020 amidst a weak job market to give jobseekers more time to respond to job openings. The labour market has since recovered strongly, and MOM is making this adjustment in view of the tight labour market.
    • Shorter processing time for EP applications: MOM will improve the processing time for all EP applications. Presently, 85% of online EP applications are processed within three weeks. With recent technological upgrades to MOM’s work pass systems, EP applications will be processed, or an update will be given to employers within 10 business days. This will be implemented with immediate effect.
  • Five-year EP option: MOM will offer the option of a five-year EP to experienced professionals filling specific tech occupations on the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List. The first shortage occupation list will be announced in March 2023. Compared to the typical pass duration of two to three years, MOM states that a longer pass duration will give greater certainty to experienced tech professionals as well as businesses in their workforce planning and allow Singapore to anchor tech capabilities while developing the local pipeline.

More details on the four enhancements are set out in the factsheet annexed to the press release.

Support measures for locals

At the same time, Singapore will continue to build its local leadership pipeline by supporting local talent to acquire global and regional experience through programmes like the International Posting Programme, which funds overseas postings for Singaporeans in the financial sector, the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative, which supports companies across sectors to develop local leaders, and the Global Ready Talent Programme, which supports overseas internships.

Under the Forward Singapore exercise, the Empower Pillar on Economy and Jobs will be consulting workers and businesses on how the Government can encourage even more locals to take on regional and global opportunities, including how the Government can reduce barriers that deter locals from taking up overseas stints. This will complement the new Singapore Global Executive Programme that was announced at Budget 2022. More details will be released in due course.

Reference materials

The following are available from the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg: