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First drop in EP approvals since 2003

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The number of Employment Passes (EPs) being granted to high-skilled foreigners has dropped for the first time in almost a decade.

As at December 2012, there were 173,800 high-skilled EP holders, a drop from 175,400 in 2011. The number of EP applications has been on the rise from 99,200 since 2007.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said this is partly due to the stricter regulations surrounding applications for EPs.

During last year’s National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said those seeking an EP will be subjected to higher salary levels and tighter educational criteria.

As of the start of this year, the qualifying salary for Q1, the lowest EP level, was raised from S$2,800 to S$3,000 and for Q2, the increase was from S$4,000 to S$4,500. The qualifying salary for Q3 remained set at S$8,000.

The number of mid-skilled S-pass applications, however, went up slightly from 113,900 to 142,400 in 2012.

Tan said those figures are still a “cause for concern” and the local government is still reviewing the S-pass structure, The Straits Times reported.

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