Singapore introduces work pass for top talent in all sectors; applications open on 1 Jan 2023

Singapore introduces work pass for top talent in all sectors; applications open on 1 Jan 2023


Applicants will need to earn a fixed monthly salary of S$30,000 and above, or be officially recognised with outstanding achievements across various areas.

Singapore's Manpower (MOM) Minister Dr. Tan See Leng has, on Monday (29 August 2022), announced a new work pass – the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass (ONE Pass) – for top talent across all sectors.

This personalised five-year work pass will allow holders to concurrently start, operate, and work for multiple companies in Singapore at any one time. Further, holders of the pass will not be subjected to the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) job advertising requirement, as well as the recently announced Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) framework.

Spouses of the pass holders will also be able to work in Singapore if they have successfully received a letter of consent from the Singapore Government.

As part of the criteria, applicants will need to earn a fixed monthly salary of S$30,000 and above, which is comparable to the salary drawn by the top 5% of the current Employment Pass (EP) holders. Alternatively, individuals officially recognised with outstanding achievements across the arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and research and academia may also be considered for the application of the pass.

Pass holders will be asked to notify MOM annually of their professional activities, to ensure that they utilise the flexibilities accorded to contribute meaningfully.

Applications for the ONE Pass will be open from 1 January 2023.

Exemptions pegged to top 10% of EP Holders

In the same vein, MOM also announced special exemptions pegged to the top 10% of EP holders, and adjustments to the FCF and the soon-to-be-implemented COMPASS framework.

Qualified persons will be exempted from the FCF job advertising and COMPASS requirements, as well as be eligible for the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) — an employment pass reserved for high-earning individuals. It is not tied to any employer, and it offers greater flexibility than an ordinary EP.

Currently, EP holders earning at least S$12,000 and overseas candidates earning at least S$18,000 are eligible for the PEP.

This newly-introduced 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.

FCF job advertising duration and EP processing time to be reduced

In further updates, the Government will restore the FCF job advertising duration from 28 days to 14 days, with effect from 1 September 2022. MOM had previously extended the advertising duration when the labour market was weakened from the onset of COVID-19.

Processing time for all EP applications will also be reduced from approximately three weeks to 10 days. As shared in the release, 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, effective immediately

As part of the last update,  the Government will offer the option of a five-year EP to foreigners who fill specific tech occupations on the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List. Applicants will need to have a salary of at least S$10,500, and they should also pass COMPASS and score at least 10 points on the diversity criterion.

According to Minister Tan, Singapore continues to face a global shortage of experienced tech professionals, and the Government believes that this enhancement will provide greater certainty for eligible professionals considering relocating to Singapore.

NTUC's Assistant Secretary-General, Patrick Tay, shared a statement following the announcements: "NTUC supports the EP enhancements in view of Singapore’s needs for top talents to complement our local workforce. That being said, we need to ensure that there are safeguards in place to let Singaporeans have fair opportunities to [secure] jobs; level the playing field for our PMEs, and keep our Singaporean Core intact and strong."

He added: "In the same vein, I trust the Government will provide clear guidance on the definition of top talents, perhaps disclosing a list of reputable companies that employ top talents and roles can be shared externally for added accountability. Measures should also be in place to ensure that knowledge transfer and sharing from top foreign professionals to Singaporeans are integrated to facilitate the development of Singaporean talent."

Lead image / Shutterstock

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