The Corporate Immigration Review: Singapore

Introduction to the immigration framework

The primary legislation determining Singapore foreign manpower is the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (Chapter 91A) (EFMA) and the Immigration Act. Subsidiary legislation includes the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations – Conditions of Work Pass, the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Levy) Order 2011, the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Security Measures for Work Place) Notification, the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Pass Exemptions) Notifications 2 and 4, the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Bail and Personal Bond) Regulations, the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, and the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Infringement and Appeal Board Proceedings) Regulations 2013.

Following the introduction of the Fair Consideration Framework in 2014, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) together with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) promotes the adoption of fair, responsible and progressive employment practices, which directly impacts the MOM's review of Work Pass applications. TAFEP was established together with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) in 2007. Elements of the TAFEP Guidelines in relation to the Fair Consideration Framework that have a particular bearing on corporate immigration are those requiring employers to not discriminate based on race, gender, age, religion or marital status during the advertisement, recruitment and selection process. While these remain guidelines, the importance attached to these processes by MOM can result in Work Pass privileges being curtailed for those employers considered to adopt discriminatory practices.

i The immigration authorities

The MOM is the government ministry that is responsible for the development and implementation of labour policies related to the Singapore workforce. In this capacity, MOM retains authority to oversee matters relating to corporate immigration, and consequently, the issuance of relevant passes including an Employment Pass to foreign professionals.

International treaty obligations

Singapore is a member and participant in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Scheme (APEC). The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) facilitates pre-cleared and short-term entry into participating member countries by pre-approved business travellers. Nineteen economies are fully participating members of the ABTC: Australia, Brunei, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The United States and Canada are transitional economies in the ABTC scheme. ABTC holders from transitional economies do not have pre-clearance to fully participating economies and must present any visas or other required entry documents to the destination economy but may use 'fast-track' immigration lanes at participating airports.

Approved ABTC applications are currently granted for five years, or up to the validity of the passport, whichever is shorter.

The year in review

The year from 2021 to 2022 was again exceptional because of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic and the stringent measures that the Singapore government took to control the spread of the virus. This included a strict approach to entry to the country along with quarantine (Stay at Home Notice) requirements for most foreign visitors. Pre-departure covid tests and Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) were enforced. Prior entry approvals were required even for long-term Employment Pass holders.

The good news is that the outlook for travel into Singapore has improved considerably. From 31 March 2022, under the new Vaccinated Travel Framework, fully vaccinated travellers from any country or region are allowed to enter Singapore quarantine-free, if they have not visited any countries or regions on a 'Restricted Category' in the preceding seven days. Entry approvals and dedicated VTL flights have been removed.

Despite the semi-closure of the border, immigration policy developments were significant. They included increases in the Employment Pass and S Pass qualifying salaries. The Ministry of Manpower also announced the gradual introduction of a new points-based evaluation framework called the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).

i Business visitors

Singapore enables some foreign nationals to enter as a business visitor without a visa through the grant of a Short-Term Visit Pass (STVP) issued upon arrival in Singapore.

Those foreigners holding travel documents that are expressly excluded from this programme, and require a visa to enter Singapore, are currently listed by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) as: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, the Commonwealth of Independent States (stated as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, North Korea, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Yemen, Hong Kong Document of Identity, Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Travel, Palestinian Authority Passports, a temporary passport issued by the United Arab Emirates, and Refugee Travel Documents issued by Middle Eastern countries.

The period of stay granted is subject to the discretion of the reviewing ICA officer at the point of entry. The typical period of stay granted ranges from 30–90 days; however, in some cases, this may be as short as 14 days.

ii Business activities

A business visitor may typically engage in limited activities such as attending company meetings, exploring business opportunities, attending corporate retreats or meetings with business partners, attending workshops, seminars and conferences as a participant, or exhibitions as a trade visitor.

Work activities or paid employment under a contract of service or contract for services are expressly forbidden without a relevant Work Pass.

iii Work Pass Exemptions

MOM enables certain defined activities to be carried out for a limited time without a Work Pass. This category is referred to as a Work Pass Exemption (WPE). Eligible WPE activities require notification to MOM on arrival in Singapore and require a valid STVP issued by the ICA for the duration of the activity. The maximum duration of WPE activities is up to 90 days in a calendar year (this maximum number of days can be performed over any number of visits to Singapore; for example, three visits of 30 days). A WPE notification is separate to any specific legal requirements in Singapore (for example, the registration requirements to practise in Singapore for specific professions). It is an offence to commence work under the WPE before notification to the MOM.

The 11 listed categories of WPE activities are: arbitration or mediation services, exhibitions, journalism, judicial or legal duties in Singapore International Commercial Court, junket activities, location filming and fashion shows, performances, specialised services related to a new plant, operations or equipment, seminars and conferences, sports, and tour facilitation. Certain specific restrictions apply to each category; however, a general provision is that an activity must not relate to either religious belief or religion, race or community generally, or a cause related to or directed towards a political end.

Business visitors may attend training courses or workshops without further notification to MOM. A business visitor who is a trainer or speaker at a training course or workshop must notify MOM for a WPE or obtain a Miscellaneous Work Pass. On-the-job training requires a Work Pass.

iv Immigration compliance and illegal working

The MOM is authorised to carry out compliance inspections of employers at any time. Employers must be mindful of the need to ensure compliance, as the risks associated with non-compliance are significant.

The EFMA sets out the criminal offences relating to illegal working. These include illegal employment by an employer, a foreign worker working without a valid pass, employment otherwise in accordance with Work Pass conditions, obstruction of an employment inspector and providing false information to the controller of Work Passes.

The MOM is permitted through the EFMA to send an Employment Inspector to the premises of an employer to verify immigration compliance in relation to its foreign employees.

The penalty for employing a foreign employee without a valid Work Pass can include a fine between S$5,000 and S$30,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both. For subsequent convictions, a mandatory imprisonment and a fine between S$10,000 and S$30,000 may be imposed.

Employer sponsorship

The process of application to the MOM for the relevant Work Pass requires submission of all relevant corporate details relating to the employer. An additional system of registration of employers is not required in Singapore for these purposes.

Employers of foreign nationals have various reporting duties to ensure continuing immigration compliance for each foreign employee. This includes notification and updating MOM of a change of address, notification of any salary reduction during the term of the Work Pass, and cancellation of the Work Pass upon termination of employment.

i Upskilling the resident labour market

The importance of upskilling local workers is a key priority for the Singapore government. Many government initiatives and employer incentives have been launched in recent years to upskill local workers (in particular, older members of the workforce). Of note is the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP). The CTP is a flagship initiative designed to improve what the government terms 'local-foreign workforce complementarity' by facilitating the transfer of skills from foreign specialists to locals. Funding support through the CTP can include salary and training support for foreign and local specialists, and Singaporean trainees on overseas attachments.

While participation in such schemes is strongly encouraged where possible, it is not mandatory. However, employers who apply for Employment Passes to hire foreign nationals will be assessed on their company profile, and their ratio of foreign to local employees. Despite no formal quota being in place, companies with a high ratio of foreign staff and who are not considered to be demonstrating sufficient willingness to develop the local workforce may be placed on the MOM Watchlist and have their ability to apply for Employment Passes curtailed.

ii Skills development levy

The Skills Development Levy (SDL) is a compulsory levy that employers must pay for all employees working in Singapore, regardless of whether they are local or foreign. The SDL is paid into the Skills Development Fund (SDF) and administrated by the Skills Future Singapore Agency. The SDF is used to support workforce upgrading programmes and to provide training grants for employees under the National Continuing Education Training system.

iii Skilled occupations

The relevant legislation in Singapore does not set out a list of skilled occupations that may be filled specifically by foreign nationals. However, the CTP initiative referred to above is designed to facilitate the transfer of capabilities that are lacking or in short supply in Singapore. The scheme will assess the merit of each application and the potential impact of individual companies on the broader industry sector. Successful applicants will receive salary and training support for both foreign and local trainers, as well as local trainees.

Formal exemptions for occupations in short supply in certain sectors do not exist. However, strategic skills in demand are recognised by various government schemes and government agencies and would be a factor taken into consideration during the assessment of such Work Pass application for a relevant position.

iv Quotas

No express quota exists for the Employment Pass category of Work Pass designed for foreigners engaging in managerial, executive or specialised jobs. However, companies are required to open available job openings to the local market first (unless exempted) before sourcing for talent outside Singapore.

A foreign worker quota (and related levy) does exist for the S Pass category designed for mid-level skilled professionals and for Work Permits for skilled and unskilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector.

The criteria for an Employment Pass have been tightened in recent years and the overall profile of an employer and its diversity of local citizen employees contrasted with foreign employees will be subject to assessment during the MOM's individual review of an application. An employer's adherence to the Fair Consideration Framework as set out by TAFEP and its related Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices will be taken into consideration. These promote the adoption of fair, responsible and progressive employment practices with the encouragement of employers to not discriminate based on race, gender, age, religion or marital status during the advertisement, recruitment and selection process. Failure to demonstrate adequate adherence to these Guidelines can result in Work Pass privileges being curtailed by the MOM for those employers considered to hold discriminatory practices.

The quota number in force in relation to an S Pass for mid-level skilled foreigners is currently capped at 10 per cent in the services sector and 18 per cent in other sectors, namely manufacturing, construction, process and marine shipyard (reduced to 15 per cent on 1 January 2023 for the construction, process and marine shipyard sectors). Work Permit quotas for blue-collar workers vary according to nationality and industry sector.

The demonstration of language proficiency is not a formal requirement.

v Medical

It is not standard practice for an Employment Pass applicant to be required to undergo a medical examination before being issued an Employment Pass. However, following In-Principle Approval of an application, the individual must sign a declaration that they have not suffered from, or are not suffering from, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or tuberculosis, or are not infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In relation to S Pass and Work Permit applications, each applicant must undergo a medical examination following In-Principle Approval of the pass and before issuance of the actual S Pass or Work Permit.

Foreigners are not entitled to free public medical services in Singapore. Employers can elect whether to provide medical insurance for its Employment Pass holders.

Employers of S Pass holders must buy and maintain medical insurance with coverage of at least S$15,000 per year and cover inpatient care and day surgery for the duration of their employment. The same provisions apply for employers of Work Permit holders with the additional requirement that hospital bills for conditions that may not be work related are covered.

vi Secondments

An Employment Pass holder is understood to be performing work at the stated premises of the sponsoring employer. In circumstances where an employee is required to attend a client site to perform duties directly attributable to the delivery of contracted services between the parties, this is generally permissible, subject to the employee continuing to be subject to the employment and supervision of its employing and sponsoring company.

The MOM appreciates that companies are increasingly turning to virtual offices as more employees are on flexible work arrangements. The minimum requirement is for companies to have a fixed correspondence address for audit and mailing purposes.

The MOM does not dictate the working arrangements of work permit holders. They are hence permitted to work from home if required.

Investors, skilled migrants and entrepreneurs

The Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is a self-sponsored pass category that affords the permit holder greater job flexibility. Overseas-based foreign professionals must demonstrate a last drawn salary of at least S$18,000 (within the last six months) to be considered for the permit. Existing permit holders in Singapore may also apply if they earn a minimum of S$12,000.

There are several requirements to maintain the PEP, which is granted for a fixed period of three years. For instance, the permit holder must not be unemployed for a period of six consecutive months. They are also required to report earnings of at least S$144,000 per year, starting from the year following their attainment of the permit.

PEP holders are also restricted from conducting entrepreneurial activities (including but not limited to holding directorship in any company) and from working on a freelance basis.

In 2021, the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) and the MOM introduced the Tech.Pass, which targets tech entrepreneurs, leaders and experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies. This aligns with the government's overall aim to invest in the development of its tech ecosystem.

Tech.Pass provides the permit holders with the ability to dictate their activities in Singapore without the need to secure a job with a company. They are free to start and operate a business or serve as investor, employee or consultant in one or more Singapore-based companies. With the Tech.Pass, permit holders are also able to act as mentors to tech start-ups or lecture at local universities.

There were only 500 slots for the Tech.Pass available when it was first launched in January 2021. The permit is valid for an initial period of two years, with the option to renew for two more. Thereafter, the individual is required to either attain another work visa or secure Permanent Residency status should they wish to remain in the country.

Holders of employment passes, PEPs, EntrePasses and S passes may apply for permanent residence after working in Singapore for about two years. The usual processing time is about six months and the adjudication process is highly discretionary.

i Remote working

Foreign nationals are only permitted to work remotely without the need for a standard work permit if their activities do not involve other Singapore-based or Singapore-registered clients. They are strictly prohibited from reporting to clients' offices and must ensure they are contractually employed by an overseas employer without any local presence.

If they can satisfy all the conditions stipulated, they may proceed to work remotely but are obliged to confirm in advance their tax obligations. They must also ensure they have valid rights to reside in Singapore.

ii Investment or establishment work permits

There is no special category of Work Pass for foreign investors. Eligible foreign entrepreneurs who wish to set up a new business in Singapore may qualify for an MOM-issued EntrePass, subject to strict criteria. Options also exist for foreign investors wishing to apply for Permanent Residence through available investment schemes; however, this is subject to strict investment type and eligibility criteria.

iii Temporary work permits

The Training Employment Pass is available for eligible foreign students or foreign trainees wishing to undergo training in Singapore. It is granted for up to three months and is non-renewable. Qualifying criteria includes that the training attachment in Singapore must be part of the course of study, students must be studying at a recognised institution or earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,000 and be sponsored by a well-established Singapore company. A trainee from a foreign office or subsidiary is required to earn the same minimum fixed monthly salary of S$3,000 and be sponsored by a well-established Singapore registered company.

A foreign student may also have the option of applying for the Work Holiday Pass (under the Work Holiday Programme), which enables eligible foreign students or graduates to work and holiday in Singapore for up to a period of six months. The criteria include the limited age range of 18–25 and being an undergraduate or graduate of a recognised university from one of nine countries: Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, or the United States. It is valid for six months and can be applied for multiple times, provided at least 12 months has passed since last holding the pass. The capacity of places is limited to 2,000 in Singapore at any one time.

A separate Work Holiday and Visa Programme has been created for Australian citizens who are studying or have graduated from university in any country. The criteria include an age range of 18–30 and being an undergraduate who has completed at least two years of full-time university study or a graduate holding a university degree. It can be issued only once and is valid for one year. The capacity of places is limited to 500 in Singapore at any one time.

A Training Work Permit (TWP) is available for unskilled or semi-skilled foreign trainees requiring practical training in Singapore for up to six months. A TWP is not renewable and following the expiry or cancellation of an existing TWP, holders must wait six months before being permitted to apply for another.

iv Intra-corporate transfer work permits

Intra-corporate transfers fall within the Employment Pass category. An Intra-Corporate Transferee (ICT) may be exempted from the mandatory requirement to advertise the job posting on (formerly the Singapore Jobs Bank) prior to submission of an Employment Pass application subject to compliance with the strict definition of ICTs under the World Trade Organisation (WTO)'s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) or any applicable free trade agreements to which Singapore is party.

The MOM may request documents that demonstrate the relationship between the group of companies at its discretion. It may also request documents that demonstrate that the Employment Pass applicant meets the definition of an ICT, such as an organisational chart of the Singapore company and the applicant's position in it.

An ICT must have worked for the company or organisation outside Singapore for at least one year before being posted to the branch, subsidiary or affiliate in Singapore. Where the applicant possesses specialist skills or knowledge, their stated job description would be required to demonstrate this advanced level of expertise.

The process for applying for an Employment Pass for an intra-company group employee is the same as the process for an Employment Pass, with the exception that the requirement to advertise the position on for 28 days in advance of submission of an application may be exempt for an ICT. The MOM may also request supporting documents to ascertain the relationship between the group companies at its discretion during the application process.

For foreign nationals who require an entry visa to enter Singapore, a Multiple Journey Visa will be issued concurrently with the issuance of the Employment Pass for the same duration. The government fee for this is currently S$30.

v Timing and validity

The typical processing time from submission of an application to MOM is three weeks. However, this may be extended where requests for further information or documents are made by MOM or if there are complicating factors relating to an individual case.

ICTs are restricted to a three-year term; however, this may be extended for up to two additional years, for a total term not exceeding five years, unless otherwise determined by the Free-Trade Agreement between Singapore and the country where the company's head office is located.

ICTs are not eligible for Permanent Residence in Singapore. They will also not be considered for a work permit with a different employer.

The government fees associated with an Employment Pass application are S$105 payable upon submission of the application, followed by S$225 per pass and S$30 for each Multiple Journey Visa (if applicable) upon issuance of the approved pass.

vi New hires

The Employment Pass category of a Work Pass is the appropriate category for new hires of foreigners working in a managerial, executive or specialised role.

The minimum salary payable to an Employment Pass holder is S$4,500 per month.

The Fair Consideration Framework was introduced as part of the Singapore government's move to strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce and the requirement to consider Singaporean candidates fairly for job opportunities prior to the hiring of a foreigner to a position. Before an Employment Pass application is submitted, an employer must advertise the job vacancy on the website administered by Workforce Singapore, a statutory board under the MOM. The advertisement must satisfy several requirements and be open to Singaporeans; it also must comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices and run for at least 28 calendar days before an Employment Pass application is submitted.

vii Exemptions

The MOM permits exemptions from the advertising requirement where one of the following criteria are met:

  1. the company has fewer than 10 employees;
  2. the fixed monthly salary of the job position is S$20,000 and above;
  3. the position is to be filled by an ICT. In line with the WTO GATS, ICTs relate to positions of seniority in the organisation or individuals who possess an advanced level of expertise; and
  4. the job is necessary for short-term contingencies (considered a period of employment in Singapore for not more than one month).

Notwithstanding the above categories of exemptions, the MOM strongly encourages employers to advertise all positions on to facilitate access to a larger pool of local candidates and to demonstrate that the company is serious in its endeavour to implement fair employment and recruitment practices that are founded on open, merit-based and non-discriminatory principles, even in such circumstances where a technical exemption from advertising applies.

Following completion of the advertising process, the employer must submit an Employment Pass application through the designated MOM online application system. Typically, the review process by MOM requires three weeks; however, this can be longer where requests for further information are made by MOM and subject to the individual profile of the application. Upon approval, an 'In-Principle Approval' letter is issued. Once the applicant is present in Singapore, a request for the pass to be issued can be made. This step must be completed within six months from the issuance of the In-Principle Approval. Once the Employment Pass is issued online, a notification letter is issued that enables the individual to commence working and facilitates travel in and out of Singapore for one month pending issuance of the Employment Pass card. Within two weeks of the pass issuance, the individual must make an appointment to attend the Employment Pass Services Centre to register biometric details. The Employment Pass card will subsequently be delivered after four working days to the individual.

The typical processing time from submission of an application to MOM is three weeks. However, this may be extended where requests for further information or documents are made by MOM or if there are complicating factors relating to an individual case.

The duration of the Employment Pass granted will be at the discretion of the MOM but typically would be up to two years for a first-time candidate. An application to renew can be made up to six months in advance of the expiry of the existing pass, typically for a further two years but could be for a maximum of three years.

The requirement to advertise on does not apply when applying to renew an existing pass for a foreign employee. However, where an Employment Pass holder decides to change jobs and apply for a new position with a different employer in Singapore, such a job would be subject to the advertising requirements.

Once a foreign employee holds a valid Employment Pass or S Pass, they fall within one of the eligible categories to apply for Singapore Permanent Residence. However, each individual application would be subject to strict assessment by the ICA of the strength and profile of the application.

viii Conditions of stay

An Employment Pass holder is permitted to reside and work in Singapore for the duration of the pass granted. The employer or sponsor undertakes to bear responsibility for the employee's upkeep and maintenance in Singapore and to indemnify the Singapore government for any charges or expenses which may be incurred by the government in respect of the foreign employee or their dependants.

The employer or sponsor also undertakes to bear the costs of repatriating the employee (except where the employee consents in writing to bear such costs). Up to six months prior to its expiry, a renewal application may be submitted for a further period. To start working for a different employer in Singapore, the new employer must apply for a new Employment Pass in compliance with the advertising and submission requirements, and the previous employer must cancel the existing work permit upon termination of the employment.

ix Dependent family members

A legally married spouse and unmarried children under 21, including those that are legally adopted, are eligible to apply for a Dependant Pass. Unmarried stepchildren under 21 and unmarried handicapped children over 21 are eligible to apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass.

A common-law spouse is eligible to apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass provided their partnership is recognised in either party's country of domicile. The Singapore government does not recognise same-sex partners.

Dependants are required to obtain a Work Pass in their own right and subject to their own eligibility criteria. A child who wishes to work in Singapore will also be required to obtain their own Work Pass on their own merit. Any such application would be subject to the individual assessment by MOM in the normal way.

x Permanent residence

Singapore does not practise a points system for Permanent Residency applications and does not broadcast the qualifying criteria. Generally, an Employment Pass or S Pass holder falls within one of the eligible categories of foreigner able to apply for Permanent Residence in Singapore. Applications for Permanent Residence are assessed by the ICA and are subject to strict scrutiny of the applicant's personal profile, qualifications and experience. The number of new Permanent Residences granted has been tightened significantly in recent years.

There is no automatic progression to Permanent Residence from an Employment Pass or S Pass. An individual must elect to apply.

xi Bars to admission

The main bars to admission for work in Singapore would include a criminal record or a person infected with AIDS or HIV. The Immigration Act (Chapter 133) Part II Section 8 defines all Prohibited Immigrants to Singapore. In relation to individual Work Pass applicants, each application will be carefully scrutinised as to whether the personal profile, professional skills and qualifications, salary and job scope are commensurate with the level of job expertise required.

Work Pass and Permanent Resident applicants must declare any criminal convictions and such a declaration would likely result in an application rejection.

Outlook and conclusions

From September 2022, the minimum qualifying salary for new Employment Pass (EP) applicants will be raised from S$4,500 to S$5,000. For the financial services sector, which has higher salary norms, the bar will be raised from S$5,000 to S$5,500.

Salary thresholds for S Pass holders will also be raised. From September 2022, the minimum qualifying salary for new applicants will increase from S$2,500 to S$3,000. A higher salary threshold of $3,500 will be introduced for the financial services sector.


From 2023, applicants will also have to score sufficient points under a new COMPASS (Complementary Assessment Framework) points system to work in Singapore. It will come into effect for new applications from September 2023, and for renewal applications from September 2024.

Points under COMPASS will be awarded based on four attributes and two bonus criteria.

The EP application can score up to 20 points for each attribute – the applicant's salary, his or her qualifications, the nationality diversity of the hiring firm and the firm's support for local employment.

An individual or firm that meets the expectations for each attribute or criteria will score 10 points and if it exceeds expectations, 20 points will be scored.

The applicant or firm can also score on two bonus criteria. One is a 'Skills Bonus' for candidates in jobs where skills shortages exist, which can add up to 20 points. The second is a 'Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus' of up to 10 points for firms that engage in innovation and internationalisation activities in partnership with the government.

There are also two attributes for the firm to meet. The firm can score 10 points if the proportion of its employees with the same nationality as the applicants is between 5 and 25 per cent. It scores 0 if the proportion is more than 25 per cent, and 20 points if it is less than 5 per cent.

It scores another 10 points if the firm's share of local professionals, managers, engineers and technicians (PMET jobs) is at the 20th to 50th percentile compared to its sector.

Foundation criteriaPoints
C1. Salary (Individual)
Fixed monthly salary compared to local PMET salaries in sector by age
  • 90th percentile
  • 65th to 90th percentile
  • 65th percentile
C2. Qualification (Individual)
Based on candidate's qualifications
  • Top-tier institution
  • Degree-equivalent qualification
  • No degree-equivalent qualification
C3. Diversity (Firm-related)
Share of candidate's nationality among firm's PMETs
  • <5%
  • 5 to 25%
  • >25%
C4. Support for local employment (Firm-related)
Firm's share of local PMETs within its subsector
  • >50th percentile
  • 20th to 50th percentile
  • <20th percentile
Bonus criteria 
C5. Skills Bonus – Shortage Occupation List (Individual)
Job on the Shortage Occupation List
C6. Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Firm-related)
Firm meets specific assessment criteria on innovation orInternationalisation activities

Singapore continues to refine its immigration policy and legal framework to balance the dual needs of being an open, dynamic, and liberal economy while also upskilling and protecting the resident labour market. The government will continue to adopt a pragmatic approach to this delicate balancing exercise as the world moves beyond the constraints of the covid-19 pandemic.



1 Ben Sheldrick is managing partner at Magrath Sheldrick LLP.

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