On August 29, 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore announced four key improvements to the pass framework of Singapore, namely:
- Introduction of a new Overseas Networks & Expertise Work Pass (ONEWP) for talents comparable to the top 5% of Pass Emploi (EP) holders.
- Introduced a new public benchmark for exemption from certain existing work pass requirements.
- Changes to existing EP application processes.
- Five-year EP option for qualified technology professionals.
The aim of these improvements is to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global talent hub.
Introduction of new overseas networks and expertise pass
The ONEWP is a personalized five-year work pass that allows holders to start, operate and work for multiple businesses in Singapore at the same time. Applications for the new ONEWP will open on January 1, 2023. MOM has announced that there will be a few application pathways, although it is not yet clear what the different application pathways or processes will be. Nevertheless, it has been established that applicants will generally be required to have earned a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 in the past year or will be earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 from their future Singapore-based employer. On an exceptional basis, candidates with outstanding achievements in arts and culture, sports, science and technology, research and academia may be eligible for an ONEWP even if they do not meet minimum wage requirement of S$30,000.
Other key features of ONEWP, compared to an EP, are briefly summarized below:
|Simultaneous employment||Permit. ONEWP holders can start, operate and work for multiple companies in Singapore.||Not allowed. EP holders can only work in Singapore for the employer who sponsored their EP.|
|Consent letter for working spouses||Permit.||Not allowed.|
|Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Job Advertising Requirement||Not allowed.||Obligatory. Before an employer can submit an EP application, they must first post the vacancy on MyCareersFuture for at least 14 days.|
|Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)||Not applicable.||Applicable to new EP applications from September 1, 2023 and renewal EP applications from September 1, 2024.|
|Annual notification to MOM of professional activities||Obligatory. ONEWP holders will be required to update MOM annually on their professional activities to ensure that they are using the flexibility available to them under ONEWP to contribute meaningfully.||Not required.|
IIntroducing a new public benchmark for exemption from certain existing work pass requirements
Currently, EP holders earning fixed monthly salaries of S$20,000 and above are exempt from the FCF job advertisement requirement and the upcoming COMPASS. People falling under this category of EP holders are also eligible for the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP), as an alternative to the EP. From September 1, 2023, in order to provide more clarity on the work pass framework for MOM talents, MOM will put in place a new public repository for these candidates, namely:
- The exemption bar for the FCF and COMPASS job advertisement requirement will increase from S$20,000 to S$22,500; and
- The minimum wage criteria for PEP will increase from S$18,000 for foreign professionals abroad and S$12,000 for current EP holders to S$22,500 for all PEP applicants.
Changes to existing EP application processes
To enable employers to be more responsive to business needs, MOM has implemented the following changes:
- As of September 1, 2022, the duration of the job announcement obligation at the FCF is reduced from 28 days to 14 days.
- Effective immediately, MOM will improve the processing time for all EP applications so that EP applications will be processed, or an update provided to employers, within 10 business days.
Five-year EP option for qualified technology professionals
Currently, EPs can be granted for terms of up to two years for first-time applicants and up to three years for renewal applicants. From September 1, 2023, to enable Singapore to anchor technology capabilities and develop Singapore’s local pipeline, MOM will offer the option of a five-year EP to applicants who:
- are experienced professionals in specific technical positions on the COMPASS list of shortage occupations (to be announced in March 2023);
- earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$10,500 (with older applicants receiving higher salaries); and
- pass COMPASS and obtain at least 10 points on the COMPASS Diversity criterion.
What this means for employers in Singapore
Given the recent and upcoming changes discussed above, it is expected that employers in Singapore will have more options to meet their labor needs, improve workforce and make better use of the global talent pool.
What we can do to help
We can advise on the details of changes to Singapore’s work permit regime, as well as assist employers with relevant work permit applications.