New visa rules to draw expats to Singapore

Published 2023-03-12 13:09:14
View of Singapore - Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

To re-ignite its status as a global economy post-pandemic, Singapore has revised its visa rules to attract “super skilled” foreigners to its shores. The new points-based system will score workers on factors such as education level, skills and work experience and nationality. It is called the Overseas Networks & Expertise (ONE) pass and is valid for five years. This new visa system will launch in September 2023 for new applicants of the Employment Pass.

Singapore has always attracted foreign workers to its shores because it ranks as one of the most globalised economies in the world, it is a very safe place to live and raise families, and Singapore boasts political stability. 

Overhauling the existing Employment Pass

During the recent Covid pandemic, many expats left Singapore partly due to the country’s strict travel restrictions. This mass exodus of workers caused the population to drop for the first time in decades creating a labour shortage.

To reignite the economy, changes to the work visa were introduced because the government recognised that talent is their only resource and talent acquisition was an offensive strategy to improving their economy.

New applications for the Employment Pass (EP) will be processed from September 2023 using the revised criteria called the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). All new EP applicants must score a minimum of 40 points under the COMPASS system to qualify.

 Minister of Manpower Tan See Leng said in an interview with Bloomberg: "What we are trying to do is to be able to differentiate the high talent, the really super skill sets talent that can come to our country to work to complement our existing workforce"

The new visa will also address the politics surrounding the hiring of foreigners and the bias against employing foreign workers by some. Right now about 14% of workers in the financial and business sectors comprise foreigners. The minister was quick to denounce the negative sentiment towards foreigners assuring people that it was not widespread in the Singaporean population.

To address the antagonism towards foreigners Mr Tan See Leng added: "Rather than open the door and let every single one in, what we are trying to say is that let's have a little bit more differentiation"

He added that the business sector in Singapore is pleased with the new visa rules because it affords more transparency in the hiring process. The hope is that as foreigners leave when their visas expire, new expats are hired that are of a higher quality and competence. 

The Revised Visa

Salary requirements

The minimum salary the applicant must earn is US$21,300 which is equivalent to S$30,000 per month. This requirement may be waived if the applicant is identified as an outstanding achiever in the specific areas of arts and culture, science and technology or in research or academia.

Validity period and work conditions

The new visa is also valid for five years and is renewable subject to the candidate meeting eligibility criteria for renewal but there are some new amendments.

The visa holder is now able to perform numerous work-related tasks at the same time. This includes working, starting up a business and running more than one business at the same time.

Another advantage to the new type of visa is that the spouse of the visa holder is also able to work after obtaining permission from the Ministry of Manpower. This will surely be positive news for the multitude of trailing spouses.

New applicants with no previous experience working in Singapore will have to show evidence that they have employment experience in a business with at least a $500 million market value or $200 million in annual revenue.

Fair Consideration Framework

This requirement is waived under the new visa regulations. Previously, employers had to advertise the job vacancy locally to comply with fair employment practices and bolster labour market transparency.

Some reasons to choose Singapore

In the Global Competitiveness Report 2014 – 2015, Singapore ranked second as the most globalized economy worldwide. This report took into account the country’s policies and other factors that correlate to productivity levels. 

Companies in Singapore offer high salaries and great benefit packages to attract top talent.

The country is well-known for its political stability, low crime rates and zero corruption. The government is renowned for its commitment to improving the business environment by introducing new regulations and tax reliefs. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau keeps a tight leash on crime by enforcing strict laws and punishing criminals with long jail sentences and hefty fines depending on the severity of the crime committed.

Singapore can also claim to have one of the highest density of millionaires in the world. About 8.8% of the population have assets in access of one million US dollars. About 50% of the wealthy in the country have accumulated their wealth in under ten years. This can be partly attributed to the location and its proximity to countries with prosperous markets like India, Indonesia and Malaysia; easy business practices in Singapore and rapid use of new technologies.

The easy online tax return system makes calculating and paying your taxes easy. Once you have your residence permit, your personal taxes can range from 0% to 20% depending on your salary.

It is easy to obtain a permanent resident card if you have lived there for over a year. This is an easy process if you are below the age of fifty, have a solid educational background, have experience in a specific sector like in science and technology, and can speak at least one of the four official languages (Tamil, Malay, English, Mandarin).

English is widely spoken and Singapore is a melting pot of many cultures with many expat communities making adapting to the culture very seamless.

Singapore offers a high-quality of education. It offers a great variety of top-notch schools and world-recognised tertiary institutions.

Opening a business in Singapore is not fraught with reams of red tape. You can apply online and pay a registration fee. This process can take up to three days. Once registered the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) offers your business support in the form of a wide selection of agencies and service providers that can help with your every start-up need.

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Moving Abroad

Author: KashGo
Expat Mum in the Desert and content writer for

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