Changes in visa requirements in 2020

Due to the coronavirus crisis, The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is continuously making updates to the criteria of approving foreign work passes to help businesses to grow and ensure local candidates are fairly considered.

New requirements for EP

From September 2020, firms applying for new Employment Passes for foreign professionals will need to pay them a base salary of at least S$4,500, up from the current S$3,900. Revisions to the salary criteria in recent years have significantly reduced the number of EP holders. In the first half of the last decade, the number of EP holders averaged 13,000 per year, compared to 3,000 per year in the second half. 

People working in the finance sector with an EP will have to earn a minimum salary of S$5,000, starting from 1st December 2020. This is the first time the ministry has announced a sector-specific higher qualifying salary. 

Qualifying wages for EP applicants in their 40s will also be increased accordingly and will remain approximately double the minimum qualifying wage for younger applicants. 

For EP renewal, these new salary criteria will come into effect from 1st May 2021.

New requirements for S Pass

The minimum wage and qualifications required for S Passes will be increased as well. The minimum wage will be increased by S$100, from S$2,400 to S$2,500. The changes to the S Pass qualification wages will apply to new applicants as of 1st October 2020, and apply to renewal applicants from 1st May 2021.

MOM has announced that there will be no changes to levies and quota.

Fair Consideration Framework (FCF)

When evaluating applications for EPs and S Passes, MOM will now also place more emphasis on whether the firm has continued to support its local PMET staff, or whether it has discriminated against qualified Singaporeans. Any discrimination in favor of foreign candidates will be sanctioned by the MOM and companies will have their work permits reduced and may be subject to prosecution.

To ensure that no discrimination occurs, employers will be required to give fair consideration to all applicants and will be required to advertise job offers on (MCF) website. The minimum FCF job advertising duration for EP and S Pass applications will be doubled from 14 days to 28 days after 1st October 2020.

Hiring continues despite pandemic hit

Employment rates have been badly hit by the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but some sectors continue to hire despite the economic context. Among these sectors, technology and financial companies are still thriving and continue to hire. Tech firms are looking daily for new talent that can adapt quickly to the new normal. Telephone companies are recruiting even more than before and are recruiting in all areas.

On the contrary, unemployment severely impacted the retail, travel, food and beverage, and recreation sectors. The travel and consumer sectors were already experiencing low growth before the pandemic, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The government continues to help businesses through the Jobs Support Scheme as well as other new measures to prevent a sharp increase in unemployment.

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