Singapore: Overhaul to obtain an Employment Pass in Singapore
Author: Thomas Choo
The Ministry of Manpower of Singapore (“MOM”) will be raising the qualifying salary (from 1 September 2022) and introducing a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (from 1 September 2023) for Employment Pass (“EP”) applications. Going forward, EP applicants must meet the qualifying salary and pass the points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework to be eligible for an EP.
Current eligibility criteria
Currently, applicants who wish to apply for an EP must:
- have a job offer in Singapore;
- work in a managerial, executive or specialised job;
- earn a fixed monthly salary of at least:
- S$5,000 (more experienced candidates need higher salaries) for applicants in the financial services sector; and
- S$4,500 (more experienced candidates need higher salaries) for applicants in other sectors; and
- have acceptable qualifications, usually a good university degree, professional qualifications or specialist skills.
Updated qualifying salary with effect from 1 September 2022
From 1 September 2022, the MOM will be raising the qualifying salary for EP applications and applicants who wish to apply for an EP must, in addition to criteria 1, 2 and 4 above, earn a fixed monthly salary of at least:
- S$5,500 (more experienced candidates need higher salaries) for applicants in the financial services sector; and
- S$5,000 (more experienced candidates need higher salaries) for applicants in other sectors.
The increase in qualifying salary with effect from 1 September 2022 will be in respect of new EP applications. For EP renewals, the increase in qualifying salary will take effect from 1 September 2023.
Further details on the increase in qualifying salary can be found here.
Complementarity Assessment Framework (“COMPASS”)
In addition to meeting the updated qualifying salary, from 1 September 2023, EP applicants must also pass the points-based COMPASS.
COMPASS will enable the MOM to evaluate EP applications based on the following criteria:
- Foundational criteria
a. Individual attributes
i. Salary – all applicants must meet the EP qualifying salary based on sector-specific benchmarks (which increases with age).
Points will be awarded based on the percentile of the applicant’s fixed monthly salary compared to local professionals, managers, executives and technicians’ (“PMET”) fixed monthly salaries in the relevant sector (which increases with age).
ii. Qualifications – an applicant’s qualification should be genuine and awarded by accredited institutions.Points will be awarded in accordance with the category which the applicant’s qualifications fall under (i.e. top-tier institution, degree-equivalent qualification and no degree-equivalent qualification).
Top-tier institutions include:
- Top 100 universities based on international rankings, and other highly-reputed universities across different regions;
- Singapore’s Autonomous Universities; and
- Vocational institutions that are highly-recognised in a particular field.
b. Firm-related attributes
i. Diversity – points will be awarded to the application where the applicant’s nationality (based on applicant’s passport) forms the minority of the firm’s PMET employees.
ii. Support for local employment – firms with a relatively higher share of locals among PMET employees, compared to their peers in the same subsector will be awarded more points based on the percentile of local PMETs within the subsector.
If the firm’s local PMET share is at least 70%, the applicant will be awarded at least 10 points, regardless of the firm’s standing in its subsector.
- Bonus criteria
a. Skills bonus (shortage occupation list) – the shortage occupation list recognises EP holders in occupations requiring highly specialised skills that are currently in shortage in the local workforce.
Points will be awarded where the EP applicant’s role falls under the shortage occupation list.
b. Strategic economic priorities bonus – COMPASS recognises firms that undertake ambitious innovation, or internationalisation activities in partnership with the Government, in line with Singapore’s economic priorities.
To qualify for the strategic economic priorities bonus, firms must participate in selected programmes run by various economic agencies or meet specific assessment criteria on innovation, or internationalisation activities, and show commitment to developing the local workforce or ecosystem.
To pass COMPASS, the EP application must be awarded at least 40 points.
COMPASS will apply to new EP applications with effect from 1 September 2023 and EP renewals with effect from 1 September 2024.
Exemption from COMPASS
Applicants may be exempted from COMPASS if any of the following conditions are met:
- the applicant earns at least S$20,000 fixed monthly salary;
- the applicant is applying as an overseas intra-corporate transferee under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services or an applicable Free Trade Agreement that Singapore is a party to; or
- the applicant is filling a role on a short-term basis, i.e. 1 month or less.
Further details on COMPASS can be found here.