Singapore Immigration Changes
Changes to ICT Policy
In November 2020 K2 Singapore was informed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) about recent changes in their ICT policy. The new policy may affect how international corporations are able to send their employees on secondment to Singapore, how long they can work in the country and if they are eligible to bring family members.
- When filing EP applications, the myMOM system will ask a question on whether the EP candidate is considered to be an ICT by transferring to a subsidiary, affiliate or branch in Singapore of their employer in the home country. If this is declared, the EP holder may only have a maximum EP term of 5 years in total and they may not be able to sponsor Dependent´s Passes (DP) or Long-Term Visit Passes (LTVP).
- The new policy states that candidates who are applying for EPs under the ICT route are generally not allowed to sponsor DPs or LTVPs. This is unless the prevailing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Singapore and the applicant´s nationality specifically covers family members.
- ICTs are generally only allowed into Singapore for a limited amount of time by having a maximum total pass term. The maximum pass term is also based on the prevailing FTA relevant in the case. Furthermore, ICTs are to our understanding not eligible for further employment or permanent residency once the maximum pass term has been reached.
The ICT route has in the past been used by international corporations sending employees on secondment to Singapore, mainly with the benefit of not having to advertise the position. Given the above changes, international corporations must now reconsider how EP applications are submitted, especially if the intent is for the candidate to stay in Singapore for a longer period of time and if family members are to be accompanying. If the sponsoring company still wishes to utilise the ICT route, it is highly advisable to contact us at K2 so that we can help with guidance.
On potential solutions, a company may consider other advertisement exemptions. For example, advertisements are not required for candidates who are offered a fixed monthly salary above 20,000 SGD per month or if the company has fewer than 10 employees in total. If this is not viable, an advertisement will need to be posted for 28 days and the candidate should not be declared as an ICT. K2 understands that this is part of MOM´s aim for companies to hire fairly and make positions available locally. Due to this policy, K2 believes that there may be an increase in positions advertised in Singapore, as companies will be less inclined to use the ICT route.
Increased Requests for Degree Verifications
Another change in practices is that MOM requests more degrees to be verified by third parties. In summary, if an EP and S Pass applicant holds a degree from a university or institution which is not in the application form´s drop-down menu, the system will automatically trigger a request for the degree to be verified. Generally, it is only universities or institutions which are lesser known that are not in the drop-down menu. It can for example include universities/institutions that are small with few students or if the university/institution is based in a country where it is more uncommon for people to move to Singapore from.
Degree verifications can take between 18 to 30 days and must be done through an approved third party. If a degree verification is required, it must be obtained before an EP or S Pass application can be submitted. For this reason, our recommendation is to start collecting the candidate´s details early to review the university/ institution situation.
You are welcome to let us know should you have any questions on the new ICT requirements or degree verifications.
As always we are here to help in any way we can
Should you need any additional information, consultation, or guidance on any of the above, please do contact us as we would be delighted to assist you.
Additionally, if you would like to have a virtual coffee with any of our experts, please contact us we would be happy to arrange this.
Author: Jesper Albrekt, Global Immigration Manager