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SINGAPORE – Software Installation No Longer Eligible for Work Pass Exemption

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has recently removed software installation from its list of activities eligible for a short-term work pass exemption.

MOM has also updated its requirements for the “Seminars and Conferences” category of eligible activities, clarifying that work “must not have sale or promotion of goods or services as its main purpose”. Sale of goods or services is, however, allowed under the “Exhibitions” category.

Another new rule states that the exemption is valid for a cumulative total of 90 days in a calendar year.

What is the work pass exemption?

Certain short-term work activities in Singapore may be performed without a work pass for the duration of the individual's Short Term Visit Pass or 60 days, whichever is shorter. In addition, the exemption is valid for a cumulative total of 90 days in a calendar year (e.g. 3 stints of 30 days). A work pass is therefore required for any work longer than 90 days in a calendar year.

Qualifying applicants must submit a post-arrival e-notification application to inform the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before engaging in Work Pass exempt activities.

Eligible activities include providing expertise or specialised skills for commissioning or auditing new plant and equipment, or installing, dismantling, transferring, repairing, or maintaining any equipment or machine.

The expertise or specialised skills should be of a kind that is not available in Singapore, or that is to be provided by the authorised service personnel of the manufacturer or supplier of the equipment.

Other work pass exempt activities include arbitration or mediation services, exhibiting, journalism, junket activities, location filming and fashion shows, performances, organising or conducting seminars and conferences, sports and tour facilitation.

When is a work-pass exemption notification not required?

It is not necessary to notify MOM to participate in the following activities for the duration of a short-term visit pass:

  • Attending company meetings, corporate retreats or meetings with business partners;
  • Attending study tours or visits, training courses, workshops, seminars and conferences as a participant;
  • Attending exhibitions as a trade visitor.

Note that on-the-job training always requires a work pass.

Action Items

  • Ensure that engineers travelling to Singapore for software installation obtain a work pass, even for jobs of less than 60 days duration.
  • Business travellers to Singapore for sales or promotional work for up to 60 days should submit the required e-notification for the exemption under the "Exhibitions" category, rather than the "Seminars and Conferences" category.
  • Ensure that a work pass is obtained for work of longer than 90 days in a calendar year.

This alert was prepared using information obtained from Kinetica PTE Ltd.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.