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SINGAPORE – Amendments to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) and Increased Salary Requirements for Personalised Employment Passes

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has announced amendments to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) to take effect from today, 9 November 2012. The amendments strengthen the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM's) enforcement capabilities, specifically relating to employer compliance with immigration regulations. Separately, the MOM has announced changes to the Personalised Employment Pass route including an increase of more than quadruple in the salary level criterion.

Amendments to EFMA

The EFMA will be amended in three ways:

  1. A new administrative penalty regime is established. Commissioners for Foreign Manpower will be authorised to impose administrative financial penalties of up to $20,000 per infringement.
  2. New offences and infringements with higher penalties have been created, to ensure that penalties are commensurate with potential profits by errant employers.
  3. The MOM’s investigatory powers have been increased to step up enforcement against syndicates and errant employers.

More information is available here.

Changes to Personalised Employment Pass Route

The Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) route is an application route for highly skilled foreign workers. It is not employer sponsored and allows the holder to work for any employer, with permission for the holder to remain in Singapore for up to six months between jobs to evaluate new employment opportunities. The following changes to this route will be made, effective 1 December 2012:

  1. Increase of minimum annual fixed salary requirement from $SGD34,000 to $SGD144,000 (approximately EUR92.5K)
  2. Availability of PEP only to P1 Pass holders who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $12,000 and overseas-based foreign professionals whose last drawn fixed monthly salary was at least $18,000. Until 1 December, the PEP route continues to be available to:
    1. P1 Pass holders;
    2. Former P1 Pass holders;
    3. Overseas-based foreign professionals whose last drawn fixed monthly salary was at least $8,000;
    4. P2 Pass holders with at least 2 years’ on a P Pass and earned a fixed salary of at least $34,000 in the preceding year;
    5. Q1 Pass holders with at least 5 years’ on a Q1 Pass and who earned a fixed salary of at least $34,000 in the preceding year; and
    6. Foreign graduates from Singapore’s Institutes of Higher Learning with at least 2 years’ on an Employment Pass and who earned a fixed salary of at least $34,000 in the preceding year.
  3. Change in validity of PEP from 5 years to 3 years
  4. New PEP holders can bring in their parents, spouses and children (previously, this was limited)

Increased Salary Requirement: Impact on Existing PEP Holders

The most dramatic of the changes to the PEP route is the massive increase in required minimum salary. The MOM has issued an FAQ sheet which reassures existing PEP holders that:

  • Existing PEP holders are not required to meet the new salary requirement until 31 December 2014;
  • Existing PEP holders with PEPs due to expire at any time before 30 June 2015 will be permitted to remain in Singapore until expiry of their PEPs without being required to meet the new salary criterion;
  • Existing PEP holders who cannot meet the minimum salary requirement by 31 December 2014 will be required to change status to an Employment Pass or S Pass, subject to meeting criteria.

Action Items

  • Note the amendments to EFMA and increased emphasis on employer compliance
  • Review salary levels of existing PEP holders and determine if action will be necessary for your employees
  • Submit any pending PEP applications prior to 1 December 2012 if possible, particularly if submitting applications from foreign nationals in Singapore in one of the categories no longer eligible for PEP conversion after 1 December.

This alert was prepared using information provided by the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore

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.