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SINGAPORE – New Criteria for Employment Passes from January 2012

The Ministry of Manpower has announced new criteria for the assessment of two key categories of Employment Pass – the Employment Pass Q1 and the Employment Pass P2. Salary requirements and expectations of educational level are both increased. The official press release from the Ministry of Manpower states that, "These moves will ensure that as salaries of locals rise as they gain in experience and progress in their careers, they will not be disadvantaged by EP holders coming in at lower wages."

What Are The Increased Salary Levels?

Effective 1 January 2012, the following minimum salary levels will apply:

  • Employment Pass Q1:
    • $3000SGD/month (up from $2800SGD per month) or more, depending on qualifications and experience.
    • In particular, the Ministry of Manpower has specified that “older applicants” (although no specific age is given as definition for “older”) will be expected to earn more, in line with their expected higher levels of experience.
    • The Ministry has also said that applicants from “good institutions” may qualify with the lowest rate salary of $3000SGD/month, although again, no list of “good institutions” has been provided, although the Ministry does maintain a “sample” list of recognised qualifications on its website here. Presumably, this will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  • Employment Pass P2: $4500SGD/month. This is up from $4000SGD/month)
  • Employment Pass P1: Unchanged from $8000SGD/month.

What Are The Different Categories?

Employment Passes are for professional, managerial, executive or specialist jobs. The different categories (P1, P2 and Q1) correspond to salary and, broadly speaking, the higher the salary is, the fewer the additional justifying criteria for the issuance of the Pass. In addition, P Pass holders can apply for Long Term Social Visit Passes for non-traditional dependents (e.g. common law spouses or parents and parents- in law), while Q Pass holders do not obtain these privileges. More information can be found at the Ministry of Manpower website here.

What About Existing Employment Pass Holders?

Transitional measures apply for existing Employment Pass (EP) holders, as follows:

  • Existing EP holders whose passes expire before 1 January 2012: receive a one-time renewal of up to two years based on the pre-July 2011 EP criteria.
  • Existing EP holders whose passes expire between 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2012 (both dates inclusive): receive a one-time renewal of up to one year on the existing EP criteria.
  • Existing EP holders whose passes expire on or after 1 July 2012 are subject to the new criteria.
  • Existing EP holders who change employers after 1 January 2012 will have their applications considered under the new EP criteria.
  • EP holders with dependants in Singapore by 1 January 2012 will retain these privileges as long as their passes remain valid and do not change employers.

Can Allowances Be Included?

The minimum salary levels apply to the “fixed monthly salary”, i.e. the salary paid to the employee each month, exclusive of any variable payments such as reimbursements, variable incentive payments, overtime or bonuses, or pension contributions Travelling or housing allowances may be included as long as these are fixed and non-variable.

Action Items

  • Note the new minimum salary levels and educational expectations, and review upcoming transfers to Singapore to ensure that these are met.
  • Review existing work pass holders’ terms and conditions in Singapore, taking the transitional arrangements noted above into account.

This alert was prepared using information from 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.