“How many people do you think they approve for PR now?”
“Given the current situation and economic recession, will the government restrict PR applications?”
The above are current hot topics around expat circles and forums. In case you are not aware, employers who hire foreigners from overseas will have to pay more for foreign talent and look harder for Singaporeans to fill open jobs first. From 1 September 2020, companies applying for new Employment Passes (EP) will need to pay a monthly salary of at least $4,500 (almost 20% increase). In the financial services, the minimum salary will be higher, and new EP holders will need a qualifying salary of at least $5,000. These new criteria will also affect EP renewals from May 2021.
For S Pass, the minimum salary will increase from $2,400 to $2,500 from Oct 1 for new applicants, and May 2021 for renewals. The criteria for more experienced S Pass holders is also being raised.
The authorities will pay closer attention to companies where there is an over-concentration of EP or S Pass holders from a single country. They may be placed on a watch list for discriminatory hiring. As Singapore is multi-racial and multi-ethnic, it affects the fabric of society and the sense of comfort Singaporeans feel.
Singapore businesses worried by protectionism
Businesses are wary of protectionist suggestions to keep the Singapore core in professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) jobs, which may backfire.
These new regulations will penalise firms genuinely facing a shortage of local tech talent, potentially pushing them offshore. Of concern is the technology sector, especially in very specialised areas such as AI, cybersecurity and data analytics, where Singapore’s institutions cannot keep up in churning out the required talent. The tech talent crunch is acute and is already hard to hire. The last thing Singapore needs is to slow down our digitisation drive and start-up ecosystem success. If we push too hard, firms may simply hire talent offshore or take the business overseas.
Singapore must remain open to global talent
Singapore must remain open to the diversity of companies in the tech sector to ensure good opportunities for Singaporeans, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran. This entails recognising their need to tap on a diverse talent base, he added.
“Our challenge is to work with these companies to continue creating career opportunities for Singaporeans, while recognising that we must allow them to have the necessary diversity in their talent base, especially in emerging areas, in order to strengthen our position as a digital tech hub” he said. The minister added that the digital economy remained a “bright spot” for Singaporean job seekers.
PM Lee acknowledged that Singapore had succeeded creating a better life for its people by being an international hub and serving a global market. He also disclosed that even in the depressed economic climate, more companies have expressed interest in coming to Singapore.
But he also said that for the companies to come, they must also feel welcome, and be allowed to bring in the talent with the expertise required to fill some of the jobs. “So even as we adjust our work pass policies, we must be careful not to give the wrong impression that we are now closing up, and no longer welcoming foreigners. Such a reputation would do us great harm”, he added.
Why is this important to you and why you should apply for Permanent Residence (PR) now?
“If employers must retrench, retain local over foreigner talent”, said Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang.
The numbers of EP and S Pass holders have come down since Covid-19, as more foreigners have left Singapore because of retrenchment or simply moving to go back to their families because of this unique situation. New EP applications have been rescinded or taken longer than usual for approval. Work pass renewals will tighten from May 2021, with new qualifying salary, depending on your seniority level.
With a Singapore PR, your place in Singapore is secure and permanent. Your work pass in Singapore will no longer be tied to your job. You will be regarded by employers as a “local hire”. No longer will you worry about the major disruption to your family if the unthinkable happens and you are let go as a foreign expat, then sent home with your family.
If you are stable in your career and if you are in key industries with an acute shortage in Singapore (IT, AI, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical), now is the ideal time to apply!