The application process for Singapore Employment Pass (EP) has been further tightened in late 2016 with additional criteria applied for new applications of Employment Pass (EP) holders in recent months. In the past, employment passes were approved based on an applicant’s qualifications, experience and salary. But since the middle to the end of 2016, companies applying for EPs have been scrutinised based on their ratio of local hires versus to foreigners in the firm compared with the rest of the industry, as well as their commitment to developing locals. Officially no quota of local hires is required to employ foreigners on employment passes which are targeted mainly for highly skilled and middle to senior level professionals. However, in recent applications, Ministry of Manpower has started to request for Central Provident Fund (CPF) statements of employers to verify the number of local hires as part of their assessment of employment pass eligibility of applicants.
The qualifying salaries of applicants has also been raised and this criteria is benchmark against academic qualifications, skills and experience of candidates versus local candidates of similar calibre.
Employers are also screened and assessed more vigorously now in terms of their financial standing and their ability to afford the higher salaries of foreign applicants on employment pass.
The selection criteria of employment pass applicants in Singapore is expected to remain strict this year in the wake of economic weakness both locally and internationally. The anti-immigration trend in the US and UK would also have an impact on the barriers to foreigners obtaining Singapore employment pass. With tightened work visa requirements in these developed countries, the number and choices of talented and skilled applicants from around the work wanting to come to Singapore to find work are expected to increase. This trend will present a major challenge to policy makers on how to regulate the flow of international talent to Singapore without affecting the employability of Singaporean employees affected by economic restructuring and technological disruptions.