Singapore has been busy updating rules around hiring foreign workers during this post covid era.
Five-year visas and the repealing of S377A a law against sex between men made headlines in the recent weeks. Singapore now has unveiled a series of measures meant to help it achieve even more success and attract top global talent in next-generation industries like computing, aeronautics and even the arts.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said “Singapore is still a global city. We cannot survive in any other way.”
Singapore has always had political stability, safety, efficient healthcare and public transport have long been part of Singapore’s pitch to the world. But Singapore's politicians say that’s not enough to attract more businesses or global talents.
The competition is not just with countries like Hong Kong but also places like Germany, UK, Thailand, UAE and more.
So starting in 2023, Singapore is instituting a points-based system for visa candidates -- evaluating things like education, skills, pay and how nationality contributes to diversity at their firm. Applicants need at least 40 points across six categories to be in contention, with the potential to score 0, 10, or 20 points in each.
Singapore will offer a five-year work visa -- the Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) pass -- for those making at least S$30,000 ($21,300) per month, a jump from the two-year pass.
The new visa also allows workers’ dependents to seek employment, and opens the door for exceptional candidates in sports, arts, science and academia who don’t meet the salary criteria.
Singapore’s Fair Consideration Framework is meant to ensure that local candidates get a fair shot even among firms that have international hires in their sights.
The policies that were tightened as unemployment jumped during the pandemic, now some of those rules were eased last month.
Jobs must now be advertised for 14 days, down from 28 days during the pandemic’s peak. As of Sept. 1, 2023, roles with a monthly salary of at least S$22,500 will be exempt from the job advertising requirement. That salary threshold will be reviewed periodically. Companies with fewer than 10 employees are also exempt.
In an effort to modernize the city-state’s social framework, Prime Minister Lee announced plans to repeal a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men. This would allow eligibility for spouses of LGBTQ+ talent whose marriages aren’t recognized in Singapore.
Technology roles of all kinds have been highly favored as Singapore opens its doors further to international applicants. The “Tech.Pass” that Singapore introduced in 2020 is still attractive for technology leaders -- if their companies have amassed a valuation or market value of at least $500 million.
Noticeably absent from Singapore’s latest approach toward expats are incentives for those at the lower end of the income ladder.
Perhaps the biggest factor foreign workers have to weigh anywhere they move is the cost of living.