Home/ News / World/  Singapore eases work visa rules for top talents: Check eligibility, benefits and application details

The Singapore government has decided to ease the visa rules for high-salaried expats and a few other exceptional talents. The announcement is the latest in a string of decisions this year that are meant to address a still-tight labor market, as well as attract international business to drive the city-state’s ambitions as a global financial hub, after a pandemic-era slump in white-collar workers from abroad.

What are the changes in work visa rules?

  • As per the new directive by the Ministry of Manpower, foreigners earning a minimum S$30,000 ($21,431) per month can now secure a five-year work pass, with a provision to allow their dependents to seek employment. 
  • Apart from that, exceptional candidates in sports, arts, science and academia who don’t meet the salary criteria are also eligible for the long-term visa under the so-called Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) pass

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said, “Both businesses and talent are searching for safe and stable places to invest, live and work in. Singapore is such a place." 

He further added, “It is therefore timely to leverage on this opportunity to cement Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent."

What can be labeled as outstanding achievements?

When asked what would be considered"outstanding achievements", Dr Tan said that the salary benchmark is a proxy but the work pass targets the top 5 per cent, or even top 2 to 3 per cent of talent in the world across these areas. The benchmark salary of S$30,000 is comparable to the top 5 per cent of EP holders in Singapore, a report by CNA said.

Minister Tan pointed out that country is witnessing an easing of labor market tightness and the labor supply in construction and related sectors have gone back almost to pre-Covid levels.

The problems are at the high end of the income ladder -- where Singapore wants to attract top global talent particularly in next-generation, technology-heavy industries -- as well as the lower end. The government fielded criticism during the pandemic that treatment and broader policies for migrant workers primarily employed in the construction industry needed a reboot.

“This is an age where talent makes all the difference to a nation’s success," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his Aug. 21 National Day Rally speech. “We need to focus on attracting and retaining top talent, in the same way we focus on attracting and retaining investments."

The rule change will help the city-state better compete with rival business hubs like Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates and catch up to Australia and the UK, which have similar global talent visas. 

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Updated: 29 Aug 2022, 04:01 PM IST
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