Singapore: Tightening of employment pass regulations for overseas intra-corporate transferee

In brief

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has included an additional question in the Employment Pass (EP) online application form if employers declare that the candidate is applying to transfer to a branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the EP sponsoring entity in Singapore. The response will determine if the family members of an intra-corporate transferee (ICT) is eligible for Dependant's Passes or Long Term Visit Passes and if the ICT can pursue further employment in Singapore.


Contents

Key takeaways

  • This update is triggered when employers declare in the EP online application form that the candidate is an overseas ICT under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or an applicable Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
  • Family members of an ICT are not eligible for Dependant’s Passes or Long-Term Visit Passes, except where they are specifically covered by an applicable FTA and meet the prevailing criteria for consideration.
  • An ICT is allowed entry into Singapore on a temporary basis, for a period strictly limited to the provision under the applicable FTA. An ICT is also generally not eligible for future employment or for permanent residency in Singapore upon the expiry/termination of their work pass.

In more detail

This is a new condition imposed by the MOM on an EP application via the ICT-route. If the candidate is assessed by the MOM to be qualified as an ICT, the MOM may further request for the employer to download the ICT Declaration Form from the following URL, get it signed by the candidate and thereafter submit the completed form to the MOM for further review:

https://www.mom.gov.sg/-/media/mom/documents/services-forms/passes/declaration-to-work-in-singapore-as-overseas-intracorporate-transferee.pdf

Per the MOM's guidance, the ICT Declaration Form must be downloaded and completed using a PDF reader so that the declaration clauses can be generated. Accordingly, declaration clauses should include the following, among others:

  1. The candidate cannot bring his/her family into Singapore on Dependant’s Passes or Long-Term Visit Passes, except where they are specifically covered by an applicable FTA and meet the prevailing criteria for consideration.
  2. The candidate can only work in Singapore on a temporary basis, for a period strictly limited to the provision under the applicable FTA.
  3. The candidate is also generally not eligible for future employment or for permanent residency in Singapore upon the expiry/termination of his/her work pass.

If the candidate is expected to be transferred to Singapore from an overseas entity on a permanent basis and/or to be joined by their family in Singapore, the employer should consider applying for the EP via the job advertising route, or by relying on other applicable ground for exemption from the job advertising requirement (e.g., company size, salary). Accordingly in order for the MOM to assess the EP application as an non-ICT case, the employer should not declare that the candidate is an overseas ICT in the EP online application form. The MOM has confirmed that this would not be considered as a false declaration.

If the employer does not meet the job advertising exemption, the employer must advertise the job position on MyCareersFuture.sg for a minimum of 28 days and consider all candidates fairly for the role before putting in an EP application.

Comments

The tightening of the regulation for an EP application via the ICT-route further reinforces the MOM's goal in the eventual building of a Singapore core among employers. Despite the prevalence of employers using the ICT route to obtain EPs, this change is likely to lead to more employers being less inclined to apply for EPs via the ICT-route and instead go through the normal process of advertising on MyCareersFuture.sg.

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