Immigration Trends: Singapore & Covid-19 Recovery

One of the world’s top places for expats, Singapore, is working to recover from the pandemic, but not without issue. The country, still struggling to reopen, due to rising COVID-19 cases, is also dealing with changes to its ratio of expat and local workers.

At the height of the pandemic, Singapore’s local unemployment rate reached 3.6%, the largest jobless number for the APAC country since 2004. The rate for expats in Singapore topped much higher, at one point reaching 5.7%.

The country, which frequently tops lists for best cities for expats, is currently looking at its ratio of expat and local workers. When the ratio goes over 2:1 and there becomes more expats than locals, that’s when Singapore stops approving employment applications from foreign workers.

The Singapore Appeal
With a great Central location, Singapore is a clean and modern city, and a great opportunity for a company that wants to do business in APAC.

However, the pandemic has changed a lot—for example, earlier this year, the country eliminated its option to enter Singapore via familial ties. Previously, this option as a possibility for boyfriends or girlfriends of Singapore permanent residents. The option was short-lived, first implemented in Oct. 2020, as a way to allow family members into the country during COVID border closures.

Currently, Singapore is monitoring 10 new clusters of COVID-19, including 61 cases linked to Jurong Fishery Port and six linked to KTV lounges. Since the start of the pandemic, Singapore has reported 63,924 cases.

Visa Specifics

In Singapore, every foreign national must hold an employment pass (the local term for work visa). The type of pass depends on the level of skill, type of activity, and length of stay in Singapore. The visa must be obtained before entering the country.

Employment Pass (EP) – For professionals earning at least SGD 4,500 per month, mostly at the managerial or executive level. An employer must apply on behalf of the visa-seeker. The visa is valid for 2 years and can be renewed for up to 3 more years at a time.

EntrePass – For foreign entrepreneurs who wish to open a business in Singapore. The candidate can apply for the pass directly. It is valid for 1 year and the first renewal is for 1 year. After that, it can be renewed for 2 year periods.

Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) – For the highest-skilled candidates earning at least SGD 18,000 per month or Employment Pass holders earning at least SGD 12,000 per month. Candidates can apply on their own and stay in Singapore for 3 years but cannot renew the pass.

S Pass – For mid-level skilled workers with a degree from an accredited institution and earning at least SGD 2,500 per month. The pass is tied to an employer, who must apply on behalf of the candidate. If the candidate changes jobs, the new employer must apply for a new S Pass. The pass is valid for 2 years.

Work Permit for Foreign Workers – For semi-skilled people working in construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector. Employers apply on behalf of the candidates. Valid for up to 2 years.

Training Employment Pass – For foreigners training in professional, managerial, executive or specialist jobs in Singapore and earning at least SGD 3,000 or studying at an accredited university. The pass requires sponsorship by a local institution. The pass is valid for 3 months.

Work Holiday Pass – For students and graduates 18-25 who want to work in Singapore. Valid for 6 months except for people from Australia, who get 1 year under the pass.

Other specialized passes exist for domestic workers, nannies, performing artists, and short term (60 day) workers.

Future Immigration
We are closely monitoring trends for relocation to Singapore, along with the ratio that determines whether future applications will be selected.

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