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Singapore Introduces New Work Visa Rules Designed to Entice Foreign Talent

Singapore Introduces New Work Visa Rules Designed to Entice Foreign Talent

As the global economy gradually shifts focus to technology, many countries are beginning to pave the way for the future economic boom. A major line of action being taken by these countries is harvesting tech talents from across the globe.

On Monday, Singapore announced new work visa rules designed to woo foreign talent as part of the country’s efforts to steer economic growth, accelerating recovery from covid-19-induced economic shortfalls.

Under the new visa rules which will be available from January, there is a new five-year visa for people earning at least S$30,000 ($21,445.42) a month. In addition, holders are allowed to work for multiple companies at one time and their spouses are granted work permits, according to the Ministry of Manpower.

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“We cannot leave any room for investors to doubt or have questions as to whether Singapore remains open,” Tan See Leng, the city-state’s Manpower Minister, told a news conference.

“As a country with little or no resources, talent is our only resource and talent acquisition is an offensive strategy for us,” he added.

Also, the rules created the Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) pass, allowing exceptional candidates in sports, arts, science and academia who don’t meet the salary criteria to hold a long-term visa. Other measures include allowing some tech professionals, whose skills are in short supply; to be eligible for five-year visas, up from two- to three-years currently, from September 2023.

The new rules also reduced the processing time for employment passes, typically granted to high-paid professionals, to 10 days.

“Both businesses and talent are searching for safe and stable places to invest, live and work in. Singapore is such a place,” Tan See Leng said on Monday. “It is therefore timely to leverage on this opportunity to cement Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent.”

Under the new visa rules, Singapore plans to exempt jobs from the need to be advertised locally before hiring foreigners under a system called Fair Consideration Framework. The measure, which will take effect from Sept. 1 next year, is a shift from the old rule which made only the top 10% of Employment Pass holders eligible.

Under a system called Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), jobs are advertised mainly for locals before they could be offered to foreigners.  The duration of FCF advertisements, where applicable, will be halved to 14 days, the ministry said, adding that processing time for all EP applications will be cut to 10 business days from the current maximum three weeks.

Singapore has remained a popular choice for foreign companies seeking to establish their base abroad. But the South Asian country introduced tight safety measures to curb the pandemic, resulting in population drop as many expatriates left the country.

But as the world increasingly wins the fight against the pandemic, Singapore is seeking to replenish its economic losses and to create an investment destination that will compete with other places like Hong Kong, the UK, Australia and the UAE.

“This is a much-needed progressive step that fills the gap. It feels like Singapore is really addressing the gap at the top end of talent, not just in terms of salary, but capabilities. Talent, globally, is quite mobile and there’s a number of competitive hubs that are trying to get access to that global talent,” said Amit Gupta, president of TiE Singapore, the Singapore chapter of the Silicon Valley-founded global non-profit organization that aims to build an entrepreneur ecosystem.

However, there is concern that the new visa rules will further harm the African tech economy. The continent’s aim to develop a tech-based economy is increasingly being undermined by talent poaching. With many of Africa’s top tech talent hoping to move abroad for a better life or work remotely for foreign companies that offer better pay, Nigeria for instance, will likely feel the impact of the new Singapore visa rules starting next year.

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