Employment Pass renewals undergoing greater scrutiny

2 Mar 16

SINGAPORE

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Employment Pass renewals are undergoing increased scrutiny, but only certain applications are being flagged as suspicious. In particular, officials are watchful for applications from newer entities with a high ratio of foreign to Singaporean workers or instances where a foreign employee receives a sudden salary increase to meet Employment Pass criteria.

What does the change mean? In general, applications from established companies without any unusual changes are being renewed as usual. Renewal applications that raise the suspicion of immigration officers are not being renewed for a full two-year period, but instead are being approved for a shorter one-year period.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment Passes.
  • Who is affected: Companies sponsoring foreign workers for Employment Passes.
  • Business impact: Employers should review their policies and make sure they are in compliance with all regulations and be prepared for possible requests for additional documentation when renewing Employment Passes.

Background: The Ministry of Manpower appears to be reviewing renewal applications more closely. Officials may request additional supporting documentation or reverification of educational degrees, for example. Applications in which an employee’s salary is suspected of being boosted to qualify for an Employment Pass instead of an S Pass (or an S Pass instead of a Work Permit) may also raise red flags.

BAL Analysis: In general, larger established companies with appropriate ratios of foreign workers as determined by the ministry and without any unusual changes to foreign employees’ salaries have not been affected by the increased scrutiny and are not experiencing difficulty in renewing Employment Passes for the full two years. BAL is following trends in approvals and enforcement and will update clients on any significant developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact singapore@balglobal.com.

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