Bar Raised For Employment Pass Holders To Bring In Family As Dependants

From 1 September 2015, eligible Employment Pass (EP) or S Pass holders in Singapore will need to meet a minimum fixed monthly salary of S$5,000 to be eligible to apply for Dependant Pass for their legally married spouse or children aged up to 21, to stay in Singapore. The raised salary threshold is in place of the prevailing eligibility requirement of S$4000 per month.

 

 

 

To be eligible to apply for Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) for their parents, S Pass and EP holders need to be earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$10,000 (up from S$8,000).

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced the revisions on 16 July 2015 and added that the revisions were the outcome of its regular periodic review of sponsorship criteria to ensure that the S Pass and Employment Pass holders are able to upkeep their families here.

All new applications received prior to 1 September 2015 will be assessed under the pre-September criteria.  Renewals of DP and LTVP will also be based on pre-September criteria provided that the main pass holders remain with the same employer.

Impact on foreigners seeking jobs in Singapore

For foreigners looking for a job in Singapore, if you wish to bring your spouse or children into Singapore on a dependant pass during the period of your employment in Singapore, you would need to make sure that you are offered a minimum monthly basic salary of S$5,000.

In the event of accepting jobs in Singapore that pays lower than S$5,000 you would need to make suitable arrangements for the upkeep of your family back home during your period of employment in Singapore. Discuss with your potential employer about the possibility of meeting the salary requirements stated by the MOM. Alternatively, you could take up the job and take part-time courses to upgrade your qualifications so that your employer is keen to retain you on a higher salary. Otherwise, you could find another job with the monthly basic salary requirement that will enable you to bring your family into Singapore.

If bringing your family along is a basic requisite, but you are not able to find a job in Singapore that meets the revised criteria then you may have to reconsider coming to Singapore for potential employment.

Impact on foreigners employed in Singapore

If you are a foreigner already employed in Singapore under an Employment Pass or S Pass, and you have a family staying in Singapore under Dependant Pass Scheme, you do not need to worry. All renewals of Dependant Passes and LTVP will be carried out according to the prevailing criteria but you will have to continue to work for your current employer in order to enjoy this privilege.

If you plan on switching jobs, you will have to ensure that you are offered a monthly pay package that meets the minimum revised criteria, in order for your family to keep their Dependant Pass(es).

Singapore, with their pro-family stance, is not keen on pursuing policies that will displace families, and undermine family well-being. The revised criteria will only be applicable in the event of an employment change. This is to ensure that main pass holders give ample consideration and review the pay package against new economic conditions to be able to continue to upkeep their families in Singapore. It is also to create a level playing field for Singaporeans, existing foreigners in Singapore, as well as the potential foreign talents available for all job openings.

Current EP or S Pass holders who are intending to bring in their family to Singapore on Dependant Pass, should expedite the process and file their applications before September 1 2015. Doing so will entitle their applications to be assessed under the Pre-September criteria.

Impact on Singaporeans

Singaporeans may laud at the prospect of competing on a much more level playing field. In fact, they will have an edge over the foreigners as many employers may find it difficult to raise the salary of their potential foreign employees to meet the raised salary criteria. They will be keen on employing only locals. This means that Singaporeans will find more job openings to choose from. Some employers may feel that the competition for locals in the job market and may raise the salary of the locals in order to retain them in the company. Singaporean job seekers could negotiate for a higher salary at the time of job offer.

Impact on employers

Employers may have to brace for higher salary demands by both their local employees as well as new incoming foreign employees which may hurt their profitability. Employers will have to explore other means of reducing their manpower requirements and could alternatively tap on technology to enhance productivity. However, jobs that will be affected by the revisions are mid-level jobs where the probability of deploying technology to replace manpower for these jobs appear to be minimal.

With employers already facing a tough labour market situation with the tightened salary requirements for employment passes, and the bar raised for requirements to obtain Dependant passes, the potential foreign talent pool will be severely diminished, as many of them will look for job opportunities elsewhere. Employers will have to offer higher salaries for foreigners or relook at their business plans and budgets. Some companies may also have to defer growth plans.

However, employers should not feel pressured about raising the salary for their existing foreign employees as the new criteria will only affect new foreign employees.

Impact on Society

The influx of foreigners will decline, bringing down the common complaints of locals about the overcrowding and unfair competition for jobs and housing.  However, Singapore will remain open to foreign talents of high calibre. The quality of workforce will be refined further with an increased propensity of knowledge transfer and intellectual engagements at workplaces which will also tighten the competition among the workforce. Thus, increasing  the productivity and competitiveness of the economy as a whole.

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