After the 2011 elections, the government responded to the people’s call for tighter immigration policies with more stringent work pass application process and the introduction of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) in 2014. In light of such developments, remember these 5 points by heart when you start recruiting new employees in 2019.

Professionals holding up a speech bubble

Voice out if you feel like you’re untreated unfairly, whether it’s work or outside of it.

1) Consider Alternative Work Passes

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Making the right choices could mean less headaches for you.

What’s up: MOM is becoming more stringent with work pass applications and renewals.

The foreign visa application process is much more stringent now, in 2017 the rejection rate increased by 10 folds from 2016.

What this means: Companies can expect delays and complications throughout the EP application process.

Try this: Apply for alternatives such as a Letter of Consent (LOC) for candidates who fulfill the required conditions such as holding a dependant pass tied to an EP or Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) for foreign professionals whose last drawn salary is minimally S$18,000 a month, or for EP holders who earn at least S$12,000 per month.

2) You really need to comply with the law

Hammer used in court of law

Compliance is your fastest route to a possible acceptance of your work passes.

What’s up: For companies that fail to comply with Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), they get put on MOM’s watch list.

Being placed on the MOM’s watch list could also be a code name for trouble.

Your company’s hiring practices will be scrutinized by the MOM and all renewals/ applications of work passes could be stuck in the processing system from anywhere between a few months till up to a year.

This would definitely jeopardise your company as your employees would not be able to continue working should their work passes not be renewed in time.

What this means: Don’t take risks when it comes to the law.

Thinking of some risky short-term immigration strategies to tackle your manpower crunch before work passes get approved? Eg: Tourists/Business visas?

No, don’t do it.

Candidates travelling frequently to Singapore before the work pass approval risk getting deported as immigration officers could perceive this as a pretext for commencing employment before their valid work pass arrives. A deportation and subsequent appeal would cause a delay of at least two months.

Try this: Plan your application in advance and review tourist/business visa applications

Think long-term and include buffer time in your application process to avoid being caught in a manpower crunch! If travelling is required before the work pass is approved, activities should be limited to meetings and discussions.

Still unsure? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

3) Manage sensitive data carefully

Spreadsheet containing statistical values

Personal data and behaviours are inherently sensitive information, take extra precautions making sure they’re safe.

What’s up: On 21 November 2017, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) incorporated additional recruitment questions to the EP application form, concerning the employer’s recruitment methods and data on the company’s pool of candidates.

What this means: Companies have to collate sensitive information.

Companies have been branding themselves as equal-opportunity recruiters who value skills and experiences over one’s nationality. Therefore, recruitment questions regarding one’s race and nationality are frowned upon as they can be perceived as “discriminatory”.

With this new requirement, many companies are now caught in the middle. How does one collate such information without coming across as being biased and thus jeopardizing their company’s reputation?

Try this: Include explanations as general disclaimers in your application form.

MOM explains that these questions are not discriminatory by nature; rather, it is to facilitate the monitoring of companies’ compliance with the FCF.

Through including disclaimers, companies would be able to maintain transparency throughout the data collection process and consequently, instill trust and confidence in candidates.

4) Reconsider your talents’ salary

Drawing of three people holding a giant cheque and pen

Having a fair salary structure for your employees usually makes them more likely to continue working with you.

What’s up: the salary threshold for Employment Pass (“EP”) and S Pass holders wishing to sponsor dependant family members into Singapore has been increased to $6,000 to bring spouse and children and $12,000 to bring parents. Qualifying salary for an S Pass holder has also increased to $2,300 from 1st Jan 2019 and $2,400 from 1st Jan 2020.

What this means: Companies may lose foreign talents due to work pass renewal failure as a result of failing to meet the required salary.

A key consideration for many individuals migrating to Singapore is being able to relocate with their family. Therefore, this could be a deal-breaker for some.

Try this: Assess prospective employees’ eligibility to relocate here with their family from an immigration perspective.

Such an issue is a big factor many would take into consideration when immigrating, thus as hiring managers, we should factor this into our hiring considerations and strategies.

Ensure you make it clear to prospective foreign employees about such legislation and assess their reception towards relocating to Singapore without their family should they not qualify to bring family over.

5) Increasing Administrative costs

Woman holding pen above a file binder with lots of notes

Would you rather pay for administrative fees multiple times because of minor details or let a professional like us help?

What’s up: From April 2019, there will be an increase in application and renewal fees for the various work passes

Merely applying for an EP would cost you $105 and $225 for issuance/renewal while an SP would cost you $75 for application and $100 for issuance/renewal starting April 2019.

What this means: Companies may incur more costs with each application especially if they keep getting rejected.

Try this: Engage the services of an Immigration specialist to help you save time and money

Here at Transform Borders, our service doesn’t just end at getting your work pass approved. We will be with you every step of the way, from strategizing to keeping you in the loop about changes in immigration policies and advising you on how to cope with the changes.


Reach out to us for a complimentary 10 minute consultation if you want to increase your chances of approval for PR today!

Co-written by Wong Jiayi & Sulochana Uthirapathi