On 12 November 2020, Singapore announced that in a bid to look ahead towards the future for its economic recovery, the country will be releasing a new work pass – the first new work pass in years. This new work pass, known as the Tech.Pass, is part of Singapore’s strategy to remain open and attract highly-skilled foreign professionals onshore in order to secure the country’s economic competitiveness in the years to come, as it develops future industries like e-Commerce, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cyber Security.
A study conducted by Temasek, Google and Bain & Company published earlier in the week revealed that Singapore’s Internet Economy is set to reach US$22 billion within the next 5 years, and that the country hosts the largest amount of headquarters of companies with valuations of over US$1 billion in the Southeast Asian region.
Singapore is in many ways, a regional leader. It has amassed its soft power influence through strategic economic agreements and by keeping its borders open to foreign businesses. In a geopolitical landscape where retaining one’s position as a regional leader is pivotal, Singapore aims to do so through its open economic outlook. In a time when countries have closed their borders to foreign professionals, Singapore has opened the door.
The Tech.Pass is a strategic move on the part of Singapore to economically recover and compete. Key tech professionals that qualify for the pass will bring to the country’s tech ecosystem: capital, connections, knowledge, and opportunities for the local population. As the tech sector is meant to be a key factor driving Singapore’s economic growth, having industry leaders onshore that can facilitate this push, as well as train the local workforce to be the next industry leaders, ensures that Singapore is able to bolster its economic security. Therefore, at a time when Covid-19 has caused many countries to close off to the world, Singapore seeks to recover and build its resilience by opening its borders to key professionals.
Additionally, Singapore’s foray into establishing a new work pass for tech professionals is also in a bid for the country to retain its soft power influence on the global economic platform. China, France, and Thailand have all staked claims into hunting for key tech industry leaders and attracting them to their shores, creating special visa programs for them. Singapore cannot afford to be left behind. Being a small country where human capital is the only resource it possesses, it needs to leverage on its openness and position as a global hub to entice key foreign professionals onshore to increase the overall value of its workforce, and retain its leading position as a tech hub in the region. The Tech.Pass which works harmoniously with the Tech@SG Program, seeks to do just that.
For now, there will be only 500 passes available annually, making it an extremely competitive employment pass to attain. Applicants need to meet a list of stringent criteria in order to qualify for this pass. Unlike the other work passes in Singapore, Singapore’s Economic Development Board will oversee the processing of the Tech.Pass applications (with the support of the Ministry of Manpower).
To qualify for the Tech.Pass, applicants need to meet 2 out of the following 3 criteria:
- A last drawn month salary of at least $20,000 in the last year.
- At least 5 years of cumulative experience in a leading role in a tech firm with a valuation or market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or at least US$30 million funding and beyond.
- At least 5 years of cumulative experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100 million in revenue.
What are Tech.Pass holders able to do in Singapore?
- Start and operate a business in Singapore.
- Serve on the board of directors of a Singapore-based company or be a shareholder or investor in companies onshore.
- Take up lecturing roles in institutes of higher learning.
- Serve as a mentor or adviser to companies here and conduct corporate training or workshops.
This pass will have a 2-year validity period, and a one-time renewal for a subsequent two years that hinges on various requirements that include: earning at least $240,000 in assessable income over the two years they have spent in Singapore, or demonstrating total annual business spending of at least $100,000. Applications for the Tech.Pass will begin in January 2021.
How can IASG Help?
As a consultancy that provides a one-stop solution for all inbound immigration matters, IASG will be aiding qualified individuals in their applications to receive the Tech.Pass. With only 500 spots open annually currently, this will be a highly competitive and sought-after pass amongst tech professionals globally who want to further their trade and be part of Singapore’s dynamic economy. The IASG team will provide a strong representation of clients’ application profiles towards EDB to ensure they have the best chance of getting their approval outcome. Whatever the outcome may be, the IASG team will take clients through their post-outcome steps and provide expert advisory, as well as aid them and their immediate family members in getting properly set-up in Singapore with minimal hassle.