Experts at Google and Bain and Company predict that the Singaporean tech market will triple to more than US$350 Billion by 2025. First launched in January 2021, the Tech.Pass aims to capitalise on this growth.
Targeted towards recruiting digital pioneers and leaders, the Tech.Pass is a type of Work Pass that aims to invigorate the high growth tech industry in Singapore by allowing tech experts to relocate to the country. With their resources, expertise, direction and innovative capabilities, these leaders can guide Singapore to the forefront of innovation.
5 Key Facts on Tech.Pass
- Tech.Pass is designed specifically to attract and retain top-tier tech talent in leadership positions from around the world.
- The Tech.Pass will be valid for two years, and pass holders can apply for one-time renewal for another two years.
- Being an individualised pass, Tech.Pass holders are able to take on multiple roles concurrently in Singapore.
- Holders are able to sponsor stay for spouse, children, and parents in Singapore on either a Dependant’s Pass (DP) or a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) issued by MOM.
- Applicants need not secure a job in Singapore prior to their application and applicants are eligible to apply for the Tech.Pass without an Employer’s sponsorship.
Who is the Tech.Pass for?
The Tech.Pass is designed for highly accomplished tech experts, founders, and top foreign tech professionals from well-known and fast-growing tech companies all over the world. The creation of this pass is part of Singapore’s initiative to to position itself as a leading global technology hub. Some examples of the sectors that the Tech.Pass covers are, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing and data analytics. Through this initiative, Singapore hopes to propel itself to the forefront of disruptive technology whilst upskilling their own workforce.
The Tech.Pass targets individuals in tech earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$20,000 (or its equivalent in any foreign currency) in the last 12 months—roughly equivalent to the top 10% of EP (employment pass) holders. This includes highly accomplished tech entrepreneurs, business leaders and tech experts, such as university professors and researchers. The pass provides plenty of flexibility for these professionals to contribute to the tech ecosystem.
What are Some Examples of a Qualified Talent?
The pass is aimed at experienced professionals at the mid-to senior-levels, which Singapore lacks. Mid to senior-level leaders and executives temporarily plug the gaps in Singapore’s talent pool, impart expertise to upgrade the domestic workforce and provide key resources to stimulate research, development and innovation.
Some examples of qualified Tech.Pass holders would be experienced leaders who are currently employed at industry leaders such as Amazon, Google or Facebook, in roles like Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), or Director of Technology. Others include university professors and senior researchers, noted for their deep technical expertise and mentorship.
How Do I Qualify for the Tech.Pass?
To qualify for the Tech.Pass, the individual must meet any two of the three criterias:
- Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary of at least S$20,000 (or its equivalent in any foreign currency) during the last 12 months.
- Candidates with annual income that cumulatively exceeds S$240,000 (or its equivalent in any foreign currency) will also be considered.
- Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a managing role in a tech company with:
- a valuation or market cap of at least US$500 million; OR
- at least US$30 million funding raised.
- Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product (e.g., made major contributions to the design or/and deployment of a tech product) that has:
- at least 100,000 monthly active users; OR
- at least US$100 million annual revenue.
What Criteria Do I Need to Meet to Renew My Pass?
The Tech.Pass will be valid for 2 years, and pass holders can apply for one-time renewal for another 2 years. To be eligible for renewal, the pass holder must meet some criteria.
Firstly, they must have earned a minimum of S$240,000 in assessable income. This includes salaries and/or business income, based on the latest Notice of Assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
Alternatively, one can demonstrate an annual total business spending of at least S$100,000 and employ at least one local PME (Professional, Manager, Executive) or LQS (Local Qualifying Salary).
Additionally, one needs to be performing at least two of the following roles, with at least one of which must be in Category (A):
|Category A||Category B|
|Founded a company in Singapore, offering a tech-based or tech-enabled product or service.|
Served a leading role (e.g. CEO, CTO, APAC MD) in a Singapore-based tech company
Served a leading role in two or more Singapore-based tech companies
Employed in a technical role leading a team in a Singapore-based company (e.g. senior engineer or senior researcher leading a team in a particular tech field)
Employed in a technical role leading a team in two or more Singapore-based companies
|Served on Board of Directors of a Singapore-based company (need not necessarily be tech company)|
Acted as advisor / mentor to a Singapore-based start-up
Served as professor / lecturer / adjunct professor / adjunct lecture in a Singapore Institute of Higher Learning (IHL)
Provided training in some form not covered by B2 or B3 above (e.g. workshops, corporate training classes).
Invested in one or more Singapore-based tech companies
These requirements ensure that Tech.Pass holders continue contributing to the economy by generating income, increasing business investments and creating employment for locals.
What are Some of the Benefits of the Tech.Pass?
The Tech.Pass is an individualised pass. Unlike other Work Passes, a Tech.Pass holder is not tied to a company, which has certain advantages:
- Tech.Pass holders have the flexibility to transition between employers without the need for sponsorship or a new job offer, allowing them to explore different career avenues and seize new opportunities. In other words, they need not apply for a new pass with every job switch.
- Tech.Pass holders can leverage their expertise and experience to become tech entrepreneurs, mentors, consultants, or lecturers, fostering innovation and knowledge-sharing in the tech ecosystem.
- Tech.Pass holders can be employed by multiple companies simultaneously, broadening professional networks and diversifying skill sets. Tech.Pass holders can also hold directorship and invest in more than one tech company, opening doors for involvement in multiple ventures and strategic decision-making.
- The Tech.Pass recognises the importance of family support. Tech.Pass holders can bring their spouse, children, and parents to Singapore. This enables families to enjoy the high-quality education, healthcare, and lifestyle Singapore has to offer.
Overall, the Singapore Tech.Pass empowers tech professionals with unparalleled flexibility, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the ability to shape their career trajectory in the vibrant and innovative tech landscape of Singapore.
Are Tech.Pass Applicants Subject to the COMPASS Framework?
As of September 2021, the Tech.Pass program in Singapore does not fall under the COMPASS framework.
The Compass framework was introduced in 2023 to ensure a balance of local and foreign talents in Singapore’s companies. As the framework is specifically tied to the Employment Pass, it does not apply to the Tech.Pass programme.
As a Tech.Pass Holder, Can I Work for Multiple Companies at Once?
Tech.Pass holders are allowed to work in multiple companies at once. The goal of the Tech.Pass is to provide industry leaders with a chance to participate and develop Singapore’s tech industry. For example, a pass holder could operate a business, while also being an investor, employee, consultant or director in one or more Singapore-based companies at any time. They can also mentor start-ups and lecture at local universities.
What If I am Unemployed After Getting the Tech.Pass?
Due to its individualised nature, the Tech.Pass grants holders grace to find new employment should they find themselves unemployed. However, holders must find new employment as quickly as possible. Entrepreneurial holders can use their passes to start new businesses, thus qualifying as “self-employed”.
However, MOM will request information from pass holders from time to time to ensure that they are contributing meaningfully to the economy over time. Should there be extended periods of economic inactivity with no good reasons, MOM may cancel the pass.
Can I Incorporate or Start My Own Company in Singapore as a Tech.Pass Holder?
The Tech.Pass immigration scheme offers the advantage of starting your own tech company or even multiple companies in a straightforward manner. Tech.Pass holders are allowed to serve on the Board of Directors of a Singapore company and can be investors in multiple Singapore-based companies, regardless of whether they are tech-related or not.
If you are currently employed under the Tech.Pass and have a business idea, you can easily transition from an employee status to an entrepreneur without the need for complicated application procedures. Since the Tech.Pass is not tied to a specific employer or company, you can establish your own company without applying for different passes.
Incorporating a tech company in Singapore can strengthen your eligibility for Tech.Pass renewal, providing the opportunity to extend your pass for an additional two years, subject to meeting the relevant renewal criteria outlined in the programme.
Starting your own company under the Tech.Pass program allows you to embrace entrepreneurship, tap into Singapore’s supportive business environment, and potentially contribute to the growth and innovation of the tech industry.
How Do I Apply for a Tech.Pass?
The application process takes around 8 weeks from when all documents are in order. It may take longer if additional information is required.
What is the Tech.Pass Application Process Like?
Applying for a Tech.Pass can be quite difficult due to the complexity and stringent nature of its application process. The application process is mainly done online:
- Submitting an application to EDB and MOM
- Preparing to enter Singapore
- Getting the Tech.Pass issued
- Registering personal biodata and information
IASG has helped numerous Tech.Pass holders secure their passes. We provide a thorough assessment of your professional background, advise you on the strengths of your profile and undertake the entire Tech.Pass application process on your behalf.
I am Interested in Applying for the Tech.Pass with IASG. What are the Required Documents?
EDB has laid out the following criteria:
Criterion 1 : Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000, or its equivalent in foreign currency.
- Applicant’s payslips for the past 3 months, or latest tax statements
Criterion 2 : Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market capitalisation of at least US$500mil or at least US$30mil funding raised.
- Company valuation report, annual report or financial statements, with company valuation highlighted
- Company funding data
- Other documents indicating valuation, e.g. public sources such as Pitchbook or Crunchbase
Criterion 3 : Have at least 5 cumulative years of 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$100mil revenue.
- Product Monthly Active Users reports
- Screenshots of application download figures
- Other documents indicating product monthly active users or revenue generated from such products (e.g. pitch document)
Non-English documents must be accompanied by an English translation. You are allowed to use a translation service for this.
Can I Bring My Family Over to Singapore with Me on a Tech.Pass?
Tech.Pass holders are allowed to bring their family members to Singapore. Family members can move to Singapore on either a Dependent Pass (DP), or a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) issued by MOM. Both the DP and LTVP will last two years, the same as the Tech.Pass.
Family members that are eligible for a DP issued by MOM:
- A legally married spouse;
- Unmarried children under 21, including those legally adopted.
Family members are eligible for an LTVP issued by MOM:
- A common-law spouse;
- Unmarried disabled children above 21;
- Unmarried step-children below 21;
I am the Spouse of a Tech.Pass Holder. Am I Allowed to Work?
The DP and LTVP enables the spouse to seek employment without the need for a separate work visa or work permit.
The spouse’s potential employment is subject to the relevant employment regulations and requirements set by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore. The spouse will need to secure a job offer and fulfil any necessary criteria to obtain a valid work permit or Work Pass, depending on the nature and duration of the employment. A Letter of Consent is required if the Dependant or LTVP holder wishes to work or run a business in Singapore.
Spouses working under the DP can only be employed by one employer at a time, including self-employment. Spouses who are business owners are considered employed by their own business, and thus cannot start another business or gain additional employment on the side.
I am the Spouse of a Tech.Pass Holder Who Wishes to Run a Business in Singapore. Am I Allowed to Do So?
Spouses of pass holders are allowed to start their own business in Singapore, provided they do not hold multiple forms of formal employment at once. In other words, the spouse can only be employed by their own business.
DP-holding business owners must first apply for a Letter of Consent and register their businesses with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority).
To be eligible for the Letter, spouses must fulfil one of the following criteria:
- The spouse must be the sole proprietor of an ACRA-registered business
- The spouse must be a partner of an ACRA-registered business
- The spouse must be a company director with at least 30% shareholder’s stake in an ACRA-registered business
The spouse must employ at least one Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident, who must earn at least the prevailing Local Qualifying Salary. The spouse must provide CPF contributions to local staff for at least 3 months.
What Happens after I Get the Tech.Pass?
Must I pay Income Tax as a Tech.Pass Holder?
Tech.Pass holders may be required to pay income tax.
As foreigners, Tech.Pass holders must pay income tax if they fall under any of the following categories:
- Foreigner who has stayed/worked in Singapore:
a. For at least 183 days in the previous calendar year; or
b. Continuously for 3 consecutive years, even if the period of stay in Singapore may be less than 183 days in the first year and/or third year; or
- Foreigner who has worked in Singapore for a continuous period straddling 2 calendar years and the total period of stay is at least 183 days*. This applies to employees who entered Singapore but excludes directors of a company, public entertainers, or professionals.
I am No Longer Working in Singapore and Wish to Return Home for Good. Must I Cancel My Pass?
The procedure for cancelling a pass is similar to that of other pass cards.
Pass holders no longer working in Singapore and are leaving the country permanently must cancel their pass within 1 week before their departure.
Pass holders who cancel their pass will also have their family members’ DPs and LTVPs cancelled automatically. These passes cannot be reinstated. Pass holders can request a 90-day Short Term Visit Pass (STVP) to buy them time for departure.
Cancellation takes effect within 3 days of submission. Pass holders and employers cancelling on behalf of their employees should cancel their passes using MOM’s online form. No fee is needed to cancel the pass.
I Lost My Tech.Pass Card. What Should I Do?
The procedure for reporting a lost, damaged or stolen Tech.Pass card is similar to that of other pass cards.
Pass holders who have lost, damaged or gotten their cards stolen must apply for a new card within 1 week of the loss. There are fees associated with replacing a card and the new card can be collected within 4 days of submission.
For stolen cards, a police report must be lodged. If the card was lost, stolen or damaged abroad, MOM must be informed immediately so that a letter permitting entry into Singapore can be issued. All requests must be made by the pass holder and NOT the employer.
How Does the Tech.Pass Differ from the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass (ONEPass)?
ONE Pass is targeted at exceptional talent across various sectors, including the tech industry.
- The qualifying criteria for ONE Pass holders is much higher than that of Tech.Pass. For example, ONE Pass holders must earn a minimum of $30,000 monthly, roughly equivalent to the top 1% of EP holders; the Tech.Pass requirement is lower.
- ONE Pass is a general pass specifically directed at senior-level leaders or pioneers across a wide variety of fields. On the contrary, Tech.Pass is a specialised pass targeted at mid to senior-level experts working in tech.
- Unlike the Tech.Pass, which is valid for two years and can be renewed once for an additional two years, the ONE Pass offers a longer validity of five years. Furthermore, the ONE Pass allows for multiple renewals of five years each, provided the individual meets the renewal eligibility criteria.
Can a Tech.Pass Holder Apply for Singapore PR?
Tech.Pass holders and their immediate family members are eligible for Singapore Permanent Residence.
For more information on Singapore PR eligibility and procedures, you may refer to our resources on Permanent Residency.
Tech.Pass Application For Foreign Tech Specialists
The goal of the Tech.Pass is to drive Singapore’s economic growth by catalysing the growth of the tech sector. By attracting top tech talents, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, addressing talent gaps, and fostering a collaborative ecosystem, the Tech.Pass propels Singapore’s economy forward, positioning it as a global leader in technology and innovation.
For Tech.Pass and Singapore PR enquiries, please call +65 6493 1830 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.