From January 2021, the government of Singapore issued a new work permit known as Tech Pass that was designed to attract highly accomplished experts, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. This Singapore Tech.Pass is intended to recruit foreign expertise to the lion city’s rapidly growing tech industry. In this article, we take a look at this pass and how you can kickstart your career in one of the most fascinating tech hotspots in the world.
Related Read: Singapore: The Digital Capital of Asia »
Table of Contents:
What is the Singapore Tech.Pass Program?
The Tech.Pass program is an extension of the well-known Tech@SG program which was designed to assist fast-growing companies to assess much-needed talents required to scale up their business both in Singapore and in the region. Under the Tech@SG program, companies and businesses that were considered eligible were provided with up to 10 employment passes for foreign employees to join the workforce of the company and work in core roles within the company. The immediate benefit of this program is that the rate of rejections for foreign employees seeking to gain these passes has significantly reduced.
To contribute further towards Singapore advancing as a tech hub in the region, the Singapore Tech.Pass was designed. It was expected that under this program, the talent pool within Singapore would be widened and the local tech ecosystem would be enhanced.
2. What are the benefits afforded to Singapore Tech.Pass holders?
One major advantage that is afforded to Singapore Tech.Pass holders is that they are provided with a higher degree of flexibility. The pass is valid for up to 2 years, therefore during the period, its holders are permitted to engage in a wide range of activities such as:
- Running or even starting up a tech company within Singapore.
- Working as a director within one or more tech companies within Singapore
- Being able to invest in one or more companies based in Singapore.
- Working as an employee at any time within those two years in one or more companies based in Singapore
- Conducting corporate workshops or training
- Conducting lectures within institutes of higher learning in Singapore
Related Read: A Beginner’s Guide for Incorporating Tech Start-ups in Singapore »
3. How is the Singapore Tech.Pass different from Employment Pass?
The Singapore Tech.Pass offers a wide array of advantages that are not available for holders of the Employment Pass or any other passes that are available in Singapore. For instance, individuals are free to apply for the Tech.Pass even without sponsorship from an employer. Simply put, you do not need to be employed in Singapore for you to be able to apply for the pass.
If you are a holder of the Employment Pass, you can upgrade and apply for the Singapore Tech.Pass, as long as you meet all that is required for applicants. Also, as has been discussed above, with the Tech.Pass, you are free to engage in several activities that are not afforded to holders of the Employment Pass. For instance, Employment Pass holders are not permitted to switch jobs between different employers, even if all the employers are based in Singapore.
4. When can an individual apply for the Singapore Tech.Pass?
The Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore is responsible for administering the Tech.Pass, which was first launched in January 2021 for individuals to start the application process.
Initially, the government of Singapore provided only 500 places for applicants, and these were administered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once issued, if the two-year period elapses and the pass expires, you are free to renew the pass for another two years, as long as you meet the conditions stipulated.
However, the Singapore Tech.Pass program will still be subjected to reviews to determine whether the intended benefits to the local tech ecosystem are being realized. This means that individuals and other stakeholders will be interviewed, and if the outcome of these reviews is positive, then the Singapore government would consider launching more Tech.Pass in Singapore.
5. What are the requirements for Singapore Tech.Pass Application?
The EDB has outlined a general set of conditions for applicants of the Tech.Pass to meet. All applicants need to ensure that they meet two out of the following three requirements:
- Your basic monthly salary as stipulated in an employment contract within the last one year amounts to at least S$20,000. If you are a business owner, then the annual business income should be more than S$240,000.
- You have 5 or more years of experience working in a leading role within a tech company with a market or valuation cap amounting to at least US$500 million or have raised US$30 million of funding.
- You have 5 or more years of experience working in a leading role in the design and roll-out of a tech product that has at the very least 100,000 monthly active users or that has drawn US$100 million in annual revenue.
6. How do you renew a Singapore Tech.Pass?
As discussed above, the Singapore Tech.Pass has a validity of up to 2 years, after which it can be renewed. To qualify for a renewal, you need to ensure that you meet the following two conditions:
- You have a total earned income of at least S$240,000, either for a business income or from a salary or both.
You have a total annual business spending of at least S$100,000 and have employed at least 1 local executive, manager, or professional with a monthly income of at least S$3,900, or 3 residents who earn S$1,400 per month and have been receiving CPF contributions for at least 3 months.
- You have achieved at least two of the following achievements, with one of them from the first five conditions:
- You have founded a Singapore-based tech-related company.
- You have served as a CTO, CEO, APAC MD in a Singapore based tech-company
- You have worked in a leading role in at least two Singapore based tech companies
- You have worked in a technical leadership role, such as a senior researcher or engineer
- You have worked in a technical leadership role in at least two companies in Singapore
- You have worked as a director in a company in Singapore
- You have served as a mentor or an advisor of a start-up in Singapore
- You have provided corporate training or workshop classes
- You have worked as a lecturer, professor, adjunct lecturer, or adjunct professor in a Singapore Institute of higher learning
- You have invested in at least one tech company in Singapore.
Related Read: Overview of Singapore Relocation and Employment Visas »
In essence, the Singapore Tech.Pass serves as a fundamental step for Singapore to continue attracting tech talent to become the next big tech hotspot. At SCI, we ease your application process through our comprehensive immigration services. So make your mark in the tech industry sector by taking the first step with us!
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