Since November last year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has introduced new conditions for foreign employees employed under the Intra-Corporate Transferees (ICT) scheme, as reported by The Business Times. This scheme allows for overseas employees of multinational companies that have a presence in Singapore to be posted here for work.
In the past, employees who were Intra-Corporate Transferees were allowed to bring their family members along with them to Singapore via dependant’s passes or long-term visit passes. Under the new conditions, ICTs are no longer allowed to do so. However, countries that have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore are exempted from this rule. This means that families of India and Australia can still apply for dependent’s passes or long-term visit passes for their family members under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement and the Singapore-Australia FTA respectively.
Intra-Corporate Transferees are considered Employment Pass (EP) holders. In fact, less than 5% of EP holders are ICTs, according to the Business Times report. While the new conditions now disallow ICTs from countries with no FTAs with Singapore to bring their family members over, EP holders can still do so. They are generally eligible to bring their family members over on a dependent’s pass or long-term visit pass provided they meet certain criteria.
Although ICTs must meet EP criteria, there are additional requirements before an applicant can qualify as an ICT.
An Intra-Corporate Transferees (ICT) Must Hold A Specific Position In The Company
As mentioned above, Intra-Corporate Transferees are employees of multinational companies who are brought in from overseas offices. They are typically here for a short period of time – not exceeding five years – for work purposes or to assist in setting up a Singapore branch.
There is a strict definition on who qualifies as an ICT under the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), or any applicable free trade agreements to which Singapore is party. An ICT must be in one of the following roles below:
- Primarily directs the organisation or a department or sub-division of the organisation.
- Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees.
- Has the authority to hire and fire or take other personnel actions (such as promotion or leave authorisation).
- Exercises discretionary authority over day-to-day operations.
- Primarily directs the management of the organisation.
- Exercises wide latitude in decision-making.
- Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the business.
- Possesses knowledge at an advanced level of expertise.
- Possesses proprietary knowledge of the organisation’s service, research, equipment, techniques or management.
Intra-Corporate Transferees (ICTs) Have To Be Existing Employees Of A Company
Under the WTO GATS, Intra-Corporate Transferees must be working for the company that is outside of Singapore for at least one year before being posted to the branch, affiliate or subsidiary here.
This means companies cannot hire a manager, executive or specialist and have the person sent here immediately. When applying for an EP for the ICT, businesses must submit an organisational chart of the company in Singapore, demonstrating the person’s position in it. In situations where the applicant is a specialist, the individual’s job description should show that the applicant possesses knowledge at an advanced level of expertise.
ICTs Must Still Meet The Employment Pass (EP) Criteria
Since Intra-Corporate Transferees (ICTs) are EP holders, they must still meet the EP criteria set out by MOM. These are:
- Applicants must have a job offer in Singapore.
- They must be drawing a minimum salary of $4,500 a month. Older, more experienced workers need higher salaries to qualify. For EP candidates in the financial services sector, the minimum qualifying salary must be $5,000 a month.
- The EP candidate must have acceptable qualifications, usually a good university degree, professional qualifications or specialised skills. Qualifications must be from an accredited institute.
ICTs Cannot Stay For More Than 5 Years, Extend Their Employment Or Apply For PR
Intra-Corporate Transferees (ICTs) who come to Singapore for work are limited to a 3-year term. It may be extended up to 2 additional years, but the total term of an ICTs duration in Singapore cannot exceed 5 years. They are also generally not eligible for future employment upon expiry or termination of their pass. They are also not eligible for permanent residency (PR). This differs from EP holders, who are eligible to apply for PR through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
Hence, it may become less common / practical for employers to use the ICT route to apply for EPs, especially if their employee has an advanced specialisation.
ICTs Position Does Not Need To Be Advertised On MyCareersFuture
Under the Fair Consideration Framework, before employers can submit an application for an EP, they must first advertise the job on MyCareersFuture, stating the job requirements and salary offered. The advertisement must be open for at least 28 days to allow job seekers to view and apply for the vacancy. Employers are only allowed to make an EP application once the 28-day period has ended. However, if the vacancy is to be filled by an Intra-Corporate Transferees (ICTs), the employer is not required to advertise on MyCareersFuture.
Although ICTs make up just a small group of foreign employees in Singapore, the new conditions laid out by the Ministry of Manpower last year will likely see fewer companies applying for employees to enter Singapore via the ICT route and instead apply for employees and their families through the EP scheme, which requires the vacancy to be advertised first.
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