Singapore chapter meeting success!
The first FEM of year was focused on the recent changes of immigration legislation in the Asia region, particularly in Singapore. The discussion was led by Ms. Christina Karl, BAL Managing Director, Asia.
The forum provided a substantial information on current employment visa trends related to governmental policy, current challenges that HR and Mobility professionals may face in 2016 and Business traveler compliance and best practices.
The introduction of the current workforce statistics gave a better picture on the latest Singapore policies. The government’s push to hire Singaporeans first as per the FCF policies also offer a significant impact on the foreign employment growth. The slow or decline of foreign employment rates were expected to continue as levy increases for S-Passes and work permits. The Government is devoting its attention and resources toward strengthening the skills of Singaporean citizens.
Singapore created two new boards named:
a. “SkillsFuture Singapore” (focused on building education and skills of the local population)
b. “Workforce Singapore” (support Singaporean workers in employment and career development).
To encourage local talents, the government launched Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which requires companies to advertise job openings (National Job Bank) for a minimum of 14 days before being able to submit for an Employment Pass application. This requirement only applies to initial EP applications, not renewals. The National Job Bank intends to be a ‘one-stop public jobs resource’ for positions available in Singapore. The advertisement posting automatically stops after 30 days, and 90 day maximum posting per advertisement.
Current Trends in Singapore market:
The authorities are continuing to tighten the foreign labor market. There is an increase in enforcement actions across the board: penalty of jail time and significant fines for providing fraudulent information and other illegal hiring practices.
- Increasing Justification for Foreign Hires in Indonesia, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
- ASEAN countries are improving immigration record keeping by integrating with police and government intelligence agency databases.
- Entity Issues - Companies are challenged more and more today due to lack of entity set up in either a country or a specific location in that country.
- Exit Requirements in Philippines and Malaysia involve more documentation for certain visa/professional pass holder.
- Personal and payroll tax information part of work visa document and renewal process requirements are requisite in Philippines, India and Thailand.
Best practices for Business travelers - be clear on what activities are allowed as a business visitor in the destination country.
- Indonesia closely watches out for foreign nationals working while on a business visa.
- Thailand narrow field of business activities may be conducted on a business visa
- China allows fairly broad activities on business visa.
- Singapore allows certain activities to be conducted with online work pass exemption notification.
Asian countries have made great efforts in recent years to attract foreign investors and to continue the economic growth of the region. Immigration regulations remain one of the biggest challenges facing foreign companies who are looking to expand operations as most Asian countries have complicated and lengthy immigration process. Companies looking to open branch offices or send employees must be aware of the timing and requirements in each country in order to plan business goals and projects effectively.