What is the change? In an unannounced change, the Ministry of Manpower has added several significant new questions to the Employment Pass online application form that must be answered by companies sponsoring foreign workers.

What does the change mean? The questions seek details about the company’s efforts to hire Singaporean candidates for the job, how many Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals applied for the job, how far each candidate got in the hiring process, and up to three reasons why the company decided not to hire a local candidate.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment Passes.
  • Who is affected: Singaporean companies applying for Employment Passes.
  • Business impact: Companies will need to revamp their hiring practices, track each job candidate through each stage of the recruitment process and be prepared to document the numbers of candidates as well as the reasons for hiring foreigners over local workers.
  • Next steps: The new questions may delay Employment Pass applications that are currently being prepared but have not yet been filed, as those companies will need to gather additional information about their recruitment process and try to account for each candidate that applied for the job. Employers will need to implement procedures to track the necessary information about their hiring and recruitment process.

Background: The new questions were noticed on the Employment Pass Online application Friday, Nov. 10. Employers must now answer the following additional questions under Section F – Job Advertisement Information:

  • Has your firm searched for candidates for this job using recruitment methods and channels (other than Jobs Bank)?
  • Which recruitment methods and channels did your firm use? Choose from the following: job advertising websites, newspapers, trade publications/magazines, employment agencies, personal networks of existing employees, the company’s talent pool, or other.
  • Provide the number of Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who (a) applied for this job, (b) were interviewed for this job, (c) were offered this job, and (d) were hired for this job.
  • Our firm has considered local candidates fairly and is applying for this Employment Pass because local candidates (choose up to three of the following): lacked technical skills/expertise, lacked “soft” skills such as communication or leadership, lacked relevant industry or target market experience, lacked good qualifications, had salary expectations that our company could not meet, turned down our offer, did not show up for the interview, or insufficient candidates applied or showed up for the interview to fill the number of available vacancies.
  • How did your firm recruit this Employment Pass candidate? (choose one): local job websites, foreign job websites, newspapers, trade publications/magazines, local employment agencies, foreign employment agencies, personal networks of existing local employees, personal networks of existing foreign employees, your firm’s talent pool/portal, or other.

BAL Analysis: The changes will have a major impact on how companies manage their recruitment and hiring practices, as they will need to more carefully track and document their recruitment methods, as well as the immigration status of each job applicant and his or her progress through each stage of the recruitment process.

The new questions signal that the Ministry of Manpower is serious about protecting the local workforce and moving toward stricter labor market testing in line with other countries’ practices. The changes are also consistent with recent changes to the National Jobs Bank, which now closely tracks whether employers have reviewed and considered all applications that are submitted in response to a job advertisement.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact

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