What is the change? The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is rejecting work pass applications for all foreign workers from mainland China until further notice as a precautionary measure to limit any potential risk on the spread of the coronavirus.

What does the change mean? MOM is rejecting all new work pass applications for foreign workers from mainland China and is instructing existing work pass holders who have traveled to mainland China during the last 14 days to take a 14-day leave of absence on arrival in Singapore.

  • Implementation time frame: Jan. 31.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work passes.
  • Who is affected: Work pass holders from mainland China and their employers.
  • Impact on processing: New work pass applications for foreign workers from mainland China will be rejected. Work pass renewal applications are not affected.
  • Business impact: Companies employing foreign workers from China may experience delays and disruptions related to employee mobility and availability.
  • Next steps: Employers are advised to check for updates on coronavirus-related developments.

Background: Since the coronavirus was first detected in December, countries in the region have issued travel bans and warnings to prevent the further spread of the virus. Last week, Singapore began rejecting new work pass applications from Hubei Province, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.

Analysis & Comments: The extension of the new work pass application ban to all of mainland China indicates that the government could implement further immigration restrictions in response to the coronavirus epidemic. Employees traveling from China with valid work passes will still be allowed to enter Singapore; however, they must remain at home for 14 days on returning. In this regard, MOM has stated it will hold both employees and their employers responsible for ensuring the proper execution of quarantine measures. Deloitte will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they become available.

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