What is the change? Singapore has announced plans for a pilot program to ease immigration requirements for tech workers.  

What does the change mean? The program, called Tech@SG, is set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. The program was designed to ease Employment Pass requirements for “core team members” of certain tech firms, with a focus on those in high-growth areas such as digital, medtech, biotech, cleantech, agritech and fintech.

  • Implementation time frame: The pilot is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2019, and will last for two years.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment Permits.
  • Who is affected: Tech companies in Singapore.
  • Business impact: Officials hope the program will help Singapore draw top foreign talent in the tech field to help grow the sector in the country.

Additional information: Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore announced the program in a statement released July 30. Few specifics were included on how the program will ease Employment Permit requirements, but the Straits Times quoted an EDB spokesman who said changes to the program could include “considering alternative factors in the application if needed, such as the stock options remuneration of the core team members, or if they have deep skills in place of formal academic qualifications.”

Singapore has stressed the importance of developing its local workforce. Chng Kai Fong, EDB Managing Director, said in the statement that the program will not only help companies fill their workforce needs, but will also create opportunities for local workers “to work in globally competitive teams alongside top engineers and entrepreneurs from all over the world.”

Analysis & Comments: The creation of Tech@SG is a major policy development for Singapore that could help tech companies meet workforce needs and remain globally competitive. Additional information is expected in the lead-up to the program’s implementation. Updates will be provided as information becomes available.

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