It was reported in the media today that since 2 months ago (Nov 2020), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has started drawing a clear line between foreigners working in Singapore as intra-corporate transferees (ICT) and those working here on employment pass (EP) (‘MOM clarifies differences between ICT, other EP holders‘, 11 Jan).
Foreign employees of multinational corporations who are posted to the company’s Singapore branch as an ICT can no longer bring their family members with them via dependant’s passes or long-term visit passes. That is to say, their family members can no longer apply for dependant’s or long-term visit passes.
However, ICTs do enjoy an advantage. According to MOM’s website, the advertising requirement on the national Jobs Bank under the Fair-Consideration Framework (FCF) does not apply to jobs to be filled by ICTs.
“However, to be exempted, the Employment Pass candidate would have to meet the stringent definition of ICTs 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,” MOM said.
Under WTO GATS, an ICT must be in one of these roles: Manager, Executive or Specialist. Additionally, under WTO GATS, an ICT must have worked for the company outside Singapore for at least 1 year before being posted to Singapore. ICTs can also work in Singapore for up to 5 years.
In response to media enquiries with regard to its latest restriction, a MOM spokesperson added, “An ICT is also generally not eligible for future employment in Singapore upon the expiry/termination of his/her work pass, or for permanent residency.”
The number of ICTs in Singapore has consistently been below 5 per cent of all EP holders in Singapore, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said last year.
ICTs via CECA not restricted in bringing in family members
The new restriction on ICTs bringing in their family members under dependant’s or long-term visit passes, however, would not apply to a country that has a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore that allows them to bring their families along.
Indeed, under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) signed between Singapore and India, ICTs can apply for dependant’s or long-term visit passes for their family members to come to Singapore, subject to prevailing criteria.
Not only they can live in Singapore, they can work here too. Under the section on “MOVEMENT OF NATURAL PERSONS” of CECA, the agreement states:
Also, the ICT rules for CECA are more relaxed than those under WTO GATS. Under CECA, ICTs can work in the foreign country for up to 8 years instead of 5.