From 1 May onwards, spouses or family members of foreigners working in Singapore on Dependant’s Passes (DPs) will need to obtain a work pass to work in the city-state, instead of a letter of consent, said the Ministry of Manpower on Wednesday (3 Mar).
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said during her Committee of Supply earlier today that the change was made “for consistency with recent work pass moves”.
This means that DP holders’ employers will need to apply for an Employment Pass (EP), S Pass or work permit for them—instead of the letter of consent that they currently use—including the relevant qualifying salary, quotas and levies.
MOM noted that existing DP holders who are currently employed on a letter of consent are allowed to continue working but they would still need to obtain a work pass when their current letter of consent expires.
“We will provide sufficient time for existing DP holders working on a LOC [letter of consent], as well as their employers, to transit to this new arrangement.
“Most of them meet prevailing work pass criteria. Those that do not will have to cease working in Singapore,” said Mrs Teo.
She revealed that DP holders working in Singapore on a letter of consent represent about 1 per cent of all work pass holders.
DP holders who are business owners, on the other hand, will be allowed to continue running their businesses with a letter of consent if their businesses create local employment.
In order to be qualified for this, they will have to be either the sole proprietor, partner or director with at least 30 per cent shareholding in the business, said MOM.
It added that the company must hire at least one Singaporean or permanent resident (PR) who earns at least S$1,400 and receives Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for at least three months.
If DP holders failed to fulfil these criteria, they will be allowed to run their businesses on their existing letter of consent until its expiry, or apply for a one-off extension until 30 April next year when they next renew their dependant’s pass.
“Thereafter, they will need to meet the criteria… in order to renew their LOC, or obtain an applicable work pass to continue working in Singapore,” said the Ministry, adding that more details of the changes will be released on 1 May.
“Letter of Consent has been a loophole for a long time”
Penning their thoughts under the comment section of CNA’s Facebook post, many netizens pointed out that the letter of consent scheme has been a “loophole” for “a long time” and the Ministry has just realised it now.
Though they agree that the new rules are necessary, they said the changes made by MOM was “long overdue”.
Some netizens asked why DP holders were even allowed to work in Singapore with a letter of consent in the first place, saying that such a scheme would mean that DP holders are no longer dependants but have similar qualifications as those work pass holders.