Singapore to require Dependant’s Pass holders to obtain work passes

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that, from 1 May 2021, spouses and family members of foreigners working in Singapore who hold dependant’s passes (DPs) will also need to obtain a work pass in order to work in Singapore.

Currently, DP holders who want to seek employment are only required to get a Letter of Consent (LOC) from the MOM. The change means that spouses and other dependants of work pass holders will be subject to the same requirements as all other foreigners if they want to work in Singapore.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said: “We will provide sufficient time for existing DP holders working on an LOC, as well as their employers, to transition to this new arrangement. Most of them meet prevailing work pass criteria. Those that do not will have to cease working in Singapore.”

She said that DP holders represent only about 1% of all work pass holders. The move is intended to bring consistency to recent updates to the work pass framework and is in line with the tightening of other rules on family members of foreigners.

Existing DP holders who are currently employed can continue working until the expiry of their LOC. When it lapses, employers will need to apply for an applicable work pass if they wish to continue their employment. The relevant qualifying salary, dependency ratio ceiling, as well as levies for the respective work passes will then apply.

MOM said an exemption from the new rules will be granted for certain DP holders who run their own businesses with an LOC if these businesses create local employment. They will have to fulfil the following criteria:

  • The DP holder is a sole proprietor, partner or company director with at least 30% shareholding in the business;
  • The business hires at least one Singaporean or permanent resident who earns at least the prevailing Local Qualifying Salary (currently S$1,400) and receives Central Provident Fund contributions for at least three months.

If DP holders own businesses that do not meet the criteria, they will be allowed to run the business until the LOC expires. They may also apply for a one-off extension of their LOC until 30 April 2022 when next renewing their DP. From that date, they will need to meet the criteria to renew their LOC or obtain an applicable work pass to continue working in Singapore.

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