MOM clarifies differences between ICT, other EP holders

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Employers may be less inclined to apply for EPs via the ICT route and instead advertise on MyCareersFuture.sg

FOREIGN employees of multinational corporations who are posted to the company’s Singapore branch as an intra-corporate transferee can no longer bring their family members with them via dependant’s passes or long-term visit passes.

Intra-corporate transferees (ICT) are employment pass (EP) holders, and must have worked for their company for at least one year before being posted to the branch, affiliate or subsidiary in Singapore.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) began drawing a clear line between these foreign employees and other EP holders in November last year.

However, an exception applies to intra-corporate transferees coming from a country that has a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore that allows them to bring their families with them.

This means that the family of workers from India and Australia, who are covered by the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement and the Singapore-Australia FTA respectively, can still apply for dependant’s passes or long-term visit passes, subject to prevailing criteria.

MOM said that an intra-corporate transferee is allowed entry into Singapore for a period strictly limited to the provision under the applicable FTA. “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,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The number of intra-corporate transferees in Singapore has consistently been below 5 per cent of all EP holders in Singapore, a Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson said in August last year.

There were 189,700 EP holders as at June 2020, down from 193,700 in December 2019, MOM’s website stated.

In an article published on Lexology on Jan 4, Baker McKenzie lawyers noted that MOM’s move reinforces the ministry’s goal in building a Singapore core among employers.

“Despite the prevalence of employers using the ICT route to obtain EPs, this change is likely to lead to more employers being less inclined to apply for EPs via the ICT route and instead go through the normal process of advertising on MyCareersFuture.sg,” wrote Celeste Ang, Kelvin Poa and Ng Zhao Yang.

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