Singapore’ s [email protected] programme and the Tech. Pass aim to facilitate the development of Singapore’s technology industries and ecosystem by making it easier for local tech companies to recruit skilled foreign talent.
The [email protected] programme is one of many schemes introduced to drive Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. Launched in 2019 and jointly administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore, [email protected] aims to attract established and fast-growing tech companies with the commitment and ability to build teams and products to set up operations in Singapore. It is also designed to help Singapore-based technology companies recruit highly skilled foreign talent so that such companies can grow and scale their business in the region.
The benefits of the [email protected] programme include company-level endorsement to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for up to 10 new employment passes (EPs) valid for two years for foreign employees who are hired as part of the company’s core team, thereby reducing the risk of rejection. [email protected] also will support the first renewal of those EPs.
To qualify for the [email protected] programme, a company must meet the following requirements:
- Be a business entity incorporated in Singapore with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
- Have a digital or technology offering as its core business product or service (for example, software-as-a-service, e-commerce, digital media, digital gaming, medtech, biotech, cleantech and fintech companies).
- Secure more than USD 10 million (cumulative) in investment funding in the past 36 months.
- Receive funding (no minimum amount) from a [email protected] investment firm in the past 36 months.
Foreign employees must meet the following requirements to qualify for an EP:
- The applicant’s fixed monthly salary must meet the MOM’s minimum prevailing EP salary criteria.
- The applicant must pass the MOM’s background and due diligence checks.
- The applicant must have a core business role (e.g., business development, human resources, finance, partnerships, strategy, general management) or a technical role (product management, product development, software engineering, solution architecting, product design, data science)
- The applicant must be a manager-level and above employee.
Companies with 30% or more local shareholding must submit their [email protected] application to Startup SG (an entity under Enterprise Singapore) instead of the EDB.
After 10 successful EP applications or two years of support, whichever is earlier, EDB/Enterprise Singapore will notify companies that their support will come to an end.
Tech.Pass is an extension of the [email protected] programme. It is a visa targeted at established tech entrepreneurs, leaders, founders and technical experts with experience in established or high-growth tech companies. Tech.Pass is administered by the EDB and has been open for applications since January 2021, with up to 500 passes available for the first tranche.
Tech.Pass provides pass holders with the flexibility to perform any of the following activities concurrently:
- Start and operate one or more tech companies.
- Be an employee in one or more Singapore-based companies at any time.
- Move between employers or to an entrepreneur.
- Be a consultant or mentor, lecture at local institutions of higher learning, or be an investor. and director in one or more Singapore-based companies.
To qualify for Tech.Pass, applicants must meet at least two of the following criteria:
- Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last year) of at least SGD 20,000.
- Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market capitalisation of at least USD 500 million or at least USD 30 million in funding raised.
- Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role (e.g., design, development and/or deployment) of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least USD 100 million in annual revenue
The Tech.Pass is valid for two years and can be renewed for another two years, if the passholder meets the following conditions:
- Have earned at least SGD 240,000 in assessable income based on the latest Notice of Assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (can be made up of salaries and/or business income); OR
- Demonstrate total annual business spending of at least SGD 100,000 and employ at least one local PME (professionals, managers, and executives who are Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents, earn a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 3,900 and receive CPF contributions for at least three months), or 3 LQS (Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents who earn a monthly salary of at least SGD 1,400 and receive CPF contributions for at least three months); AND
- At the time of renewal, be performing at least two of the following roles, at least one of which must be in Column (A):
As part of Singapore’s efforts to remain competitive, the [email protected] and Tech.Pass programmes aim to develop a strong base of technology companies and talent, which help to cement Singapore’s status as a global technology hub. With the recent introduction of the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass (“ONE Pass”), the EDB is reviewing the possibility of merging the Tech.Pass with the ONE Pass.
Wu Soo Mee
BDO in Singapore