A new long-stay visa for wealthy foreigners with special talents is being introduced in Singapore to boost the country’s competitiveness. Unlike Germany, where people with an inflatable boat have the best chance of settling down, Singapore sets higher standards to attract top executives and wealthy individuals.
The island nation of Singapore in Southeast Asia, known for its prosperity, is addressing the expected shortage of skilled workers by introducing an innovative visa. Announced last August and available to applicants since January this year, this new five-year visa is aimed at wealthy foreigners with a minimum monthly income of S$30,000 (equivalent to about US$22,600).
This visa, known as the “Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass” (ONE Pass), is a tailor-made entry permit for outstanding talent in various fields, such as business, arts, culture, sports, science and research. ONE Pass holders have the opportunity to set up, run and work for multiple companies in Singapore, offering unique flexibility.
The main purpose of the ONE Pass is to attract and retain professionals of international caliber who have already made significant contributions to the development of established companies. One of the requirements is that applicants have worked for a company with minimum capital of $500 million or annual sales of at least $200 million.
Sulochana Uthirapathi, Founder and Managing Director of Transform Borders, based in Singapore, explains: “The ONE Pass was created to attract talent who have excelled in their respective industries and have been instrumental in the success of the companies they work for. Therefore, a requirement is that they must have worked for an established company with significant market share.”
Artists, athletes, scientists and cultural workers of outstanding reputation are exempt from the income limit for the ONE Pass and can prove their qualifications instead.
Those who do not meet the specified monthly salary threshold of SGD 30,000 (approximately US$22,600) may still be considered for the ONE Pass provided they demonstrate outstanding skills and achievements. Singapore wants to position itself as a hub for talent and attract investors and international companies. The ONE Pass therefore enables these specialists to have an attractive and at the same time uncomplicated migration process to Singapore. The visa has an initial extension of five years and offers not only flexibility in employment but also opportunities for entrepreneurial activities.
The ONE Pass grants its holders the freedom to travel within and outside the country without restrictions and to set up companies. This visa also extends to spouses and children of the applicants up to the age of 21. It offers a long-term solution for stable residency in Singapore compared to existing visa options such as the widely used Employment Pass, which is often valid for two to three years.
Will the ONE Pass be enough for Singapore’s competitiveness?
Given the competition for capital and talent in the surrounding Asian economies, which have already adopted digital nomad and golden visa programs, will the ONE Pass be sufficiently competitive?
Experts are confident that this program will be competitive and appealing due to Singapore’s attractive characteristics such as location, political stability, low tax rates, low crime and diverse opportunities, especially for higher earners.
Sulochana Uthirapathi, Singapore-based Founder and Managing Director of Transform Borders, states: “I am confident that this program will be competitive and attractive to candidates. Singapore is attractive due to its location, progressiveness, political stability, low tax rates, low crime rate and enormous Opportunities always a coveted location for resettlement, especially for high earners.”
Singapore’s established reputation as a thriving business hub and livable city gives the country a competitive advantage. However, there are also potential downsides, such as the comparatively high cost of living, including rising rents and international school fees. These costs could make markets like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia look more attractive. However, the cost could be reasonable for candidates who are eligible for the ONE Pass.
The ONE Pass as the key to Singapore’s economic future
As Singapore has limited natural resources, immigration plays a crucial role in boosting its economy. Over 44% of the population was born abroad and immigrants have been instrumental in making the country what it is today. In this regard, the ONE Pass is considered essential to Singapore’s continued prosperity.
In a ministerial address last September, Singapore’s Labor Minister Tan See Leng emphasized the importance of the ONE Pass for the country’s future: “For Singapore, where our people are our most valuable resource, getting this right is crucial. In order to provide a high-quality, To build an inclusive and sustainable economy – be it in green tech, AI or fintech – we need to attract the best talent from around the world. These talents are the ones who are changing the world; we hope to attract them to Singapore to benefit from theirs benefit from their expertise and learn from their networks.”
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