Thursday, 23 July 2015

Higher salary bar for foreigners seeking family visas

By Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent and Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 22 Jul 2015

Foreigners working in Singapore are going to find it harder to bring their families over.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is raising the minimum salary bar before they can apply for visas for spouses, children and parents. From Sept 1, they will have to earn at least $5,000 a month if they want to apply for Dependant's Passes (DPs) for their spouses and children to join them in Singapore. This is up from the current $4,000.

Those who want to bring their parents to Singapore on Long Term Visit Passes (LTVPs) face an even higher minimum salary bar of $10,000 a month, up from $8,000.

The changes, which were updated on the MOM's website in the last week, come after the ministry said employers looking to hire foreign professionals will face tougher rules from Oct 1.

"The Government updates the DP/LTVP qualifying salary from time to time, to ensure that sponsors will be able to upkeep their dependants," an MOM spokesman said yesterday. "We continue to welcome highly skilled foreign professionals who wish to bring their dependants to stay with them."

The move will affect foreigners on S Passes and Employment Passes (EPs). According to the MOM's website, there were 178,900 people on EPs and 170,100 on S Passes as of December last year.

The minimum salaries for foreigners bringing in their families were last adjusted in 2012. Before that, S Pass holders who earned more than $2,800 and EP holders could bring in their spouses and children.

Ms Cai Bi Xia, general secretary of the Huayuan Association which helps Chinese nationals settle into Singapore, said the move signals that the Government wants to attract foreigners of a certain calibre. It will put pressure on firms to raise salaries to attract this group, which is also sought after by other countries. "Companies need to recognise the higher salary requirement and raise pay accordingly to attract the talent they want," she said.

Mr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting, noted that raising the minimum salary will ensure that foreigners can support their families here.

But he warned that the move may make Singapore less attractive to foreigners in the long run.

"When senior managers relocate to another country, they would want to bring their family," said Mr Leong. "(The change) will make people who are moving to Singapore think twice about doing so.

"It discourages them from bringing their families and sends a signal to come alone, which may make other countries more attractive."

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said: "It is a necessary rationalisation as hiring one foreign professional can open the door to, say, four others in his or her family, which can impose a cost on society. By reviewing the benchmark, the door remains open but there is a more judicious management of the inflow."

Accountant Benjamin Ang, 32, said: "I hope that this means there are more chances for promotion. With the changes, foreign professionals might be discouraged from coming here to work.

"This could be an opportunity for locals to work harder and excel."

Higher salary bar for foreigners who want visas for their families. They would need to earn at least $5,000, from...
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MOM's rule change 'won't affect hiring'
Higher wage bars for foreigners bringing family here unlikely to alter practices: Firms
By Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent and Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 23 Jul 2015

The move to raise the minimum monthly salary bars for foreigners seeking to bring their families to Singapore will not affect how employers hire or pay foreigners.

Employers say that although there is demand for good foreign talent, they will not raise the salaries of foreigners just so they can bring their families here.

"Employers generally do not top up or raise salaries just to match a higher salary criteria," said interior furnishings firm Goodrich Global's chief executive, Mr Chan Chong Beng. "They will look at the candidate and the market rate before determining the pay."

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chief executive Victor Mills agreed that the move is unlikely to cause a major upheaval for companies.

As it is, many foreign executives no longer base their families in Singapore, mainly because of the high cost of living.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) announced on its website last week that foreigners here have to meet higher minimum salary bars before they can apply for visas for spouses, children and parents.

From Sept 1, they will have to earn at least $5,000 a month if they want to apply for Dependant's Passes (DPs) for their spouses and children to join them in Singapore. This is up from the current $4,000.

Those who want to bring their parents to Singapore on Long Term Visit Passes (LTVPs) are subject to a minimum salary bar of $10,000 a month, up from $8,000.

There are about 179,000 people on Employment Passes (EPs) and 170,000 on S Passes.

The MOM declined to say how many of them are currently sponsoring their families here on DPs and LTVPs.

The last time such data was disclosed was in 2012. Then Manpower Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a reply to a Parliamentary question that the Government issued an average of 35,000 DPs and LTVPs each year to foreigners on EP between 2005 and 2010.

Human resource experts said that foreigners earning between $4,000 and $5,000 a month who do not meet the higher minimum salary to bring their families here are mostly middle managers.

"They have lower bargaining power than senior executives whom companies, especially multinationals, will go all out to attract to Singapore," said human resource consultant Martin Gabriel from HRMatters21.

"Now that they cannot bring their families here, they may bargain in other areas, like longer annual leave so that they can go back to see their families," he added.

The higher requirements are not likely to pose a problem for employers, recruiters said.

Even if some foreign job applicants are discouraged from coming to Singapore, the demand for workers is still less than the supply of candidates, said AYP Associates managing director Annie Yap.

Mr James Kow, head of business at PeopleSearch, said: "If companies genuinely can't get any Singaporeans and they need to find foreign talent to fill the gap, this is not going to make a difference."

Not all will be hit by new rule
The Straits Times, 23 Jul 2015

Foreigners who already have their families here and those who have applied to bring them here do not have to worry about the higher minimum salary bars announced last week.

This is because the new rules will not apply to them, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday in a statement. But there is a catch when the Dependant Passes (DPs) for spouses and children, or when the Long Term Visit Passes (LTVP) for parents, are up for renewal: the foreigner cannot switch employers.

"We treat any change in employer as a new application," the MOM said.

While the concessions may bring some relief to foreigners who already have families here, it does not bring cheer to those who are thinking of bringing their families to Singapore.

A 29-year-old assistant customer service manager from the Philippines, who earns about $3,000 a month, said: "It makes me feel that only certain types of foreigners are more welcome here... I have a wife and a two-year-old son that I left behind. My current salary does not qualify me to bring them here and the new salary requirement will make it even harder."

No comments:

Post a Comment