Singapore is tightening restrictions on intra-corporate transferees, one category of workers brought from overseas offices of multinational corporations, the Straits Times reported.

Intra-corporate transferees are a common feature of free-trade agreements worldwide that, for example, allow professionals to move for short periods to set up offices or for temporary projects, the Straits Times said. Intra-corporate transferees pass holders make up less than 5% of employment-pass holders in Singapore.

The changes could reduce the number of dependents’ pass holders entering Singapore and send a stronger signal that multinational corporations need to give consideration to hiring locals before transferring in a foreign employee, said the article, citing observers of the situation. The developments could also discourage employers from applying for employment passes via intra-corporate transfers, the paper said.

Employment pass holders in Singapore declined 2% from December 2019 to June 2020, the paper reported, citing the Ministry of Manpower. EP holders need to earn a monthly salary of at least $4,500.

Among the changes to the foreign workforce that have been made recently:

Get the latest Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

- Transferees won’t be allowed to remain in the country for a limited period to find a new job if their work passes are canceled, while Employment Pass holders are permitted to remain for a short time if they meet specific criteria

- Since November, intra-corporate transferees have been told they can’t bring family members to Singapore via dependents’ passes or long-term visit passes, though employment-pass holders can do so if they meet qualifying criteria, the paper said.