Intra Corporate Transfer

Singapore is an economic and financial hub for many multi-national and foreign owned companies. As a result, the requirement for intra-corporate transfer or rotation of an employee from the head office to Singapore is often a business requirement. These are typically for senior management or highly specialised skilled employees which are not readily available in Singapore.

A Singapore Employment Pass work visa is required when a foreigner wishes to relocate and work in Singapore. While in the past, an application can be made once a decision has been made about the foreign employee relocating to Singapore, companies must now consider the fair employment practice framework in Singapore prior to the application of Singapore Employment Pass. This requirement has been further tightened recently in Sep 2020 when companies are required to advertise their vacancies in the government owned job portal known as for 28 days instead of 14 days. This longer timeline may cause delays in business operations and planning if not taken into account in the initial stage of the relocating process.

However, some companies may meet the requirements and qualify for Intra-Corporate Transfer which will exempt them from the requirements to post the vacancies in the government job portal prior to the application of Singapore Employment Pass. Singapore generally comply with the strict definition of intra-company transfer under the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) or any applicable free trade agreements to which Singapore is a party.

In evaluating whether a particular candidate would qualify for Intra-Company Transfer, the Ministry of Manpower may request documents such as head office organization charts that demonstrate the relationship between the group of companies and the position the candidate within these group of companies.

An Intra-Company Transfer must have worked for the company or organisation outside of Singapore for at least one year before being considered for posting to the branch, subsidiary or affiliate in Singapore. Where the applicant possesses specialist skills or knowledge, their stated job description would be required to demonstrate his or her level of expertise.

Intra-Corporate Transfers are restricted to a three-year term, but this may be extended for up to two additional years, for a total term not exceeding five years.

Other than Intra-Corporate Transfer, the Singapore government also permits the following exemptions from the advertising requirements where one of the following criteria is met:

■          The company has fewer than 10 employees.

■          The fixed monthly salary of the job position is more than S$22,500.

Notwithstanding the above categories of exemptions, it may be wise for the employers to plan early when making decisions about relocating employees from head office to Singapore. As the job advertisements on government job portal is free, Employers should advertise all positions to facilitate access to a larger pool of local candidates and to demonstrate that the company is serious in complying with fair employment and practice open and merit-based recruitment practices.

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