SINGAPORE: Stringent Checks on Academic Qualifications for Work Permit Applications

The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) in Singapore has announced in May 2015 that stringent checks on academic qualifications will be enforced for S Pass and Employment Pass applicants.

Employment Pass and S Pass applicants are required to declare their qualifications and working experience in their applications. The MoM assesses each application based on a combination of factors including qualifications, working experience and salary. Academic qualifications are an important part of the assessment, although not the determining factor.

Under the new rules, candidates with academic certificates from accredited schools should be granted a work pass if they meet the minimum salary and experience criteria. Accredited schools are generally ones which are recognised by the Singapore”s Education Ministry based on the quality standards of their education.

Those with academic certificates from unaccredited schools will have their certificates disregarded. This will not automatically render the application unsuccessful and a work pass may still be granted, but only if candidates are able to meet more stringent salary and experience criteria. To illustrate, the minimum required salary for an S Pass is SGD 3,000 per month. The MoM may require that the minimum salary threshold is raised, where the academic certificate has not been awarded by an accredited school.  However, these more stringent requirements will be applied on a case by case basis and the MoM has not announced blanket thresholds for such cases.  This introduces a greater degree of subjectivity (and therefore uncertainty) in the decision making process for those without accredited qualifications.

Candidates with forged academic certificates may be fined up to SGD 20,000, imprisoned and/or barred from working in Singapore for the rest of their life.

We therefore advise that employers take steps to verify the authenticity and quality of the academic qualifications for foreign nationals they wish to hire, as any mistakes may have significant consequences, both for the individual as well as the business, reputationally. Employers should also be prepared to increase the salary of the candidate they wish to hire, if they do not hold a qualification from an accredited school. 

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