As a nation shaped by constant migration, about 40% of Singapore’s total population are either migrants or descendants of early colonial period migrants such as Indians, Chinese and Malays. With the arrival of the British with Sir Stamford Raffles, the influx of migrants heightened in conjunction with new trade and commerce opportunities. There was little or no control on immigration. Foreign workers came and went according to service demands.
Control was first actually enforced during the 1919s in the form of the “Passengers Restriction Ordinance” to regulate the arrival of newcomers. Then in 1933, with the establishment of the Immigration Department, the “Aliens Ordinance” was enforced introducing a fixedquota for alien immigration.
Ammended ten times since 1966, the Singapore Immigration Act is the all- encompassing statute for immigration in Singapore.Today the term immigrant workers is used to separatethe foreign workers from the foreign talents.
- Foreign workers referred to semi-skilled or the unskilled workers whose main work is in the manufacturing, the construction and domestic services sectors. The majority of them comes from places such as, Myanmar, People’s Republic of China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Pakistan, as part of bilateral agreement between Singapore and these countries.
- Foreign talents on the other hand, refers to foreigners with qualifications or acceptable degrees working at the higher end of Singapore’s economy. They come from, Australia, the Pbhilippines, India, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China, Malaysia. Japan, Europe, Republic of Korea, United States and New Zealand.
The Singaporean government constructed a system under of whichdifferent employment types passes (EP) are then issued to the immigrant workers classifying themwith their qualifications and the monthly salaries. The “P, Q, R” employment pass system was put into practice in September, 1998; a new “S” type employment was later introduced in July, 2004. The government has also set different policies on recruiting foreign talents and foreign workers.
At present, the Singapore government issues the EP under three categories:
- P1 Employment Pass for the individuals with themonthly earnings of $8,000 and up.
- Individual Employment Pass included is the monthly income of $4,500.00to $7,999.00.
- Q1: Employment Pass to people with at least monthly income of $3,000.00.
The government of Singapore introduces new immigration policy towards “Foreign Talents” and “Foreign Workers” that have led some people to feel that their contributions to Singapore’s development has valued differently. However, Singapore government has always stressed the importance of immigrants workers to its economy and development.
About their immigration policy non-residents working in Singapore will require a work visa. There are various types of Singapore working visas starting from work permits for the low-skilled labourers, to P1 and P2 category Employment Passes to attract niche professionals with good credentials in both education and work experience.
From 1 September 2012, only workers with theincome of at least SGD4,000.00 (USD3,150) every month can then sponsor their spouses and as well as children for thestay in Singapore however some of them are not allowed to bring their parents and other relatives on long-term visit passes. The new regulations also impacts those who transfercompanieson/after the date. The increase from SGD2,800 to SGD4,000 was to ease public disquiet over the influx of workers from overseas.