07 December 2011

Scrapping the Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate

The Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (“EPEC”) scheme was discontinued recently after being in force for almost 20 years as it had not met its aim of helping companies recruit good calibre candidates, according to Ministry of Manpower.

EPECs were previously issued to applicants who fulfilled certain criteria, such as possessing selected university qualifications or being current or former holders of selected skilled migrant visas, and were therefore likely to be eligible for an Employment Pass if they managed to secure employment here.  An EPEC was valid for two years and allowed its holder to stay in Singapore for up to one year to facilitate his/her job search in Singapore.

With the scrapping of the EPEC, foreigners graduating from selected institutions of higher learning in Singapore may henceforth apply for a one-year Long Term Visit Pass to stay in Singapore after graduation to look for a job.

Other foreigners may apply for a three-month Long Term Visit Pass.

The EPEC scheme appears to be one of those schemes that were introduced years ago, and then probably forgotten.  It is right and timely to withdraw it if it is not fulfilling its objectives.

But was the EPEC scheme necessary in the first place?  An EPEC allowed its holder to stay in Singapore for one year, but the holder was not permitted to work because the EPEC was not a work pass.  How did the holder sustain himself for one year if he did not work?  Or was the holder employed surreptitiously and illegally?  A three-month Long Term Visit Pass is more than enough.

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