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Written answer by Minister of Manpower Dr Tan See Leng to PQ on number of foreigners who have entered Singapore through the Movement of Natural Persons provisions in FTAs and subsequently became citizens, PR or re-entered through another type of visa


MP: Mr Leong Mun Wai 

To ask the Minister for Manpower from 2005 to 2020, how many intra-corporate transferees, foreign professionals and dependants who have initially entered Singapore respectively through the Movement of Natural Persons provisions in the various free trade agreements subsequently (i) became citizens (ii) became permanent residents or (iii) re-entered Singapore’s workforce through another type of visa.


  1. Our records prior to 2014 do not distinguish between applications from overseas intra-corporate transferees (ICT) invoking provisions in the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO GATS) or other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). For overseas ICT applications invoking WTO GATS or FTA provisions, they are exempted from the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) job advertising requirement, introduced in 2014, because it would be illogical for a company to advertise a position intended for an existing employee.
  2. However, they are subject to additional checks to verify their eligibility under the WTO GATS or FTA provisions. These include their seniority, employment history, and relevant work experience. They are also subject to more conditions in their eligibility to bring in dependants, as well as apply for permanent residency or future employment in Singapore. Under WTO GATS and all FTAs, the government retains full rights to decide who can enter the country to live, work and become PRs or citizens.
  3. Out of the overseas ICTs who have come in via WTO GATS or FTA provisions between 2014 and 2020, on average around 30 persons a year have acquired permanent residency or citizenship.
  4. Between 2014 and 2020, on average around 140 persons a year who initially came in via WTO GATS or FTA provisions subsequently obtained another work pass that was processed and approved under the prevailing criteria. This is a negligible share of the overall number of EP holders approved each year, under our prevailing criteria.
  5. As for foreign professionals, the 6 July Ministerial Statements already explained that the professions listed in the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) do not have any bearing on how we decide on work pass applications. Their applications have to meet our prevailing work pass criteria. Similarly, all dependants who wish to enter are also subject to the usual prevailing criteria. It is therefore meaningless to ask how many of them entered through our FTAs.