3 minute read
Immigration to Singapore and obtaining a work permit or residence visa can be a hassle for expats living on this beautiful island. Often a lawyer with connections is needed to help deal with paperwork and bureaucracy.
Luckily, SULOCHANA UTHIRAPATHI from Transform Borders is here to help! She is a lawyer specializing in Singapore immigration matters of all types. She knows firsthand how stressful it can be to have a work permit or an immigration issue. And she talks about all the work permit requirements for the new Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) introduced for Employment Pass (EP) holders in 2023. We sat down with her to find out more.
Tell us about Transform Borders and its beginnings.
When I was studying law in Australia, I inadvertently overstayed my visa. Appealing to the authorities to reinstate my visa was a very scary and difficult experience. Fortunately, I succeeded and ended up living in Australia for ten years as a lawyer. Back home, I worked for a company specializing in immigration in Singapore. It wasn’t until I helped a good friend get the right visa for her business that I decided to go out on my own as a lawyer. In 2017, I launched Transform Borders, and it was a very satisfying and action-packed adventure.
Who are your typical Singapore immigration clients and what types of work permits do you help with?
I represent a wide range of individuals and businesses in the area of immigration to Singapore. I see a lot of expats looking to apply for Permanent Residency (RP) and Letters of Consent (LOC), both of which have become more difficult to obtain in recent years. For PRs wishing to take the next step to becoming citizens of Singapore, I help them navigate the process.
Another popular service I offer is obtaining work permits for highly qualified individuals not tied to a specific employer through a Personalized Employment Pass (PEP). This is often a great way for a foreigner to stay in Singapore after losing a job. They can then look for a new position. My other areas of expertise include assessing S Pass work permit eligibility for mid-level skilled workers and Long Term Visit Passes (LTVP) for foreign spouses.
Many of my clients are expatriate business owners and entrepreneurs applying for an EP or EntrePass to work for their own business. Helping businesses with their work permit needs, including hiring non-local employees, is a very enjoyable part of my job. It is very gratifying to accompany entrepreneurs in the pursuit of their dreams.
What is COMPASS and what will it mean for expats?
Beginning September 1, 2023, PE applicants must pass a two-step eligibility framework. In addition to meeting the Stage One qualifying salary, EP candidates must also pass the points-based Stage Two: COMPASS. Simply put, COMPASS scoring will be based on criteria such as salary, qualifications, diversity (company related) and local employment support. There are also two additional criteria of skills bonus (list of shortage occupations) and strategic economic bonus (linked to the company) for companies that can meet the innovation or internationalization criteria.
As you can see, assessment under this new framework will be more complex and overwhelming for companies looking to hire staff with an EP work permit. As a Singapore immigration specialist, I am happy to help clients navigate these tricky changes. With my team, I can provide strategic advice on what customers can start doing now to prepare to meet COMPASS requirements. As a lawyer, I’m here to help you pave the way to success!
8588 8980 | transformborders.com
Now that we’ve sorted out your immigration issues, want to know where to live in Singapore? Lily This article to help you choose your new neighborhood!
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