Singapore looks to lure global entrepreneurs, talent with Tech.Pass visas

New Tech.Pass initiative to lure entrepreneurs and technical experts with experience in 'established or fast-growing' tech companies to the lion state is part of the government's efforts to develop a local tech business hub.

Singapore to use Tech.Pass visas to lure entrepreneurs

Singapore is offering two-year visas to technology entrepreneurs or technical experts with experience in "established or fast-growing" technology companies to join the country's tech ecosystem. The "targeted" Tech.Pass programme is part of the government's efforts to develop a tech business hub and create opportunities for its local talent. 

Launched on Thursday, the new initiative, Economic Development Board (EDB), would provide pass holders with the flexibility to participate in a variety of activities, including starting and operating a business, assuming the role of an investor, mentoring startups, or lecturing at local universities. They also could be an employee, consultant, or director in one or more Singapore-based companies. 

A government agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, EDB said the Tech.Pass visa would be valid for two years and renewable for another two years if the holder met the required criteria. They would also be able to bring along their spouse, children, and parents. 

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To be eligible for the visa, applicants would need to fulfil at least two stated conditions, including having a last-drawn fixed monthly salary of at least SG$20,000 and at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company, which either has a market cap of at least $500 million or raised at least $30 million in funds. They also could have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product with at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least $100 million in annual revenue.

To have their Tech.Pass visas renewed, holders would have to earn at least SG$240,000 in assessable income or demonstrate total annual business spending of at least SG$100,000 and employ at least one local professional. They would also need to perform at least two of a list of required roles, which includes founding a company in Singapore that offers tech-based or tech-enabled products or services as well as a leading role in two or more Singapore-based tech companies. 

Tech.Pass will begin accepting applications in January 2021, with 500 visas available at launch on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

The programme is an extension of the Tech@SG initiative that was introduced in 2019, which aimed to support the expansion of companies with high potential in Singapore. 

Together, both schemes looked to pave the way for fast-growing tech companies as well as established tech talent to enter Singapore, bringing along their networks and experience, said EDB. 

"This is part of Singapore's multi-pronged approach to develop a strong base of technology companies and talent to ensure Singapore remains globally competitive," it said. "This will also create more opportunities for local tech talent to work in globally competitive teams alongside top tech talent from all over the world."

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