EIG Dispatch | November 13, 2015


  • Singapore Updates Work Pass Exemptions
  • Taiwanese Tech Giant, Morris Chang, Urges Relaxed Regulations for Chinese Nationals
  • U.S. Senate Bill H-1B and L-1B Reform Act Proposes Stricter Compliance Requirements for Employers
  • Australia Announces New Immigration Health Requirements

Singapore Updates Work Pass Exemptions

In Singapore, employees can work for up to 60 days, and no more than 90 days cumulative within a year, without a Work Pass, but only for certain work activities and only when the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is notified of the work activity.  The Work Pass exemption is intended for activities requiring skills not generally found in Singapore or for services provided by a manufacturer’s authorized personnel.  The MOM has recently made two changes to the requirements of Work Pass Exemptions:

  1. Software Installation activities are no longer eligible for short term Work Pass exemptions.
  2. The “Seminars and Conferences” section now states that work “must not have sale or promotion of goods or services as its main purpose.”  However, the sale of goods is allowed in the “Exhibitions” section.

What this means for employees traveling to Singapore for work:

  1. Engineers traveling to Singapore to install software must obtain a Work Pass, regardless of the duration of the job.
  2. If traveling for sales or promotional business activities for jobs lasting up to 60 days,   employees should submit a Work Pass exemption under the “Exhibitions” category, instead of the “Seminars and Conferences” category.

Taiwanese Tech Giant, Morris Chang, Urges Relaxed Regulations for Chinese Nationals

An impending historic meeting between the leaders of Taiwan and China could result in reduced tensions and improved relations. A date has yet to be announced, but spokespersons from both nations have deemed the future meeting a milestone. As a step in this direction, Mr. Morris Chang, Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor company, urged the Taiwanese Government to relax regulations that have hindered the hiring of Chinese nationals within the high-tech sector in Taiwan.  Currently, firms must seek approval from government authorities in Taiwan before hiring Chinese nationals. Mr. Chang has urged the Taiwanese government to eliminate this process so that Chinese talent can flourish in Taiwan’s tech industry.

U.S. Senate Bill H-1B and L-1B Reform Act Proposes Stricter Compliance Requirements for Employers

On November 10, 2015, the H-1B and L-1B Reform Act was introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Dick Durbin of Illinois. The bill proposes substantial changes, aimed to increase regulation and duties upon American employers hiring foreign nationals, such as higher wage criteria and limited validity for H-1B visas.  If approved, the bill will restrict U.S employers from hiring H-1B employees if the company currently employs a work force of 50 or more employees and more than 50 percent of the employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders. In addition, the bill has redefined “Specialized Knowledge” for L-1 visa applicants to include more restrictive language. The bill also significantly augments the authority of the Department of Labor, allowing for greater investigation and audits of U.S employers to ensure compliance with immigration regulations.  EIG will continue to monitor any recent bills that may affect nonimmigrant work visas.

Australia Announces New Immigration Health Requirements

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Australia has announced reforms to its immigration health requirements. The new reforms, to be implemented on November 20, 2015, have eliminated the previous classification of low, medium, and high risk countries and instead have divided countries into two categories: health examination exempt countries and health examination required countries. Applicants from the health examination required category, will be required to undergo a medical examination if the applicants desire to remain in Australia for six months or longer. In addition, applicants whose work involves interaction with child care centers, assisting medical professionals or working as a medical professional, or where the applicant is pregnant or aged 75 and above, will be required to undergo a medical examination, regardless of nationality.

Prior to the announced reforms, 457 visa applicants from high risk countries were not strictly required to undergo medical examinations and chest X-rays. Under the new reforms, 457 visa applicants are no longer given special treatment and must undergo both a medical examination and chest x-ray if the visa applicant is from a country on the health examination required list.