Singapore Tightens Work Visa Rules for Indian IT Professionals

Indian Visa Ban in Singapore

New Delhi: Following in US's footsteps, Singapore has sought to cut down on work visas issued to Indian IT professionals. Singapore is also advising hiring of local talent to Indian companies having offices there. Commenting on the issue Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said, “All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people."

Following Singapore’s move, the Indian government has decided to put on hold the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) citing violation of the trade pact. According to reports, Singapore authorities are resorting to ’Economic Needs Test’ (ENT). This particular test required compliance with certain economic criteria" to deny access to Indian talent. This is a direct flouting of the CECA, which states that "there will be no ENT or quotas on agreed services”. With the CECA on hold, the trade ties between the two countries can come to screeching halt and adversely affect mutual trade relations.

Chandrashekhar also said, “No new visas mean that existing ones will not be renewed and that will make it difficult to maintain existing levels of workforce,” adding that Singapore will find it difficult to meet the local hire policy as there is a very small workforce with the required skill level.

The work visas for Indian IT professionals have drastically come down and the trend has been in force since early 2016. In fact, no new visas were being issued since January 2016 by the island city-state to Indian IT professionals. Some of the top IT companies having offices in Singapore and are affected by the decision are HCL, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and L&T Infotech. It has led them to hunt for other countries in the region to move their operations.

In the wake of present situation, both EU and Japan have welcomed Indian skilled workers, especially IT professionals with open arms.

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