In June, the Donald Trump administration clamped down clamped down SHRM Trump Suspends New H-1B Visas Through 2020 Read more on the American H1-B visa, leaving many skilled workers reeling.

The green card backlog for employment-based applicants in the US, meanwhile, hit a whopping 1.2 million—68% of whom are Indian. In fact, of the 800,000+ Indian nationals waiting in line, as per US Citizenship and Immigration Services data, some 200,000 would probably die probably die The Economic Times Over 8,00,000 Indian nationals in green card backlog in US Read more before they receive the coveted card.

That’s the acutely conservative global backdrop in which Singapore has chosen to open up a new long-term (two-year) visa called ‘Tech.Pass’ announced earlier this month. Singapore’s move comes after several tourism-friendly countries like Barbados and Costa Rica began offering longer visas in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

It also comes months after the Singapore Manpower Ministry’s (MOM) move to put 47 employers (on top of 1,200 employers already being scrutinised) on a watch list as their workforce mix had too many foreigners. “We will subject their hiring to closer scrutiny to ensure that there is no nationality bias against locals, which is unacceptable and not in line with fair, merit-based hiring,” the ministry had said had said The Straits Times 47 employers placed on watch list for possible discriminatory hiring practices; most from financial and professional services sectors Read more in August.

Unsurprisingly then, Singapore’s new Tech.Pass visa—limited to 500 people in the first batch starting January 2021—comes with strict requirements. To qualify, you must check the box on two out of these three criteria:

  • monthly salary of at least S$20,000 (US$14,800) in the past year
  • five years of cumulative experience in a leading role in a tech firm with a valuation or market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or at least US$30 million funding
  • five years of cumulative experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100 million in revenue

That description only fits high-ranking candidates from the world’s top tech firms. “There’s hardly a CEO here who would pay themselves that kind of a salary,” is a common response, especially from entrepreneurs in places like India and Indonesia.

It’s a narrow funnel. “There are, what, 10-15 unicorns a year in India? Even if you account for a wider bracket of high-networth companies, only few hundred from a population of 1.3 billion can apply, if the [Tech.Pass] criteria you read out is final,” notes Gagan Sabharwal, Senior Director, Global Trade Development at Indian trade association Nasscom.

AUTHOR

Nadine Freischlad

Nadine is based in Indonesia. She covers Southeast Asia's super apps, the changing nature of work and employment, and other structural shifts happening as a result of digital disruption.

View Full Profile

Read this story. Subscribe Now

This story is available across both editions. Subscribe to the one that’s most relevant for you. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.