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Is the Singapore ONE Pass or Hong Kong Top Talent Pass Better?

Is the Singapore ONE Pass or Hong Kong Top Talent Pass Better?

Singapore’s ONE Pass vs Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass: A Comparison

The global talent race has been heating up.

In response to a global talent shortage and competition for leading talent, Singapore and Hong Kong have created their respective new elite working visas.

Both visas target high-earning, high-achieving, highly educated professionals and make it easier for them to stay in their chosen host country with more flexibility.

So, what does each visa do, how do they differ, and which one will come out on top?

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Singapore’s Overseas Networks Expertise Pass

Singapore announced the Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) Pass in August 2022. It is Singapore’s most flexible working visa yet, which says a lot given its relentless wooing of top-tier talent.

A ONE Pass holder does not have to worry about finding a job right away — they can take their time looking for their ideal role, and once they do, they can work for multiple companies simultaneously.

They can also start their own business while they are employed by another company.

Other Singapore work visas, such as the Employment Pass (EP) and Personalised Employment Pass (PEP), while being reasonably liberal, have more restrictions on entrepreneurship and employment in comparison to this personalised pass.

The ONE Pass is valid for 5 years, considerably longer than the 2 years of the EP and 3 years of the PEP.

Of course, to obtain these benefits, applicants must have exceptional talent. The ONE Pass targets high-income earners with a fixed monthly salary of S$30,000 (US$22,000) or S$360,000 (US$262,000) annually.

Overseas candidates must prove that they have been employed by an established company, or will be working for one. This corporation must have a market capitalisation of at least S$700 million (US$500 million) or yearly revenue of S$280 million (US$200 million).

It also aims to attract those with “outstanding achievements” in science and technology, research and academia, arts and culture, or sports. In fact, these applicants can qualify even if they do not meet the salary criteria.

Related Read: Why is Singapore a Prime Spot for Top-Tier Foreign Talent? »

Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass

Hong Kong is balancing precariously on the edge, risking its long-celebrated status as an international financial hub. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that its new Top Talent Pass is much needed.

It is an apparent effort to wrestle back some talent after a very unsteady and well-documented 5 years.

Chief Executive of Hong Kong, John Lee Ka-chiu, has stated that the state’s workforce has shrunk by about 140,000 people between 2020 and 2022, so a lot rides on this new visa.

To court the world’s best minds, the Top Talent Pass is aimed at high-earning professionals who are also graduates of the world’s top 100 universities.

As part of the broader effort to pull in much-needed fresh blood, the government will simplify processes for companies to recruit foreigners and set up a task force to develop fresh recruitment plans. In addition, newcomers will receive support once they arrive in Hong Kong.

The Top Talent Pass is valid for 2 years and is available to professionals who earned at least HK$2.5 million (US$320,000) in the last year.

Preferred professions are financial technology, artificial intelligence and data science, life and health technology, advanced manufacturing and new energy technology.

Singapore’s ONE Pass vs Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass: A Comparison

Here is a quick table comparison of the 2 passes:

Hong Kong Singapore
Visa Programme Top Talent Pass Scheme Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) Pass
  • Earn HK$2.5 million (US$320,000) in the past year
  • Earn a monthly equivalent of S$360,000 (US$262,000) a year
  • Foreign applicants must prove that they have been working for or will be working for a prominent corporation with a market capitalisation of at least S$700 million (US$500 million) or yearly revenue of S$280 million (US$200 million)
  • Those with outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, sports, and science can qualify even if they do not meet the salary requirement
Pass Validity 2 Years 5 Years
  • Graduates from the world’s top 100 universities will not need to comply with strict rules that require employers to find locals for jobs before finding talent from abroad, making for easier hires
  • Students graduating from Hong Kong universities can stay for up 2 years to find work, which takes the pressure off having to rush to find work
  • Pass holders can start, manage, and be employed by a few companies at the same time for exceptional flexibility
  • Pass holders can take their time to search for work
  • Long pass validity is assuring and suitable for those looking to stay and contribute long term
  • Pass holders do not need to reapply for a new pass upon job change
  • Spouses can work in Singapore with a Letter of Consent, so they need not give up having a job to come here
When Does it Start? The programme will be set up within the year and will be reviewed after the first year of implementation January 1, 2023

Singapore’s ONE Pass vs Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass: Which is Better?

Both visas have their appeal in different ways and suit a variety of needs. Singapore’s ONE Pass is more flexible for professionals who want to do multiple jobs or start their own businesses.

Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass caters to top talent from the world’s best universities and provides an easier path to residency in the country while giving newcomers support.

From a macro point of view, Singapore has the advantage of its central proximity to Southeast Asia. With China’s growth slowing and Southeast Asia’s economy set to boom, Singapore is in the ideal spot to take advantage of this.

Above all, though, surely any prospective talent would be thinking about political stability, access to a strong economy, and the ability to start building a life.

In that regard, Singapore outguns Hong Kong to a vast degree. Hong Kong has been too unstable these past few years, and it is unlikely that the Top Talent Pass will be enough to entice professionals, especially when Singapore is such a bright contrast.

The ONE Pass should prove to be a powerful recruitment tool for Singapore, and with Hong Kong’s recent political turmoil casting doubts over its future, it will be even more attractive to top professionals looking to work in Asia.

It offers unparalleled flexibility, long-term residency options, and minimal restrictions on entrepreneurship — making it a clear winner in this showdown.


  • We can assist you throughout the application process from 1 Jan, 2023, for better chances of securing the pass.
  • Some of Singapore’s most prominent work passes are the Employment Pass (EP), Tech.Pass, and ONE Pass.
  • It is part of Singapore’s effort to lure talent to contribute their skills and knowledge to the country.

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Getting the Singapore ONE Pass for your top employees? Secure yours today!

About the Author

Mel Bakar

Mel specializes in Employment Pass and Work Pass applications through the Ministry of Manpower. She also handles Long-Term Visit Pass applications through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

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