All You Need to Know About Singapore Work Visas
Immigrating to a new country can be a daunting task for many and understanding the various visa options available becomes crucial to make this move.
Over the years, Singapore’s liberal immigration policies have witnessed a surge in foreign talent entering the country, a key source of innovation and economic growth. Today, over one million expatriates are living and working on the island city which they have grown to call home.
This article provides a brief overview of the different types of work passes available to those seeking to do business or work in Singapore:
|No.||Table of Contents|
|2.||Personalised Employment Pass|
|5.||Work Permit for Foreign Workers|
The EntrePass, also known as the Entrepreneur Pass, is a work permit for foreign entrepreneurs, investors or skilled innovators looking to set up and operate a business in Singapore.
What are the key features of an EntrePass?
- Eligible candidates can apply directly for the visa with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
- Validity: An EntrePass is valid for up to one year. This should be renewed 3 months before expiration, provided relevant criteria are met. First renewals will be for a period of 1 year. Subsequent renewals will then be for 2 years, once approved.
- Registration: All foreign entrepreneurs must register their business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) within the past six months from the date of application or must do so upon receiving the EntrePass approval.
- Minimum salary: There is no minimum salary requirements for the foreigner to apply for an EntrePass.
- Passes for family members: EntrePass holders can bring over their family members provided they meet the minimum requirements for total annual business spending and number of local employments. To view full criteria click here.
Who can apply for an EntrePass?
EntrePass is open to all nationalities who are serial entrepreneurs, high-calibre innovators or experienced investors looking to start a business in Singapore.
- Are required to have funding from a government-recognized venture capitalist or business angel OR
- Is an incubate from a government-recognised incubator or accelerator OR
- Has business network and an entrepreneurial track record.
- Should hold an intellectual Property OR
- Should have a research collaboration with an Institute of Higher Learning or a research institute in Singapore OR
- Should have extraordinary achievements in key areas of expertise.
- Investors should have an excellent investment track record.
Types of Businesses not Eligible for an EntrePass:
- Food outlets: Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts.
- Entertainment: Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges.
- Relaxation outlets: Foot reflexology, massage parlours.
- Health establishments: Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses.
- Employment agencies.
- Geomancy business.
For more details, visit EntrePass.
A Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is directed towards highly skilled Employment Pass holders (i.e. foreigners working in Singapore and holding an Employment Pass) or overseas professionals that meet the eligibility criteria described below.
A PEP allows you to switch employment with ease, eliminating the need to apply for a re-entry visa between transitions. Foreigners looking to stay in Singapore for a continuous period of up to 6 months without a job to search for new employment can benefit from this scheme.
What are the key features of the PEP?
- Eligible candidates can apply directly with the MOM.
- Validity: A PEP is valid for up to 3 years. It is not renewable and can only be issued once.
- Minimum Salary: Current EP holders looking to convert to a PEP should have a minimum salary of at least $12,000 per month. For overseas foreign professionals, this should be at $18,000 a month.
- Passes for family members: A Dependant’s Pass can be issued for your spouse and children under 21 years of age. For common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years old, unmarried stepchildren under 21 years old and parents, a Long-Term Visit Pass may be issued.
- Restrictions: PEP holders are not allowed to start a business or engage in any form of entrepreneurial activities. Such activities would require you to hold an EntrePass. PEP holders cannot stay unemployed for more than 6 months at any time, as this would lead to a cancellation of your visa.
Who can apply for a PEP?
All eligible foreign professionals can apply for a Personalised Employment Pass. You are eligible if:
- For overseas foreign professionals- Your last drawn monthly salary (within 6 months before your application) overseas was at least $18,000.
- For Employment Pass holders- Your last drawn monthly salary is at least $12,000.
Foreign employees not eligible for a PEP:
- An Employment Pass holder under the sponsorship scheme.
- A freelancer or foreigner who intends to work on a freelance basis.
- A sole proprietor, partner or where a director is also a shareholder in an ACRA-registered company.
- A journalist, editor, sub-editor or producer.
For more details, visit Personalised Employment Pass.
For businesses looking to recruit foreign professional employees, applying for an Employment Pass (EP) is the standard route to go. This work visa scheme is designed for high-level working professionals in a managerial, executive, or specialised field. Over the years, the Ministry of Manpower have introduced more stringent requirements to qualify for an EP.
What are the key features of an EP?
- Candidates can not apply for the EP directly with the MOM. An employer or appointed employment agent needs to apply on behalf of the foreign professional whom they wish to hire.
- Validity: All first-time EPs are valid for up to 2 years. Further renewals can go for up to 3 years subject to the eligibility criteria
- Minimum Salary: As of 1 October 2020, the minimum qualifying salary has been raised from $3,900 to $4,500 for new applications. For financial sectors, this has been raised to $5,000 for new application beginning 1 December 2020. Older, more experienced candidates will require a higher salary qualification in tandem. This new salary criteria will apply to renewal applications from 1 May 2021.
- Medical Insurance: It is not mandatory for employers to provide medical insurance for EP holders.
- Passes for family members: Candidates holding an EP and earning at least $6,000 a month can bring their family members on a Dependant’s Pass or Long Term Visit Pass.
Who can apply for an EP?
Employers should keep in mind the following before applying an EP for their candidate:
- The candidate should hold a managerial, executive, or specialised job.
- He/She should receive a fixed monthly salary of $4,500 (for applications made after 1st October 2020). For financial sectors, this has been raised to $5,000 for new application beginning 1 December 2020. This will be increased in tandem for older, more experienced candidates.
- He/She should have an acceptable qualification from a recognized institution. This includes either a good university degree, professional qualifications, or specialised skills.
- Employers can make use of the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) available on the MOM website to check if their candidate qualifies for an EP.
- Employers are required to advertise the position on MyCareersFuture for a period of 28 days before submitting the Employment Pass application for the selected candidate. This is in line with government regulations to promote fair employment practices and improve labour market transparency.
- Overseas employers that do not have a registered office in Singapore are required to get a Singapore-registered company to act as a local sponsor to submit the EP application on your behalf.
For more details, visit Employment Pass.
Employers looking to hire mid-skilled technical foreign staff can do so using the S Pass. This work visa scheme is limited by quota per employer, which is set in relationship to his/her total workforce.
What are the key features of an S Pass?
- Candidates can not apply for an S Pass directly with the MOM. An employer or an authorised third party must apply for a candidate’s S Pass.
- Validity: An S Pass is valid for up to 2 years. Renewals can be made for up to 3 years, dependant on the validity of the candidate’s passport. Candidates whose passports expire less than 3 years will be granted an S Pass renewal up to 1 month before the expiry date of the passport.
- Minimum Salary: As of October 2020, the qualifying salary for an S Pass has been raised from $2,400 to $2,500. This will increase in tandem during renewals.
- Medical Insurance: It is mandatory for employers to provide medical insurance for S Pass holders.
- Quota Cap: The number of S Pass holders an employer can hire is set at either 10% of the company’s total workforce in the services sector, 20% in the manufacturing sector OR 18% in all other sectors
- Passes for family members: Pass holders who have a fixed monthly salary of $6,000 and above, may bring over their spouse and children on a Dependant’s Pass.
Who can apply for an S Pass?
Employers applying for an S Pass for their candidate must take note of the following:
- The candidate must receive a monthly salary that is in line with their work experience (minimum set at $2,500). More experienced applicants will require a higher salary to qualify.
- The candidate must have a diploma or degree and relevant work experience. Technical certifications with at least 1-year full time study will also be considered.
- Employers are required to advertise the position on MyCareersFuture for a period of 28 days before submitting the S Pass application for the selected candidate. This is to promote greater awareness of vacancies in mid-skilled jobs among local jobseekers, and also require employers to make greater efforts to consider local candidates.
Make use of the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) before making the application to gauge your chance that the candidate with get a pass
Sectors not eligible for an S Pass:
- Food stall owners can not employ foreign workers to work in hawker centres, coffee shops or food courts as these are small scale operations to be manned either by themselves or their family members.
For more details, visit S Pass.
Employers can hire foreign workers in the fields of construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or the services sector using this type of work visa. Work permits for foreign workers are limited to certain source countries depending on the kind of industry they are hired under. To learn more about sector specific rules and source country eligibility click here.
What are the key features of a Work Permit?
- Candidates cannot apply for a work permit directly with the MOM. An employer or appointed employment agent needs to apply for the permit on his/her behalf.
- Validity: A work permit can be valid for up to 2 years, depending on factors such as passport validity, security bonds if any, and employment period. This may be renewed for two years subject to fulfilling the work permit requirements.
- Minimum Salary: There is no set minimum salary required when applying for a work permit.
- Quotas and Levy: The number of work permits an employer can apply for is limited by a quota. They are also required to pay a monthly levy for each worker, calculated on the basis of a set criteria.
- Medical Insurance: Employers are required to provide medical insurance to workers under the work permit.
- Passes for family members: Employees under the Work Permit are not eligible to bring over their family members on a Dependant’s Pass or LTVP.
Who can apply for a Work Permit?
The conditions guiding the application and approval of a Work Permit for foreign workers varies for each industry. For further details on the specific Work Permit requirements for each sector click on the links below:
For more details, visit Work Permits for Foreign Workers.
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All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only. The information presented in this document is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice. Professional advisory should be sought before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.