Employment Pass & S Pass Applications
Applying for Work Visas for Foreign Employees to work in Singapore
Local and Singapore-based foreign companies (i.e. branch offices and representative offices) who wish to employ skilled foreigners can do so by applying an Employment Pass, S Pass, or Work Permit for their foreign employees. (Foreigners who wish to come to Singapore without first securing a local employer/sponsor may also consider applying for a Personalised Employment Pass, if they are eligible). Factors such as the candidate’s salary, experience, nationality, and academic qualifications determine which work pass is most suitable, together with the company’s financial/growth position and manpower situation i.e. quota to hire foreigners.
Furthermore, hiring companies must be able to prove to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that the foreigner’s skills, qualifications and experience are unique/superior and critical for their businesses’ success. Companies must also show that they have made genuine efforts to recruit a Singaporean candidate first, before looking outside the local talent pool. This is in line with the Singapore Government’s enhancement of the work pass eligibility criteria for both candidates and local employers to improve employment opportunities and conditions for locals.
Overview of Employment Pass & S Pass Work Passes
For this article, we shall focus on the more common and most applicable types of work passes available for skilled and mid-skilled foreign employees – the Employment Pass (“EP”) & the S Pass.
New applicants for EP & S Pass work passes are assessed on multiple criteria, including those criteria mentioned above, such as but not limited to: the proposed fixed monthly salary (basic monthly salary plus any fixed allowances or bonus payments), the issuing university/academic body/country of the candidate’s educational qualifications, specialist skills, type of job, relevant work experience, existing relationship or employment with the company, the company’s background/history and its potential to create new jobs for locals.
As a simple guideline, skilled foreign employees holding acceptable academic qualifications (Bachelor Degree and above) and professional qualifications with managerial/executive/specialist experience and who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$4,500 (older and more experienced candidates need higher salaries) are eligible for an Employment Pass to work in Singapore. From 1 December 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for EP candidates in the financial services sector will be raised to $5,000 for new applications. For candidates of this calibre on EP, the MOM does not impose a foreign manpower quota or foreign worker levy.
Mid-skilled foreign employees who have a Degree or Diploma qualification, but with just a few years of relevant experience and a lower salary, and who do not come from an “approved source country” (to be eligible for a work permit)…or a skilled foreign employee holding a lesser academic qualification, may not be deemed eligible for an EP. Instead, these employees can work in Singapore on an S Pass. Candidates for an S Pass must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$2,500, commensurate with their experience and job role. A foreign worker levy is imposed on the company for S Pass holders, and the company must also meet the foreign manpower quota applicable for its industry sector. Varied across industry sectors, the quota is lowest for the Services Sector – 13% of a company’s workforce in 2020; 10% in 2021. For example, services companies must have at least 8 locals to 1 S Pass, or 16 locals to 2 S Pass holders for this year 2020 (assuming the company does not have any other dependency on foreign workers (work permits), in which case the quota may be higher).
Please note: EP & S Pass applicants are advised not to make any relocation plans until they have received an In-Principle Approval Letter from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Highlights of Employment Pass
Highlights of S Pass
S Pass applicants with a minimum salary of S$ 6,000 will be able to bring in Singapore their spouse and children.
For more details, you may download MOM’s latest changes to dependant privileges for work pass holders.
Employment Pass and S Pass Eligibility, Criteria, and Processing Time
S Pass and Work Permit Quota
For more information on the number of local workforce required, you may download MOM’s Guidelines on the Calculation of Quota and Levy Bill or use Quota Calculator for Work Permits and S Passes:
Foreign Worker Levy
The levy rate for foreign workers varies across different sectors and changes from time to time. Find out more about the levy rates for foreign workers in the services sector.
With effect from the 1st of September 2020, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has raised the minimum qualifying salary for new Employment Pass (EP) applications from S$3,900 to S$5,000. For financial services sector, the minimum qualifying salary is S$5,000 with effect from 1 December 2020. The same will be raised in tandem for older and more experienced candidates. For Renewal applications this criterion will apply from 1 May 2021.