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Employment Pass & S Pass Application

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$3,600.00 (commensurate with their experience and job role) are eligible for an Employment Pass to work in Singapore. 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$2,200.00, 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. For example, services companies must have at least 5 locals to 1 S Pass, or 11 locals to 2 S Pass holders (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

  • Employment Pass (EP) holder is permitted to act as a local Director of a Singapore Company provided that he/she is holding an EP under the same Singapore Company.
  • Employment Pass (EP) holder is permitted to be Partner of an LLP or LP and to act as the local resident Manager of the same LLP or LP that sponsors his EP.

    Note: An EP holder is not allowed to act as a Local Director for another company that is not his/her sponsoring company/employer.

  • EP Applicants with a minimum salary of S$5,000 will be able to apply the following passes for their family members:
    • Dependant Pass
      • Legally married spouse;
      • Unmarried children under 21 (incl. legally adopted children)
    • Long-Term Visa Pass
      • Common-law spouse;
      • Unmarried handicapped children above 21; and
      • Unmarried stepchild under 21
      • Parents (only applicable to those earning a minimum salary of S$ 10,000)

Highlights of S Pass

S Pass applicants with a minimum salary of S$ 5,000 will be able to bring in Singapore their spouse and children.

Employment Pass and S Pass Eligibility, Criteria, and Processing Time

Pass Type Eligibility Requirements Validity Period Processing Time MOM
Fee
Employment Pass (EP)
  • Fixed monthly salary of S$ 3,600 minimum
  • Tertiary degree from accredited university
  • Typically 5 years' relevant experience
1-3 years (at the discretion of authorities) and renewable
Online Submission:
within 3 weeks (for most cases)

Application:
S$ 70

Issuance/
Renewal:
S$ 150

Multiple Journey Visa (if required):
S$30
* Older applicants without tertiary qualifications need to have higher fixed monthly salaries commensurating with relevant work experience and skills.
S Pass (SP)
  • Fixed monthly salary of S$ 2,200 (w.e.f. 1st of July 2013)
  • Possess a degree/diploma. Preferred technical certificates of at least 1 year of full-time study may be considered
  • Preferably with 1-2 years working experience
1-2 years (at the discretion of authorities) and renewable
Online Submission:
within 3 weeks (for most cases)

Application:
S$ 60

Issuance/
Renewal:
S$ 80

Multiple Journey Visa (if required):
S$30
* The number of S Pass holders a company can employ is capped at a sub-quota, or Dependency Ceiling (DC), of 10% – 15% of the company's total workforce in the Services sector and 10% – 20% in the other sectors.
Work Permit (WP) Approved country/territory 1-2 years (subject to worker’s passport validity, Banker’s/Insurance Guarantee and worker’s employment period) and renewable
Online Submission:
within 3 days

Application:
S$ 30

Issuance:
S$ 30
* Services sector employers can employ Work Permit holders up to 40% of the company's/firm's total workforce. PRC Work Permit holders can make up to 8% within the 40% Dependency Ceiling.(w.e.f. 1st of July 2013)

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.

Documents Required

  • Employment Pass applications must be sponsored by an established Singapore Company (which is also usually the employing company). The form must be endorsed with the company’s stamp/seal and signed by both the applicant and an authorized representative from the sponsoring company.

    For S Pass applications, the Declaration Forms must also be endorsed with the company’s stamp/seal and signed by both the applicant and an authorized representative from the sponsoring company, together with the employer (if different from the sponsor).
  • A copy of the Travel Document (Passport) page showing the applicant’s personal particulars
  • A copy of all the applicant’s educational documents and past employment testimonials (Translated into English if they are in other languages)
  • A copy of the applicant’s personal resume/CV with details of his employment history, last drawn salaries and job duties.
  • Business Profile / Instant Information from ACRA/ registration papers from their respective professional bodies for sponsoring company of applicant.
  • Proof of residential address (if the applicant currently stays in Singapore)
  • If the applicant is a regional representative, the following documents must also be submitted:
    • A copy of letter from the International Enterprise Singapore giving approval for the setting up of the Representative Office; and
    • A letter from the Representative's Office Headquarters stating the purpose of the application, the duration of the applicant's assignment and an undertaking for the maintenance and repatriation of the applicant.
  • Any other additional documents, if required by MOM on a case-to-case basis.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore EP Application Updates via PB Corporate Services
Starting 1st of January 2017, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be raising the qualifying salary for Employment Pass (EP) applications from S$3,300 to S$3,600. For more details, please visit MOM's newsroom regarding the Update to Employment Pass Salary Criteria.
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