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Employment Passes and Work Permits for Singapore PDF Print E-mail

Update (as of February 2012): Although Singapore does still extend an open-armed approach with its liberal immigration policy they have recently changed the criteria for several of the available visas, other visas have been modified or replaced.

Remember: Singapore welcomes foreign talent. If you are reading this page so earnestly, you are probably foreign. But are you "talent"? (No sniggering.) Well, for official purposes, talent is defined in economic terms and very broadly to be those with professional (read "paper") qualifications or high incomes.

The authorities have divided foreign workers who are not Singapore Permanent Residents into three classes--those whose basic monthly salary is S$2,500 or less, those whose basic salary is more than S$2,000 but less than $3,000, and finally those who make more than $3,000. The Work Permit is for those with the lower basic salary, S Pass are for those with mid-level qualifications, and the Employment Pass is for those with the higher qualifications and is generally geared towards entrepreneurs, executives, managers, and individuals with professional training. As in life, it is better to make more than $3,000.

The government assumes that the Employment Pass holder is a more highly educated or experienced, and of a higher-calibre. As a result, there are advantages to having such a Pass. It is easier to obtain Dependant's Passes, and for those who successfully obtain 'P1' or 'P2' level Employment Pass they are also eligible to support Long-term Visit Pass. Other clearances that may be required, say for a change of job, are also easier to obtain.

If you are just coming to Singapore for a specific short-term assignment (e.g. lectconsultants or performers), you will need to get a Miscellaneous Work Pass which recently replaced the Professional Visit Visa. 

Employment Passes (Basic salary above S$3,000)

There are two classifications of employment pass - P and Q. The first of these, the P pass is for foreigners holding acceptable tertiary/professional qualifications or extensive experience seeking professional, administrative, executive or managerial jobs or who are entrepreneurs or investors. A P1 pass is for those with incomes of above $8000 and a P2 pass is for those with incomes of between $4500 and $8000.

If your income is above $3000 and you have basic educational qualifications (at least 5 GCE 'O' levels OR a full NTC-2 certificate), you can qualify for a Q1 pass. Finally, if you do not meet either the basic montly income OR educational requirements just noted, you may be granted a Q1 Employment pass in exceptional circumstances.

Another option is for a special type of Employment Pass called an EntrePass with founders of start ups in mind and has less emphasis put on education and more on past employment history or the merits of the business you are planning to start.  

For current P1 and P2 Employment Pass holders wanting the flexibility to change jobs without having to go through the process of reapplying over and over again Singapore also now offers the Personalised Employment Pass. Personalised Employment Pass holders receive all the same benefits that a P1 Employment Pass with the addition of job flexibility and 6 months grace period between jobs without losing your visa to remain in Singapore or having to obtain a new Employment Pass each time.

The fee for the Employment or Dependant Pass is $20 administration fee for processing of your application, $30 per year or part thereof. Also, you have to pay $120 per issue. If all of the above seems most complicated, relax...it is fairly straight forward and just a matter of waiting in line at MOM once-yearly(or every 2 years) after updating your information nothing more. EntrePass, Personalised Employment Pass, and Long-term Visit Pass all are more stringently reviewed and have steeper requirements and it is generally advised to enlist the services of a professional for the first application but once obtained they are fairly easy to renew.

S Pass (Basic salary above S$2,000)

If your basic monthly salary is below $3,000 but you have an acceptable university degree or diploma from a recognised educational institution in Singapore, you may also apply for the S Pass. This pass is generally geared towards recent university graduates, and lower-mid-level skilled labour.  While an Employment Pass holder may apply for Dependant's Passes for a spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old S Pass holders are not extended the same benefits. 

Work Permits (Basic salary S$2,000 and below)

f you intend to work in Singapore and are earning a basic monthly salary of $2,000 or less, you must apply for a Work Permit. Prospective employers must also furnish a $5,000 security deposit for all foreign workers except those from Malaysia. When the worker is repatriated, the security bond is returned to the employer; otherwise, it is forfeited.

You should know the outcome of your application in 7 working days. Do not begin working until you receive the Permit. You could be fined an amount equivalent to several months of your salary.
Depending on the type of occupation, your employer has to pay the Ministry of Manpower a levy that varies from $200 to $400.
Application forms are available free-of-charge at Counter 1, Level 2 of the Work Permit Department, Tel: (65) 6538-3033, Fax: (65) 6539-5344.
Before collecting the Permit, get a registered Singapore doctor to certify that you are medically fit.
The whole process can be quite laborious, so there are agents who are ready to step in and iron out the technicalities for a fee.

Conditions for Application

You will need a local sponsor in the form of a Singapore registered corporation (usually your employer) when applying for the Employment Pass. If your employer is unable to sponsor your Employment pass or if you are planning to start your own company in singapore you can make use of a corporate services company which can act as your Employment Pass sponsor or the local director for your own company.

Where and How to Apply

Most employers now use the EP Online application system however if you would like to manually submit your application via mail. You can get the appropriate application forms from here: Application documents and then mail them addressed to: 

Ministry of Manpower
18 Havelock Road 
Singapore 059764 
Tel: 6438 5122 

Applications must be made at the above address and normally take about 4 to 6 weeks to process manually submitted applications while electronically submitted generally only take 1 to 2 weeks.. Be sure to have certified copies of all your documents, otherwise you could end up playing document tennis. You will need to produce the originals later. The documents required are:

  1. FOUR copies of completed Form 8 per applicant. The forms must be signed by both you and an authorised officer from your sponsor company, and should also be endorsed with the company's stamp or seal.
  2. ONE copy each of all your qualification papers and past employment testimonials.
  3. TWO passport-sized photographs of you taken within the last 3 months.
  4. For those setting up professional practices here, ONE copy of the sponsorship letter from a well-established local corporation stating its responsibility for the maintenance and repatriation of each applicant is needed. Otherwise a security deposit of S$3,000 per applicant will be required.
  5. For those who are regional representatives, ONE copy of the letter from the Trade Development Board approving the setting up of the Representative Office and a letter from the Representative Office's headquarters stating the purpose of the application, the duration of the applicant's assignment, the duties and responsibilities of the applicant in the Office, and the maintenance and repatriation of the applicant.

Those who are married must submit ONE copy each of the official marriage certificate and the spouse's educational certificates if the spouse is a Singapore citizen, permanent resident or an employment pass holder.

Dependant's Passes

If you want to apply for Dependant's Passes for your spouse and unmarried children below 21 years, complete and submit Form 12 together with your employment pass application. The documents required are:

  1. TWO copies of completed and signed Form 12 (one may be a photocopy). Children travelling on their own passports must submit a separate Form 12, while parents may sign on behalf of children below 12 years.
  2. ONE copy of the official marriage certificate.
  3. ONE copy each of the official birth certificates of children showing both the parents' names and the child's name OR Court papers on the custody of the children.
  4. TWO passport-sized photographs of the applicant taken within the last 3 months. No photograph is required for children below 12 years.

P1, P2, Q1 Employment Pass holders, and S Pass holders with a fixed monthly salary of at least $2,800 may apply for Dependantís Passes for their:

  • Spouses
  • unmarried or legally adopted children under 21 years of age

Long-term visit pass

If you want to apply for Dependant's Passes for your spouse and unmarried children below 21 years, complete and submit Form 14 together with your employment pass application. The documents required are:

  1. TWO copies of completed and signed Form 14 (one may be a photocopy). Children travelling on their own passports must submit a separate Form 14, while parents may sign on behalf of children below 12 years.
  2. ONE copy of the official marriage certificate.
  3. ONE copy each of the official birth certificates of children showing both the parents' names and the child's name OR Court papers on the custody of the children.
  4. TWO passport-sized photographs of the applicant taken within the last 3 months. No photograph is required for children below 12 years.

P1, P2 Employment Pass holders may apply for Long Term Visit Passes for their:

  • Common-law Spouse
  • Unmarried daughters above 21 years of age
  • Handicapped children above 21 years of age
  • Stepchildren under 21 years of age 
  • Parents and parents-in-law

If Your Application is Rejected

If your application is rejected, try to find out why. There may be several reasons. The most common is that...
Sometimes, there is a lapse between official announcement of a policy and the execution of that policy. For example, foreigners with creative expertise in the media who were wooed by one government body had their applications rejected by Immigration. It was later found that a number of them did not have the necessary paper qualifications; since then, an exception has been created for them.

Note: Agents who apply for the Pass or Permit on your behalf can not guarantee results. Because such applications cost money, speak with them first, be as sure as you can that you are likely to succeed in your application before sending it in.

Stopping Work

When you stop work, your Employment Pass is deemed to be cancelled. You have 7 days to surrender your pass for cancellation. It is an offence not to surrender your pass as you will be deemed to have remained unlawfully, unless you are entitled to remain in Singapore under the Immigration Act.
If you change your job, you need to apply for a new Employment Pass.

Renewal

To renew your Employment Pass, submit TWO application forms (the form is the same as that for a new application). You should submit a renewal application about 2 months before your existing Employment Pass expires.

Assistance

If you are concerned you do not qualify or need assistance in applying for your visa you could consider using a reputable service to apply for your work visa.

 
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