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Visas & Work Permits in Singapore

Singapore: Employment Passes and Exemptions

Securing a work permit for Singapore is one of the many bureaucratic hurdles to working in Singapore. There are many different types of Employment Passes, and it’s not always easy to figure out which one is right for you. Read our guide and learn more about the matter.

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S Pass

Those expats who fall under the category of mid-level skilled employee, such as technicians, may apply for an S Pass. The government assesses applicants based on a points system. You can collect points depending on how closely you meet the following criteria:

  • a monthly salary of at least 2,200 SGD
  • educational qualifications (such as a diploma, technical certificates, etc.)

Moreover, the type of job you are planning to carry out and your work experience play an important role as well. The S Pass Self-Assessment Tool can help you or your employer to find out if you are eligible. Keep in mind that the number of S Pass holders a company can hire is capped at 15% of the total staff for the service sector and 20% of the total staff in other industries.

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Expats who wish to start their own business and be their own boss in Singapore may apply for an EntrePass. But before you can apply, you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Your business must be registered as a Private Limited Company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  • You must hold no less than 30% of shares of the business.
  • Your business must at least have 50,000 SGD paid-up capital.
  • At the point of application, the company must not have been registered for more than six months.

Of course your business must be legal in Singapore in order to be approved. Some businesses and professions will not allow you to apply for an EntrePass. These include:

  • coffee shops and food courts
  • bars, karaoke lounges, and night clubs
  • massage parlors
  • acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine
  • employment agencies

Other Types of Passes and Permits

There are a number of other types of permits which allow the holder to spend a prolonged period of time in Singapore. These include, for example, the Miscellaneous Work Pass, the Training Work Permit, Work Permits for Performing Artists, and a number of others.

However, seeing how they are probably not relevant for a majority of expats, we will not cover those passes and permits in detail. If you do require further info, however, the website of the Ministry of Manpower is a great starting point.

The Application Process

Your future employer or a sponsor is usually responsible for submitting your Employment Pass application. They can use the EP Online platform to upload relevant documents and make all the work pass transactions. For that purpose, it is important that you provide them with clear and correct copies of your documents. Remember that you might need an official English translation of some of your foreign documents. During the online application procedure, most applications are processed within seven working days.

Your employer can also submit your application manually. Simply complete the Employment Pass Application Form and indicate your occupation. Here it is important that you refer to the list of standard occupations on the website of the Ministry of Manpower. You can submit the application and all documents at any SingPost post office. This time it might take a little longer, five weeks on average, for your application to be processed. If the application has been approved, your employer will be notified.

If your employer is not situated in Singapore, a sponsor needs to submit your application per mail. In this case, an online application is not possible. If you are unsure which Employment Pass applies to you, you can use the Pass Navigator.

Work Pass Exemptions

Under certain circumstances, foreign nationals are allowed to work in Singapore without having to secure a work permit beforehand. A Short Term Visit Pass is fully sufficient in that case. However, this is only possible for a limited amount of time, which is 60 days. Beyond that, you will need to get a work pass. Please remember that even though your profession may be part of the waiver program, you still have to abide by certain rules and notify the Ministry of Manpower.

The professions and cases in which these exemptions apply are the following:

  • performances as a dancer, singer, or musician
  • journalism
  • sports competitions, events, or training
  • location filming and fashion shows
  • seminars, conferences, or workshops
  • provision of expertise or specialized skills
  • exhibitions and trade fairs
  • arbitration or mediation services
  • junket activities
  • tour facilitation

Informing the MoM on Changes

Should the details of the work contract you used for the application for your permit ever change, chances are that you will have to report said change to the Ministry of Manpower, no matter how small the detail. On their website, the ministry offers a detailed list of which changes have to be reported back to them.

Updated on: December 06, 2018
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