Singapore is not just a world-class destination; it is also one of the most lucrative places in the world to live, set up a business, and advance in the career. Many people from Apac countries as well as from far off destinations, aspire to work in Singapore. Also many world-class companies are planning their expansion in Singapore and at times they have lot of questions about Employment Pass and how they can bring in key staff in Singapore. This article has been developed as a comprehensive guide to explain to you everything about Singapore employment pass.

For your convenience, we have divided this guide into multiple logical sections.

What is a Singapore Employment Pass?

Singapore Employment Pass is a Singapore work visa issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower to the foreign employees, professionals, managers, and owners or directors of Singaporean companies. This is a work visa that allows you to live and work in Singapore, as well as travel in and out of the country without having to apply for entry visas. In a sense, Singapore Employment pass is similar to US H1B, Australia’s visa 457 or the UK tier 2 visa, which is used for skilled employees.

As of 2019, there are 184,000 people in Singapore on Employment pass. This is one of the most important skilled Visa in Singapore to bring in the talent in various disciplines that may not be available from the resident population.

As you can see, Singapore is a small nation with close to 4 million resident population. But at the same time, it is a large economy, with trade throughout Asia. So filling the shortage of people in-demand professions become quite important.

The majority of these employment pass holders work in multinationals, medium-sized enterprises and SMEs in Managerial and specialist occupations.

Who can apply for Employment Pass (EP), What are the privileges?

Employment Pass (EP) is the most commonly granted work visa by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to foreign professionals.

However, the application for the employment pass must be made by a Singapore Registered Company for a specific employee they want to bring into Singapore. For this the company must have interviewed the candidate, has given a job offer and the job offer is accepted by the candidate. Once these basic prerequisites are completed, then the company can proceed to lodge the application for employment pass with the Ministry of Manpower.

So the key thing to note here is having a confirmed job offer is important. If an individual thinks that he will apply for employment pass on his own, then that’s not going to happen. If such a person is high earner, then he can consider applying for a personalized Employment Pass.

Some other Key points to note here are :

  • It is granted to the foreign managers, directors, business owners, executives, or other professionals who are doing or are offered a job in Singapore.
  • Employment Pass has a validity of one to two years and can be renewed up to three years.
  • Employment Pass offers a multiple journey entry visa, which enables you to travel outside the country without any requirement of applying for an entry visa to Singapore every time you leave Singapore.
  • With Employment Pass, it becomes easier to apply for Singapore Permanent Residence (SPR).
  • For Employment Pass, there is no levy or quota required. However, in case the number of Employment Pass holders in a company gets more than 50%, then the company needs to justify to the authorities as to why locals were not offered the job.

Who is eligible for the Employment Pass?

According to the criteria given by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, to be eligible to get an employment pass you must:

  • Be newly hired or employed by a well-settled business which is registered in Singapore, and this company intends to bring you in Singapore for the job.
  • Have a minimum salary of S$3,600 per month. Individuals with more work experience are required to earn a higher salary.
  • Be educated with a valid higher education degree(s) or possess an excellent work background and salary. For the individuals who do not have a bachelor’s degree, you have to justify that you possess enough work-related experience that can compensate for the lack of education.

You should also be aware that meeting these requirements does not guarantee that you will receive the Employment Pass (EP), the MOM will consider the entire application when reviewing a candidate’s record.

What if you don’t meet this criteria for Employment pass (EP)

  • If you do not have a sponsor company but you are a high-income earner, then a Personalized Employment pass would be the most suitable option for you. However, you will have to fulfill other stringent requirements.
  • The Entrepreneur Visa, also known as EntrePass, is more suitable for you in case you are an entrepreneur and are seeking to invest and set up a new startup business in Singapore.
  • You can incorporate your company in Singapore and then apply for employment pass under this newly incorporated company, provided you have a reasonable work background in the skills in demand list in Singapore. This is an easier option than going for entrePass.
  • In case your sponsor company is overseas-based, which means that it doesn’t not have a Singapore Registered Company (And does not intend to register one) but has a related / client’s company in Singapore, you will be required to apply for Employment Pass under the overseas sponsorship case. Your overseas sponsor company will have to explain the relationship with the Singapore client and also why there is a need for the employment of a foreign consultant in the Singapore Company. This means that a Singapore registered sponsor or agent will have to apply on your behalf for the employment pass. (Kind of payroll agent arrangement).

The documents required for the Employment Pass application

Your employment agent or company sponsor will be required to submit several documents along with the application for the Singapore Employment Pass. These include:

  • Employment Pass application form 8, duly completed via Employment Pass Online portal (EPOL)
  • Scanned copies of your education documents including all certificates and transcripts
  • CV or resume along with the previous employers’ references
  • Your Passport’s personal particulars page
  • Your sponsor/employer Company’s profile and a detailed explanation of the responsibilities of the job
  • There may be a requirement of other documents that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) may request from you during the application process after the submission of initial documents. Such requirements may include things like proof of invoices or even financial documents as supporting documents or a detailed description of employing company business activities.
  • All the documents must be in English. If the document is not in English, then it must be translated by an official translator.

In case you and your employing company are not able to handle the requirement of additional documents, you can ask your reliable licensed immigration consultant to handle it and liaise with MOM on your behalf.

 

There are certain country-specific requirements of MOM as well. These are mentioned below.

Additional documents for candidates from India

Employment Pass (EP) applicants from India are required to submit a full set of transcripts or marksheets, indicating the college the candidate attended, in support of their employment pass application.

Additional documents for candidates from China

Employment Pass (EP) applicants who are from China are required to submit proof of a diploma in English from one of the following sources:

  • Higher Education Student Information and Career Center of China.
  • Graduate Education Information and China Academic Degrees.
  • Verification from Dataflow Group. Dataflow group is a third-party service that carries out background checks and verifies credentials of the Employment Pass (EP) candidates.

The procedure for submission of Employment Pass Application

It must be remembered that to get a Singapore Employment pass for you, only your employment agency or employer can apply on your behalf. And they have the following two options for this:

Online Application Via the EPOL System (Mostly used now)

For application through online system following is the stepwise procedure that is required to be adopted:

  • You must permit your sponsor to apply on your behalf in the form of written consent.
  • The sponsor carries out the following actions:
    • Completes and lodges the application through Employment Pass (EP) Online
    • Gathers and uploads the supporting documents that are required with the application, and
    • Pays the application fee to MOM
  • After one – three weeks, an update about the status of the Employment Pass application can be checked. Updates on your employment pass application can be checked from Employment Pass (EP) online.
  • After the approval of your application, print the in-principle approval (IPA) letter on Employment Pass (EP) Online.
  • The entire process of application is done on Employment Pass (EP) online. If it is the first time that your company is applying for an Employment Pass, it will have to register with Employment Pass (EP) online first to get an EPOL account with MOM. This may take up to three to seven days.

One of the best way is to hire a professional Employment Agency like ours to do this work for you.

Manual Submission of Employment Pass Application (Used in past, now rarely used)

In case you or your agent decides to submit the application manually over the counter at any Singapore branch following procedure is required to be followed:

  • You have to give permission to your sponsor to apply on your behalf in the form of written consent.
  • The sponsor carries out the following actions:
    • Completes the filling of Employment Pass Forms (for sponsorship cases)
    • Collects the copies of supporting documents that are required with the application and indicated on the form.
    • Submits at a SingPost Branch’s (Singapore Post Office) counter your application form along with the supporting documents
    • Deposit the fee using cash, MasterCard, visa, CashCard, or eNets Debit.

The processing time for paper applications often lasts for several weeks. So generally this procedure is not much used now a days.

Requirement to advertise the job openings at the Jobs Bank

As per the law passed in August 2014, known as fair consideration framework., every company that intends to hire an Employment Pass holder for a job opening is required to first advertise the relevant position in Singapore workforce development agency’s jobs bank for two weeks at the least. Only when there is no suitable local person applying for the job, can a company hire a foreigner for the job. This is a necessity to remain in compliance with the Singaporean fair employment practices. However, certain positions are an exception to this

Following positions are exempted from the requirement of prior advertisement at the Jobs Bank:

  • Job openings that has a monthly salary of more than S$12000 per month.
  • Jobs in firms where the number of employees is fewer than 25.
  • Short-term positions (less than one month).
  • Individuals who are intra company transferees which include candidates holding senior positions and professionals with advanced levels of expertise.

Factors impacting the outcome of the Employment Pass application

The MOM’s criteria to issue employment pass focusses on many factors, particularly those which are related to the quality of Employment Pass (EP) applicant and his/her’s background and the hiring company’s credentials. Some key factors determining the outcome of an application for employment pass are mentioned below:

  • Age, salary, and education of the Candidate, along with his professional background
  • Job responsibilities and Position of the applicant
  • Company Credentials, including its ranking and paid-up capital,
  • The Company’s operating sector and its economic viability
  • Ratio of foreign Employees vis a vis the locals in the company

Company sector

The application for the employment pass is more likely to be accepted if the hiring company is operating in the priority sectors. These are the sectors that contribute significantly to the growth of Singapore Economy. The Singapore government has recently introduced a program known as [email protected] program. It is aimed at providing lenient and expedited employment pass issuance procedures. If this program turns out to be successful, there is a substantial chance of implementation of more lenient and favorable employment pass regulations for foreigners who are opting for business and employment in Singapore.

Salary

Salary is one of the decisive factors in the issuance of an employment pass. MOM requires that the salary of the applicant should be commensurate with his skills and should be competitive to meet the requirement of manpower in the country. If there is more than one applicant who meets the criteria of qualification and experience. Then the applicant with a higher salary is more likely to get the employment pass. This is an arrangement by the government to ensure that the applicant’s salary does not compete with the local talent.

Qualifications and experiences

  • The applicant’s qualifications, skills, and experience should be commensurate with the scope of the job he/she is pursuing.
  • Other than resume, MOM closely scrutinize the job description of the applicant to assess the applicant’s understanding of the responsibilities he will take on and how he will create the financial advantages. If the position requires special skills or qualification which are not commonly available or are scarce amongst locals, the application will be prioritized.
  • Applicants who provide the testimonials from previous employers are more likely to get their employment pass application approved. Because it validates that applicant’s skills are excellent and unique.

Paid-up Capital

Employment Pass (EP) applicants who own a company are required to provide proof that their company has a minimum of S$50,000 as paid-up capital. However, as a rule of thumb, the greater the amount of paid-up capital higher are the chances of applicant’s employment pass approval. Generally, the application from a company with low paid-up capital will need more information to be provided in support of the Employment pass application.